1. St. Paul writes: "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." I Cor. 15:17-22.
2. Jesus foretold His death and resurrection three times: Mt. 16:21; Mt. 17:22-23; Mt. 20:17-19. The disciples were sad. Jesus spoke of His going away and coming back in Jn. 13-17. Again the disciples were sad. When He was crucified all except John forsook Him. When He was placed in the grave they hid. For them death was frightening and resurrection was impossible. The women went to the tomb expecting to anoint a dead Jesus. All of this shows us how deep the unbelief even of God's children is. Only Jesus and His Word can remove the blindness of our unbelief.
3. From conception until death, the state of humiliation, though Jesus was true God He did not flaunt His divinity. He proved His divinity by His miracles, His Word and His transfiguration, Mt. 17:1-8. From the time He became alive in His grave Jesus' human nature used the qualities of the divine nature. His body passed through the stone. His human nature was everywhere. He appeared and disappeared. Thomas acknowledged that His human nature knew everything. His human nature is with us everywhere, even to the end of the world. His body is present in the Lord's Supper. In Bethlehem Jesus came as a lowly servant who made nothing of His divinity. But on Judgment Day He will appear in all His glory. Since His resurrection, Jesus has been in the state of exaltation. He will reign forever and ever.
4. The guards became like dead men because of fear of the earthquake and the appearance of the angel. Even though the women believed and were joyful they left the tomb with fear. There is a similarity. Sinful, human mortals all fear because they are sinners. But there is a difference too. The guards reported Jesus' resurrection but took a bribe to tell lies about it. Mt. 28:11-15. But the women, though they were fearful, spread the news about Jesus' resurrection. Both the angels and Jesus (vss. 5 and 10) say: "Do not be afraid." Then they give the reason, the good news. We, too, are fearful, but the good news quiets our fears. Jesus speaks to us like a mother to a frightened child.
5. The women came to the tomb as mourners but left rejoicing. That's what Easter does for us too.
6. After the resurrection Jesus referred to His disciples as "children" and "brothers". Read the comforting words of Heb. 2:14-18 where He calls us "brothers". Despite my many sins He gives me everything and calls me His brother. I am His co-heir. Rom. 8:17.
7. Christ was delivered for our sins and raised again for our justification. Rom. 4:25. His death blotted out all sins. His resurrection declared all men free of their guilt. His resurrection proves His divinity. Rom. 1:4. His resurrection is the judgment of acquittal for the whole world. Rom. 5:16ff. Christ has become the firstfruits of them that slept. I Cor. 15:20.
8. There were earthquakes when Jesus died and when He rose again. They occur constantly as signs of the coming judgment. Lk. 21:11. When an earthquake occurs it's as if the earthquake is saying: "listen, the Lord is speaking!" See Ex. 19:18; Num. 16:31; I Kings 19:11; Job 9:6; Ps. 18:7; 68:8; 77:18; Is. 5:25; 13:13; 24:18; 29:6; Jer. 10:10; 49:21; Joel 2:10; Nah. 1:5; Hag. 2:6. Earthquakes remind us that only the Lord Jesus and His Word can help us.
THEME: Come and See--Go and Tell!
St. Paul says: "Just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive." I Cor. 15:22. And Jesus said: "The time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and those who have done good will rise to a resurrection of life but those who have done evil will rise to a resurrection of judgment." Jn. 5:28.29. Easter is a day of learning. I learn about myself and I learn about Jesus. The Gospel teaches me to know Him and the power of His resurrection. Php. 3:10. That's why I came to church today.
I. COME AND SEE!
A. That's what happened on the first Easter Sunday. Ever since Christ rose from the dead on Sunday Christians meet on that day for worship. See I Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10. It was a momentous occasion. What Jesus did then, changed the prospect of eternity for all people. The disciples had been told three times about Jesus' resurrection. Mt. 16:21; Mt. 17:22-23; Mt. 20:17-19. But they did not understand. Just before He suffered (Jn. 16:3.28) He told them He would go away and come back. But they were sad. They locked themselves in a house because of fear. The women came to Jesus' tomb expecting to embalm a dead man. Mk. 16:1; Lk. 24:1. But they found an angel sitting on the stone which had been rolled away. He said: "Come and see the place where He lay." According to Lk. 24:5 the angels said: "Why do you seek the living One among the dead?" No need for the spices. No need to mourn. HE IS ALIVE!
B. That's what happens to us on this day. We have heard and read often that Jesus rose from the dead. Every week we confess: "He was raised again from the dead on the third day." But we have our doubts. Lk. 24:11 tells us that when the women reported to the disciples "these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them." And Mk. 16:11: "When they heard that He was alive, and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it." Unbelief is our greatest danger. So often we find ourselves doubting or saying: "The Gospel is for others, not for me. I am hopeless." NOT SO! Jesus says: "Because I live you too will live." Jn. 14:19. With Job we must confess: "I know that my Redeemer lives and I myself will see Him." Job 19:25-27. He says: "Come and see!"
II. GO AND TELL!
A. That's what happened on the first Easter Sunday. The angel did not tell the women that they would celebrate at the tomb. No. He said: "Go quickly and tell." And we read: "They went quickly." Their emotions were a mixture of fear and joy but they obeyed the word of the angel. They didn't merely go. They ran. They wanted to tell the disciples. Of all things, Jesus met them. He greeted them. They worshipped Him. He repeated the angel's word: "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brothers that they would go to Galilee. There they will see Me." Why did the women obey? Because they believed both the angel and Jesus. Faith proves itself by its works. Gal. 5:6. Faith without works is dead and vain. Js. 2:20. Later they all met Jesus in Galilee and He gave them His final Word. Mt. 28:16-20. They obeyed His Word.
B. That's what happens to us on this day. Like the women we are a mixture of fear and joy. But the joy overcomes the fear. Jesus and His Word keep saying to us: "Do not be afraid. I have redeemed you. Because I live you too will live. Go and tell My brothers." Jesus is my Brother. With Him I pray: "Our Father, Who art in heaven." Read Heb. 2:14-18. There you read what our Brother did for His children. He is our faithful High Priest.
COME AND SEE! GO AND TELL! CHRIST IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!