Easter Sunday

April 21, 2019

Summary

Alleluia!  Jesus Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Today is a joyous day for us, a day of total joy in the celebration of our Savior’s resurrection to new life.  And if it is such for us, we might imagine how the disciples felt that first Easter morning upon hearing the news of the empty grave, they must have been wild in their excitement, right?

Well, no.  It did not happen like that.  Yes, it was on that glorious morning as the sun rose into a new day, that the amazing news of Jesus’ resurrection from death, started to dawn upon the disciples, and I am not speaking here of simply the remaining eleven apostles, but all of Jesus’ faithful followers.  Though the women heard the good news from the two men before the tomb, angels we assume, we read that it took a while for this new reality to be believed.

The women had seen the empty tomb, met the angels, and heard them ask, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

When the women returned with the news that the angels had told them…that Jesus was risen from the grace, the men would not believe them.  Verse eleven reads, “But these words seemed to them [the men] an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”

At least Peter ran to see the vacant grave for himself, and the germ of a new belief started to take hold.  Yet we need to know that there were not joyous celebrations that first Sunday morning.

We have to understand that on that first Easter morning there was not instantaneous belief, followed by a joyous celebration by Jesus’ disciples, but rather a slow dawning, a creeping realization that the news was real, that Jesus really had risen from death to life.  It took encounter after encounter between the risen Jesus and his followers for them to finally fully believe.  Perhaps, that was the best way for them to be able to accept this greatest of all miracles, that is, to digest it slowly and fully.

In reality it took years for the original disciples, and then that first generation of post-resurrection Christians to truly digest what had happened by Jesus’ death and resurrection to new life.  You see, even immediately afterward, when he spent time with them and while he talked with them in those weeks between his resurrection and ascension to heaven, his followers did not understand fully.  They were mostly overjoyed to have him back, while at the same time being in awe of him as well, their Rabbi returned to them from the dead.

In the portion from Psalm 118 that Marianne read this morning it reads, “The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.”

When reading this verse again it hit me that this verse might have been written for the disciples.  Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion the disciples could have spoken of Jesus very strongly as their strength and might, for he was that to them.  Yet, it was not until after his resurrection, and more importantly after they came to understand what Jesus did for them in his death, could they add those last five words, “…he has become my salvation.”

It was when the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples at Pentecost that they fully came to understand what Jesus had done, and why.  Then it was only in retrospect, in remembering Jesus’ words that he spoke to them over the years, in recalling his parables, and in reliving the wonder of his miracles that the disciples, the apostles’, the teachers and preachers of the early church came to fully understand what Jesus had done for them.

Jesus became their Savior, and ours, in the moment that he died in our place, and then broke the power of sin and death by his resurrection to new life.  As it reads in the Psalm’s 23rd verse, “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

So, it is Jesus’ work that makes him our salvation.  It is Jesus, the Lamb of God, dying in our place, being sacrificed for our sins who is our Savior.  It is he whom accomplishes our salvation, making us righteous, only because he is righteous.  “This is the Lord’s doing!”

Alleluia!

Yet, even as we receive his gift of salvation through our faith in him, we need to take the time, find the learning and make the effort to contemplate what Jesus has done for us.  We too need to arrive at the point that we can declare of Jesus, “…he has become my salvation.”

Being born again into Jesus, is like our human births, it’s nothing that we have done to make it happen.  Even though immediately we might understand that we have new life, it takes years to realize what has truly happened and to understand it the best we can.  Just as our parents, hopefully helped us to grow in our lives as the unique people we are, our God is here to help us to understand our life in him, and to become the people he has created us to be.

Like those first disciples we get to spend our lives learning the fullness of what it is for Jesus to have become our salvation.  We get to grow in the joy of living in God’s Kingdom today and every day, understanding his forgiveness, and knowing the richness of his love.  We also can experience his leading, as he guides us in our gifts and passions in which we find our unique purpose in life.

Unlike those first disciples though, we understand what Easter is all about, and we get to truly rejoice, and celebrate today our Savior’s resurrection from death to life.  We know that that means we also have been raised to new life in him!

As the Psalm reading ends, let me also end my sermon this morning with the words, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

Alleluia!  Jesus Christ is Risen!  He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Amen, and happy Easter!

 

Bible References

  • Psalm 118:1 - 2
  • Psalm 118:14 - 24
  • Luke 24:1 - 12

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