Easter Sermon

If you would like to watch this sermon instead of reading it double-click on this link: https://youtu.be/Uc4oNcGr1m0

Here is a bonus video discussion on the thought: “There is no god.”  https://youtu.be/04imKoN5t30

Here is a video link for the prayers for Easter Sunday: https://youtu.be/0YGKOV6FaKE

Note: All Scripture quotations in the written sermon are taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, ESV Text Edition: 2016.  Copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and our Resurrected and reigning Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen

The sermon text for the Resurrection of our Lord is the epistle reading from Colossians 3:1-4, along with the Gospel reading from Matthew chapter 28:1-10.  The epistle reading is as follows:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

Intro: Last week the city of Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus pandemic started, began to reopen.  People started to reappear on the streets and shops have started to reopen.  A reporter spoke to one shopper:  “I’m so excited, I want to cry,” said a woman on one of Wuhan’s major shopping streets, who would give only her English name Kat, a teacher from the eastern city of Nanjing.  She was visiting her family when the city of Wuhan went into lockdown.  “After two months trapped at home I want to jump,” said Kat, jumping up and down excitedly to the reporter, “I want to revenge shop.”(Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/china-wuhan-stores-reopen-1.5514658)…Maybe our Chinese neighbours aren’t so different than us after all!

It goes without saying that our minds are fixated these days on all things Coronavirus-related.  Everything in the news and on the radio is about the virus.  But today is Easter, a day whose meaning and joy permeates and breaks through any worldly suffering or hardship.  Today we have hope and joy from God which has no bounds and so today we set our hearts and minds on things that are above where our glorious and resurrected Saviour Jesus Christ is found.

This is a day to lift up our heads and rejoice because today is the day of the resurrection!  Life has come from death.  Hope has come from despair.  Lift up your head in joy today to see what Christ has done!   

Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James almost certainly had their heads down as they travelled to the tomb.  They were going there to anoint the body of the Lord Jesus with spices.  All seemed lost: Jesus their Lord and teacher had died and now it seemed that there was no hope for the future.

But then the angel appeared and rolled back the stone covering the entrance to the tomb and when the women made it to the tomb he announced good news from above: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” (Mt 28:5-7)

And then even more glorious than the angel’s message was the sight of Jesus Himself, not dead but alive, in the flesh, and greeting them: “And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him.” (Mt. 28:9b)  With their own hands they felt their Lord’s feet who had risen from the dead.

I. In the epistle reading, Paul points us in our Easter joy to “Keep seeking the things that are above.”

Today we joyously meditate on the resurrected Christ who reigns in heaven and our present and future life with our resurrected Saviour.

Jesus’ resurrection means our faith is not in vain or misguided in the least, it is based on the power of God to give life to His Son Jesus after He died for our sin.  The fact that Jesus could live after His kind of death means nothing, nothing at all, can separate you from the love of God and the power of the resurrection He gives.  

Yet Paul’s words to “keep seeking the things above” don’t mean that things on earth have no value!  For it was precisely in Christ becoming one of us that He saved us-like for like-in this world by giving his physical body for us as a holy sacrifice for our sin on the cross.

So our vocations where we lovingly serve one another and our neighbour still are important, but Paul is pointing us especially to something else.  

Paul’s invitation is to believe in what Christ, who now reigns in heaven, has accomplished for you this Easter Day.

A. “If you have been raised with Christ…” (Col 3:1a).  Paul assumes a positive answer: you have been raised with Christ in your baptism, have no doubt of that.  

B. “…seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above…” (Col 3:1b-2a)

Christ is seated at the right hand of power in heaven now and no earthly persecutor or power will ever bother Him again.  In fact, He is Lord now over all things in His resurrection.  He gives life to you and to all who trust in Him, a life that is the power through death in a bodily resurrection and a supreme confidence that no earthly sickness or death itself can keep you from a resurrection like your Lord’s and an untroubled and joyous life before the Triune God in heaven.

Christ has won.  Satan has lost.

Christ’s church is victorious, though she be persecuted by all means.

