+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.
Text: Luke 24:3
Theme: No Body
Dear Saints of our Risen Lord,
There was no body. But the evidence to solve this mystery was pending. The first word Saint Luke the Evangelist records at the scene of the empty tomb is why. It is spoken by angels. “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!”1 Why did the women expect to find Him there? Why did they think He was no longer with them? Probably for the same reason we often act like He is no longer with us. They were looking for the wrong thing, at the wrong place, at the wrong time. The eyes of their heart were clouded with doubt and uncertainty. Sin can veil the brightest of lights. But this light, the Light of the World would not be veiled. Could it be that the crucifixion was not a defeat, but a victory? Dare they believe that the impossible had taken place? Christianity lives only by the confession that the Crucified One rose and left our sins in the grave. Every other appeal to His personage or use of His name is merely a variation on man-made religion.
A man by the name of John Crabtree served for the US military in Vietnam and was wounded. He was receiving a military disability pension from the government until one day he received an official notification of his own death. This meant that his government benefit would end. He wrote a letter to explain that he was very much alive but that didn’t seem to make any difference. He tried contacting the appropriate government officials but without success. They seemed to have his official death notice and that seemed to carry more weight than clear evidence of his existence. Finally, he contacted a local television station and they ran a human interest story about his plight. During the interview the reporter asked how he felt about his ordeal. The veteran expressed his frustration and added, “Have you ever tried to prove you’re alive!”
Christ has risen! The arch enemy has been felled. “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”2 What is this victory? It is the final triumph over sin, disease, death and destruction. “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”3 The resurrection is the ultimate victory over uncertainty, hopelessness, fear and despair. Our unrighteousness put Him on the cross, but His sacrifice spares us from eternal death. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”4 Nothing can separate us from Him.
Jesus’ appearance to His followers was an unexpected reunion after His resurrection. Many thought evil and death had permanently separated them from their Lord. But there is no separation that God cannot overcome. The cross is the center of every reunion. It is the center of the reunion between God and the human race. It institutes the eventual reunion of all who believe. Easter is the celebration of the union that took place on Calvary. The resurrection means full enjoyment of life in the triune God. Peace has been made between God and man.
On Easter the allure of worldly things loses its luster. The value of life is reassessed according to eternity. Our purpose of existence is reoriented in line with a higher calling. It doesn’t matter if we’re busy raising our kids, nursing our health, mending our relationships, or just trying to make ends meet. All of these things have new meaning because of the humility of Christ’s sacrifice and the vibrancy of His resurrection. Charlemagne was one of the great rulers of the Roman Empire in the Middle Ages. Crowned in the year 800 A.D., He reigned for 46 years and was known as a wise and benevolent Christian monarch. When he died, he was buried seated on a throne in royal robes with an open Bible on his knee. His finger was pointing to those words of Jesus that live on when kings are dead and empires are dust, “What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and forfeit his own soul?”5
Dear saints, we are called to be ambassadors of the resurrection joy. We have a charge and an opportunity to spread life in a world of death; to spread hope in a world of despair, to spread Christ in the very midst of Satan’s kingdom. Christianity is not a spectator sport. To treat it as one is to not really to be a follower if the risen Lord Jesus at all. A humble and grateful heart is shown in an obedient life. Christ died to put your sins to death and rose to give you life. It is a life that begins the moment you believe. That is why the Bible refers to baptism as a new birth. The power of Easter becomes accessible to us in baptism. The baptismal life is a life lived in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ.
Dear friends, if after someone hears the message of how Jesus Christ sacrificed everything for us, he or she still needs a reason to make sacrifices on behalf of others, then the message hasn’t truly been taken to heart. Yes, direction and encouragement may be needed. We all need that. But good works flow freely from faith. If devotion to Christ must be coaxed and wrung out of us at every turn, then we have again been enslaved to the law. If we must be told, “do this,” every time when we already know what to do, then our sinful nature is winning out over our Spirit-led life in Christ. You can live with focus and determination, in sacrifice, because you live in forgiveness. From this day, go forward with the sinful nature put to death in your life. The Scripture says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”6 And again, you have “been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God, who raised Him from the dead.”7
Easter does not mean all of the difficulties and struggles of your life will suddenly dissolve and happiness will always prevail. But the resurrection does mean that in the midst of your daily struggles you can have joy. No matter how wrong things go or how severe your struggles you can never be robbed of the promise of life eternal. There is a sublimity of beauty and joy that is well beyond our knowing in this life. It will be revealed in heaven, but we can anticipate it now. The Scripture says, “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”8 Death has no hold on Him and therefore it has no permanent power over us. Amen.
There was no body in the newly christened tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Your body won’t remain in your grave either. Thanks be to God! Amen.
Christ is risen!
He is Risen, indeed. Alleluia!
+ In nomine Jesu +
The Resurrection of our Lord
27 March, 2016
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt
1 Luke 24:5-6
2 1 Corinthians 15:54-57
3 Romans 8:37
4 Romans 6:23
5 Mark 8:37
6 2 Corinthians 5:17
7 Romans 6:4
8 Philippians 3:20