Redeemer Lutheran Church Blog

Easter, April 1, 2018 - St. Mark 16:1-8

Back to blog

Posted: Sunday, April 1st, 2018 by Pastor Westgate

They were too late. He’d already been anointed for burial a week before. In fact, Mary Magdalene, sister of Lazarus, was the one who’d done it! He even said to everyone, in her hearing, that she had anointed Him for His Burial and this would be remembered for all time. They didn’t need to buy any more spices. He wasn’t going to rot in that tomb anyway. He was going to come out alive.

But they purchased their spices that Holy Saturday night. The second Sabbath was ended, 6pm sharp, the markets opened and they were the first customers in line. They made the shopkeeper very happy that night. And they didn’t even know if they’d be able to access the Body! They weren’t strong enough to roll away the great big stone and they forgot to talk to Joseph or Nicodemus about it!

“Who shall roll away the stone from the sepulcher?” That’s their question. They thought they needed to get into the tomb to anoint Him, to finish the mortician duties the gentlemen started a couple days ago. We need somebody to open our graves, to peel off the grass and dirt, lift the cover of the vault, unlock and raise the cover of the casket, and lift us and our loves ones out of it, alive. We need somebody to do that!

How often do we think about that? Sorrow fills us at the graveside. We ponder that we’ll never see them again. If it weren’t for the prayers and readings and blessings the pastor reads over the bodies of the faithful, would we ever think about what is to come? Would we ever think out there that this is not the end? That the only reason this is a “final resting place” is because there’s no need to lie down and rest in the life to come?

Death is a problem. It’s not supposed to be here. Adam and Eve were supposed to go on living and never die. If only they had just kept that 1 command! But they broke the only rule they had. They ate that fruit because they sinfully desired it. And that desire was a rotten egg. It hatched the poison called death in them and all their descendents.

This poison fills us from the moment we’re conceived. That’s why you get sick. That’s why you can think bad thoughts and have bad desires. That’s why you can do bad things and not do the good things you’d like to do. That’s why you can hurt both mentally and physically. That’s why life is not just a box of chocolates but is full of thorns too. That’s why life is not always happy but is often sad. These things are not just part of life. God never designed life to be that way. They are symptoms of the death that poisons us, of the sin and death that dwell in us. And someday, it may be this week or it could be 90 years away, each one of us will be laid to rest in our own graves.

That’s a problem. Death is not good. It’s not our friend. It’s our enemy. We are meant to live forever. That’s why we struggle and strive to stay alive as long as we can. The body is supposed to live. Life is good. Death is bad. Life is supposed to win the day and not be overcome. Life overcame nothingness in the beginning and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. So how can this great problem, death, be overcome?

Jesus has overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. He alone could do it and He alone has done it. Almighty God broke into our mortal world. He did something gods aren’t supposed to do. He became a real live human being. Then He did something God can’t do: He died. The Body of God shouldn’t be able to die. There was no sin attached to it; that meant no death was attached to it. But He laid down His life. He decided to die, so He died.

God died. But death could not hold Him. It could not keep Him down. He was without sin, so death couldn’t claim Him. It had to let Him out when He said so. On His way out He crushed all its power. He destroyed any claim it might have on you, your loved ones, your friends, all people who have ever lived. He overcame it, for you!

This means the casket is not the last place you’ll ever be seen. When they lower you into the grave that will not be the last time anyone looks at you. You will be seen again. You will see again. These very eyes of yours will see your loved ones who also died in the Faith. But that’s not the most important part. What’s most important is this: with joy you shall see your risen Redeemer! You shall live forever with Him. He will lay His hand on You. You will awake from the grave and be with Him forever. Death is defeated! Death is dead! The life to come is truly everlasting! Rejoice!

How does this affect us now? Some people don’t like today’s Collect. They wonder why it would praise Almighty God for overcoming death and opening to us the gate of everlasting life through His Only-begotten Son Jesus Christ only to humbly beseech Him to put into our minds good desires so by His continual help we’ll bring them to good effect, which means we’ll make good on them, we’ll follow through with them. Why would you pray such a thing on Easter?

The Epistle tells us. St. Paul tells us to cast out the old leaven, the leaven of malice and wickedness. He begs us to be filled with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Why? Because Jesus has suffered for our sins. He was punished for them so He might forgive us. But He also did it to free us from sin. He did it to free us from our wicked desires, to implant in us good desires. He wants the wicked to be replaced with the good. In the life to come we will be without sin. So in this life He wants us to prepare for that life by doing what is right in His sight.

But we are sinners. We don’t know what is good on our own. That’s why our parents teach us when we’re little and why pastor teaches us the Catechism. We need God to teach us what’s good, and then we need Him to keep reminding us and encouraging us. We need His help. We can’t ever let go of Him. We sinners are too frail and weak to do it on our own. We need Him to work in us what is good and pleasing in His sight, to lead us in the path of good works He has prepared for us, to work in us to will and do according to His good pleasure.

Living according to God’s Ten Commandments – that’s the Easter life! Adam and Eve were supposed to live that way but failed. But God stepped in. He still wants us to live forever and He still wants us to live to please Him. So Jesus died for us and rose again. In His Word and Sacrament you find strength to love God and your neighbor. In them you find resurrection from the dead and life everlasting. That makes this life preparation for the perfect and holy life to come.

The women were frightened, amazed, trembling, distressed. You, O Christian, rejoice and be glad! Death is destroyed! Sin is crushed. Life has won the battle. Jesus lives! Death could not hold Him! So the troubles of this life will pass away. They are only momentary. Glory follows the storm of death. And that glory will have no end.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

Add a comment

Back to top