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

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
Sunday, April 9, 2023

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

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

“He is risen indeed!” Why such a joyful response? Because of the glorious good news that Christ is risen from the dead. This good news of the resurrection of our Lord brings joy and gladness to troubled, weary hearts. His resurrection calls forth our joyous response. On this Easter Day, then, the whole church on earth–all across the earth–hears the good news, “Christ is risen,” and we 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 great fact of the resurrection is stated 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 on Sunday morning he is alive, risen from the dead!

On that Sunday morning, there was a whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on! First, there was a great earthquake, an angel came down, and the stone was rolled away. Then the guards who were assigned to guard a dead man–they started shaking with fear and became like dead men! This was truly an earth-shaking event!

Listen, Jesus Christ is the destroyer of death. He is the Lord of life. By his resurrection, Jesus is declared to be the Son of God in power. Death could not hold him. The grave could not keep 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 key events at the heart of the gospel: Christ’s death and Christ’s resurrection. On the cross, Jesus finished the work of our redemption. Now his resurrection shows the result of his saving work. The resurrection testifies to the astonishing effect of his atoning sacrifice. You see, on the cross Christ made the perfect sacrifice for all the sins of the whole world.

This is 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 the death you deserve. God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, was crucified for you! This is how much God loves you! What grace! What a gift! As a result, God is now at peace with you! God is reconciled to us sinners, because of the sacrifice of his Son. Easter shows that Good Friday did the job. There’s 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 go together, and they declare the glory and grace of our God. We hear it in the words of the angel: “Jesus who was crucified . . . has risen.”

What’s more, the angel says, “He has risen, as he said.” As he said! Jesus himself had foretold his resurrection. Not only had he predicted his passion–his suffering and death–but with it he 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. Thus 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, his words are Spirit and they are life. There is nothing more trustworthy for you to rely on. You can stake your life on the words of Christ. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Listen, you may be facing a lot of uncertainty in your life. Health uncertainties. Economic uncertainties. Uncertainties about relationships, about your family. But there is one thing you can be absolutely sure of. And that is the completed work and the trustworthy word of Jesus Christ. Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. Amid all the uncertainties of life, we have this solid rock to stand on. Our Lord has promised that he forgives our sins, he gives us eternal life, and he will come again and raise our bodies to live with him forever. This–all of this–is most certainly true!

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

Now you would think the angel’s proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection would elicit nothing but pure joy. But our text says that the women “departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy.” Their joy was great, but so was their fear. They weren’t sure what to make of all this, how to put it all together.

But Jesus meets these frightened women and calms their fears. “Greetings!” he says. “Be of good cheer.” 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.

And Jesus gives them even more reassurance: “Do not be afraid.” Fear not. 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 our Savior.

Jesus speaks these same words of reassurance to you today: “Greetings! Do not be afraid. I have risen from the dead. I have conquered the grave. I hold the keys of Death and Hades. They are a defeated enemy. Listen, I am not angry with you. God is not angry with you. 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 great is the grace of our risen Lord! And now he gives the women a message to relay: “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” “Go and tell my brothers.” This he says in reference to his disciples–those same disciples who had deserted him and denied their Lord, in his hour of trial, just a few nights earlier.

Yet Jesus calls them his brothers. Jesus here is speaking pardon for their lack of faith. 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.”

Christ restores his disciples to fellowship. And he does the same for you. Have you wandered from the faith? Have you absented yourself from the fellowship of Christ’s church? Today Jesus is restoring you. He’s calling you back to himself, back to his family, back to his church. Jesus calls unreliable disciples like you and me–he calls us his brothers.

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. We were made God’s children. And so 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, take hope in the victory over death that Jesus gives you. You have been raised with Christ to newness of life even now. And, when Christ returns, we will share in his bodily resurrection and the life that lasts forever.

And notice, Christ’s resurrection is a physical, bodily resurrection: The women come up, it says, and take hold of his feet. Ghosts don’t have feet you can grasp. So, likewise, our resurrection at the last day will be a physical, bodily resurrection. Our mortal bodies will be raised and made whole and glorious, never to die again.

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 comforting voice speaking his reassuring, restorative words: “Greetings! Do not be afraid. I call you my brothers and sisters.” Hearing these 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 are joining with all our fellow Christians around the world in one big, joyous Easter worship.

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? We rejoice. We worship him. We 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 8, 2023 at 1:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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