“Alleluia! Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!” (Matthew 28:1-10)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
April 12, 2020

“Alleluia! Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!” (Matthew 28:1-10)

“Alleluia! Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

“He is risen indeed!” Over many centuries, this is how the church has joyfully responded to the great Easter proclamation. Why such an exuberant response? Because of the glorious good news that precedes it, the news that Christ is risen. This good news of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ brings reassurance and restoration to troubled, weary hearts. His resurrection calls forth our joyous response. On this Easter Day, then, on this most glorious of mornings, the whole church in heaven and the church on earth–all across the earth–hears the good news, “Christ is risen,” and we rejoice to respond, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

But first comes God’s word to us: “Christ is risen.” That’s what the angel said to the women at the tomb: “I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” This is the great fact of the resurrection stated–or I should say, understated—in such simple yet profound words. The reality of the resurrection itself is the first thing that grabs our attention. Jesus really did die, he was buried, and he lay in the tomb since Friday. Now he is arisen, alive, risen from the dead! Jesus Christ is the destroyer of death and the Lord of life. By his resurrection from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ is declared to be the Son of God in power. The grave could not hold him. Our Savior broke the chains of death, and by his resurrection he has brought life and immortality to light.

“I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. . . . He has risen.” This announcement by the angel brings together the two central events at the heart of the gospel, and they are: Christ’s death and Christ’s resurrection. On the cross, Jesus finished the work of our redemption. And now his resurrection declares the sufficiency of his saving work. The resurrection testifies to the infinite worth and the astonishing effect of his atoning sacrifice. You see, on the cross Jesus Christ made the perfect sacrifice for all the sins of the whole world. Nothing else would do.

This is the good news for you: The holy precious blood of God’s own Son saves you. God has acted to save you from your sins and from the death you deserve. God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, was crucified for you! This is how much God loves you! Amazing! What grace! What a gift! And as a result, God is now at peace with you! God is reconciled to us sinners–he must be–for the sacrifice of the Son has been accepted by the Father. Easter shows that Good Friday did the job. Nothing left to be done. It is finished, complete. Christ’s death paid for all our sin and overcame death itself. The crucifixion and the resurrection together declare the glory and grace of our God. And we hear it now in the angel’s words: “Jesus who was crucified . . . has risen.”

What’s more, says the angel, “He has risen, as he said.” Just as he said! Jesus himself had foretold his resurrection. Not only had he predicted his passion, his suffering and death, but with it he also promised that on the third day he would be raised to life. The disciples didn’t understand it at the time, but Jesus had told them, nonetheless. Therefore the resurrection attests to the truthfulness of all of Christ’s teachings. His words, all of them, are true and trustworthy. They are sound and sure. Indeed, they are Spirit and life. Jesus has the words of enteral life. There is nothing more trustworthy for you to rely on. You can stake your life on the word of Christ.

You know, right now we are facing a lot of uncertainty in our life. There are uncertainties about our health and safety. Can I leave my home and go out in public? There are uncertainties about our economic future. Will I have a job when this thing is over? When will that day come? Will my life savings be evaporated by then? Plenty of uncertainty for all of us.

But there is one thing that we can be absolutely sure of. And that is the completed work and trustworthy word of Christ. Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. And amid all the uncertainties of this life, we have this solid rock on which to stand: The promise of the Lord that he forgives us of our sins, he has given us eternal life, and he will come again and raise our bodies to live with him forever. This–this is most certainly true!

Friends, you can depend on what Jesus tells you. Follow him, keep on following him and listening to his voice, as he preaches his word to you, as he teaches you what it means to be his disciple. His words are trustworthy and true, as the resurrection so powerfully demonstrates. “He has risen, as he said.”

Now you would think this proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection would bring forth nothing but pure joy. But our text says that the women “departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy.” Yes, their joy was great, yet it was mixed with fear. They weren’t sure how to put this all together.

But Jesus meets the frightened women, and he calms their fears. “Greetings!” he says. “Be of good cheer,” in other words. Jesus reassures the women with the sound of his familiar voice. He greets them with a word of well-being. And happiness and joy certainly come to these women, now that they see their Lord before them and hear his voice.

Then Jesus gives them even more reassurance: “Do not be afraid.” Fear not, for the perfect love of Christ drives out our fears. The fear of punishment, the fear of God’s judgment, the fear of death–all these fears are overcome by the comforting voice of Jesus our Savior. Jesus speaks these same words of reassurance to us today: “Greetings! Do not be afraid. I have risen from the dead. I have conquered the grave. I have the keys of Death and Hades. They are a defeated enemy. Listen, I am not angry with you. God is not angry. Listen, I have good news for you! You are forgiven. You have life with me. I give it to you freely. Be reassured by my resurrection.”

So amazing is this grace of our risen Lord! And now he says to the women, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” This is in reference to his disciples when he says, “Tell my brothers.” But think of it, these are the same disciples who had deserted and denied their Lord, in his hour of trial, just a few nights earlier. Yet here Jesus calls them his brothers. In doing so, Jesus is speaking pardon for their lack of faith. He is speaking restoration. Jesus is restoring them to his fellowship. Instead of saying, “Forget those guys, they blew it! They were faithless when it came to crunch time”–no, instead of that, Jesus says, “Go and tell my brothers.”

Restoration to fellowship–this is a gift that Christ gives to his disciples, both then and now. Today Jesus speaks his word of restoration to you, as well. Have you wandered from the faith? Have you absented yourself from the fellowship of Christ’s church? Today Jesus is restoring you. He is calling you back to himself, back to his family, the church. Jesus calls us sinners his brothers.

What hope, what riches are ours as a result! Martin Luther writes: “If now Christ is our brother, I would like to know what we still lack? Brethren in the flesh have common possessions, have together one father, one inheritance, else they would not be brethren. So we have common possessions with Christ, and have together one Father and one inheritance.”

Brothers and sisters, in Holy Baptism, you and I were united to Christ, and we were made God’s children. Now we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. Our Lord’s resurrection, then, is the guarantee of our own resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection life has been delivered to you in the waters of Holy Baptism. On this Easter Day, my fellow baptized Christians, take hope in the victory over death that Jesus gives you. You have been raised with Christ to newness of life even now, and on the day when Christ returns, we will share in his bodily resurrection and the life that lasts forever.

Dear friends, today the Lord’s messenger announces the good news of Easter to us: “Jesus who was crucified . . . has risen, as he said.” Today our risen Lord himself cheers us with his presence, his familiar and comforting voice speaking to us his reassuring, restorative words: “Greetings! Do not be afraid. I call you my brothers and sisters.” Now hearing these gospel words, what other response could we have but one of joy and worship? This is why we say, “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” Today we join with all Christians around the world in one big joyous Easter worship. Temporary isolation cannot stop or muffle the joy that bursts out from within us.

Jesus Christ, our crucified Savior, is risen from the dead. He is here with us now, as we are gathered in his name. Our response then? We rejoice to worship him, to give our Lord the highest honor and praise. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” “Therefore let us joyful be and sing to God right thankfully loud songs of alleluia!”

Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Published in: on April 11, 2020 at 9:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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