While this world is in bondage to decay, Jesus has given you life and you will live in the new world He will create which will never ever disappoint, degrade or yield disappointment, let alone sickness or death.  For God will ever be there, ever giving You His beloved son or daughter life and light.

C. “…not on things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2b)

Yet once you are baptized into Christ a spiritual battle begins here on earth.  All around us, and within us, are lies (atheism, evolution) and forces that are trying to bury us and ground us from Christ’s Easter victory.  Some of the lies around us are the lies of atheism like evolution and the assertion that there is no God.  Often on Easter, Satan desperate to squelch our joy will try and have us think, “There is no God.”  But as David says in the Psalms, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1)  These are foolish thoughts of the devil, give them no heed and look at and worship Christ your God and Saviour risen from the dead!  Other lies that try and bury and ground us from Christ’s Easter victory is legalism.  As St. Paul wrote to the Colossians they were grappling with legalism influenced by Christians of Jewish descent who said that a Christian had to follow all of the Law of Moses or they could not be saved.  And Paul writes the book of Colossians to counter this way of thinking and living calling this type of works-righteousness “your old way of life.” (Col 2:11-12)  Christ and Christ alone has won your salvation on the cross and in His resurrection this day.  Save good works aplenty for your neighbour but rejoice in Christ’s work to save you from sin and death today.

Maybe it is not legalism but your past sins that are bringing you down to an earthly way of looking at your relationship with Christ, as if God could never be pleased with you.  Today is all about those thoughts!  Today is the day for you to see all that Christ has done to forgive you each and every one of your sins and today especially is the day to see that Christ’s saving work for you has been accomplished.  It is finished.  Your sins have died with Christ and now He’s risen and they are gone and it is God’s work.

II. On this most glorious day we set our hearts on pondering God’s completed work of Christ’s resurrection! 

Our peace doesn’t come from anything we do today it comes only from what God has done out of His love for us.  

Christ came to this world because He would not let Satan have a lasting victory over Adam and Eve.  God would not let Satan walk away the victor from the garden of Eden.  Where humanity lost, the Son of God in the flesh has won!

Jesus conquered in the strange way of dying, only to rise to new life.

The Good News Christ delivers to you today is His victory over sin and death.  His resurrection is living proof that God the Father has accepted His Son’s sacrifice for you, freeing you from sin and promising you a new life after you die!

Now our Lord reigns in His great Easter glory as He sits at God’s right hand in heaven!

Meditate on that for a minute… The battle is won…God is victorious…He has shared the spoils of His victory with us…Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ anymore.  God is in control of everything and our Lord reigns!

III. And one day, our victorious Saviour will come down from heaven again, to change everything!

One day, the battle and the fight will be over, we won’t have to keep telling our foolish heart God does exist or do better to be forgiven!  These foolish thoughts will finally be out of our heads.  For the Risen Lord Jesus will personally forgive us all our sins face-to-face on the Last Day and we will see his crucified hands and feet which have won us our eternal pardon.

One day, Christ will be revealed, and all who trust Him will be revealed with Him in glory.  This will be our second Easter as Christ raises us from the dead to live and reign with Him.

Conclusion: Today is our day because it is Christ’s day.Today Christ bids you to lift your head high in praise and admiration as you ponder Him reigning in heaven, having risen from the dead.Our eternal future has as its anchor the first Easter when Christ rose from the dead and appeared to the two Marys.As He went before the women and the disciples He will always go before you, guiding you until you rest in faith and He raises you bodily from the dead.That is our beautiful focus today.

But O.K. we’ll talk about the present for just a bit.  I’m not sure what the first thing you are going to do when they let us out of these social distancing restrictions.  Maybe you’ll go buy something.  Maybe, you’ll invite your family and friends over for a big barbeque and celebration.  No matter what the coming days bring we have hope for Jesus Christ, God in the flesh who loved us unto death is alive again and He now reigns forever in power and grace.

Today on Easter we lift up our eyes to see Christ’s victory over all our enemies and we look forward to that great day when all the Church will be gathered together for the endless Easter celebration that will come when Christ raises us from the dead and we eat and drink with God in the new creation.Until that day comes we have enough here, because Christ is with us and He has won our salvation.  In Jesus’ Holy Name.  Amen.