Be Not Afraid!

The following excerpts were preached by Andrew Eckert in his sermon simply titled – “An Easter Sermon”:

Luke 24:1-11

Today we enter a new universe! The old passes away as we step out of the tomb of our old life and into the bright dawning of a new creation . . . !

In the old creation, the inevitable end of all things is death. We mortal creatures can only hold onto life for so long. It is our own fault. We were created for immortality, but we all chose the path of disobedience, corruption, and death.

The women approached the tomb of Jesus with spices in their hands, spices for a dead body, to keep away the stench of decay. They were following the rules of the old creation, rules of decay and death.

What they did not realize was that the rules had changed. That very morning, Jesus Christ had altered and reversed the order of the universe. Instead of life leading to death, now death worked backwards into life. The corpse, the dead body of Jesus in the Tomb, suddenly and miraculously breathed again. The heart beat, the blood flowed in His veins, warmth returned to Him, He opened His eyes, and He stood on His feet, not conquered by death, but the Conqueror of death. . . .

The rules have changed.

The women soon found out, because not only is the body of Christ not where it should be, but there are also angels proclaiming, “He is not here! He is risen!”

Now, for those of us in the new creation through faith in Christ, this is the rule: Everything revolves around Life. Dead bodies do not remain where they are left, because, soon enough, they will walk forth from their graves . . . You are not marching toward the grave, but instead are traveling inevitably toward the consummation of immortality. You already have the eternal life of the Son of God inside you. Some of us will never enter the grave at all, not even for a brief visit, because soon enough Christ will return on the clouds of glory. Those believers who are left will be caught up with Him in the sky. Then death will be completely destroyed, and immortality will rule. . . .

When the poor women were confronted by the raw reality of the new, life-filled universe crashing and colliding into the old world, those women became bewildered. Where is the Body? Has someone taken it away? Even the sight of two angels is no comfort, but only makes them more perplexed and frightened. All this is because they have forgotten that Jesus Himself promised that He would rise on the third day.

Even the disciples, when they were told the news, could not understand. To them, the women seemed delirious, telling fanciful stories. . . .

When death and decay attack us, how easily we forget that we are citizens of a different world, a new creation with new rules. This present life with its troubles is only a light, momentary sorrow before the beginning of everlasting joy and glory. Even death has no sting for us. The grave is empty. It is hollow because Christ has removed its strength. . . .

Our sinful flesh still lives in the old world of defeat, always trying but failing. Yet we have also received a new nature in the new birth . . . and in the Word of the living Christ. This new nature has already won the victory with Jesus Christ, since God declares His victory ours. Although we also are the sinful men who crucified Jesus of Nazareth with our sins, now we are justified, that is, we are judged innocent of any crime whatsoever.

In the eyes of God, we shine brightly like lightning, like the angels, because we are covered by the image of the Son of God. We are clothed in His righteousness, covered with His holiness. We shine before God like the dawning of the new creation.

Therefore, let us not act as if we are still in the old world of death. . . . Although griefs shall surely assail us in this lifetime, yet they are only brief pangs before the unbroken joy of Paradise. For we cannot be defeated by any power in this world, not Satan nor death nor hell, since Christ is our Champion, who has crushed all our enemies under His feet.

So let us not be confused or afraid, as the women were, because they could not find the Body of Christ. We know where His Body is. It is among His people, upon the Altar of His House, as He gives it for the forgiveness of sins.

Yet His Body is hidden, not visible to fleshly eyes. For this is not the time for us to see Christ openly. But we shall see Him face to face at the Resurrection of all flesh, when the new heaven and new earth break forth in majesty and perfection.

The Spirit of God preserve you in His Church until that Day. Amen. (St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Wellston, Oklahoma – Sunday, April 24, 2011)

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