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Living in the Radiance of the Resurrection: Festival of the Resurrection, March 30th 2013 at Our Redeemer

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Festival of the Resurrection, March 30th 2013 at Our Redeemer

Isaiah 65:17-25 Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 1 Cor 15:19-26 John 20:1-18

Living in the Radiance of the Resurrection

Today we celebrate the Festival of the Resurrection. It is the day that we proclaim the resurrection, but we realize that God is making all things new in our lives as well as in the whole world, as Isaiah foretold. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God continues the creation making all things new. Today, however, we especially celebrate and declare Christ’s victory over death. So let’s take our prayer for the day to heart:

“O God, you gave your only Son to suffer death on the cross for our redemption, and by his glorious resurrection you delivered us from the power of death. Make us die every day to sin, that we may live forever in the joy of the resurrection.”

God gave his only begotten Son to suffer death on the cross. When Mary Magdalene came to the tomb in the darkness of that first Sunday morning, her hopes and all the hopes of the disciples had been dashed. Jesus had been the light of their lives. They experienced a love in his presence that had been unimaginable to them before. They had realized that no one could have done the things that Jesus did, unless he had come from God. Then he had been betrayed by one of his own disciples, the high priest of his own people and the council of Jerusalem had condemned him for blasphemy and had brought him to Pilate, the Roman governor, because they were not allowed to put someone to death. Then God’s own people who should have known better used a perversion of justice to have him put to death. But he was the one whom his inner circles recognized as the Messiah, that means, the long awaited One foretold by the prophets, the one, who came to us from Heaven to show the whole world the way to peace.

His own people not only had him put to death, but in the most brutal way. The Romans scourged him using a whip with iron balls and nails in the lashes, designed to tear the flesh off his back. A victim did not survive after being scourged. He was ridiculed and mocked by the soldiers, who played games with him, like a cat with a mouse; then put a crown of thorns on his head and a reed in his hand for a scepter. They made him look like a fool. Then he had to carry his own cross to a place outside the city walls called Golgotha, which means, the place of the skull, where the soldiers nailed him, as if he was a block of wood, against the splinters of that cross and let him choke and bleed there until he died. What a way to have one’s hopes dashed to pieces.

So Mary came to the tomb to grieve. She had done little else than cry until then. But she found the great stone that had been rolled in front of the entrance of the tomb rolled away. Many bodies in those days were stolen from their graves, so that is what she thought happened. She ran back to the disciples and told them how Jesus’ body had been stolen and she did not know where they had laid him.

So Peter and the other disciple, who was probably John, ran to the tomb to see what she was talking about. John got there first, but only looked in and now that it was getting light, he saw the napkins neatly rolled up and lying there. When Peter arrived, he went into the tomb and indeed, the cloths from the body were lying in a different place from the ones for the head, all neatly rolled up. That would not be the case if his body had been stolen. Peter left the tomb not comprehending, but John already believed. He must have remembered how Jesus said that he would be abused by the elders and chief priest of Jerusalem and would be killed, but in three days he would rise. It took Peter longer to understand; it took an appearance and encounter with the risen Christ for him to believe.

Mary stayed at the tomb in the confusion of her tearful grief. Stooping down and looking in, she saw two angels dressed in white, one sitting where the feet and one where the head of Jesus our Savior lay. “Woman, why are you weeping?” they asked. And she answered, “They have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have laid him.” All these dashed hopes and now even his body had been stolen, which for her was too much to bear. That they were two angels must have meant that things in Heaven were already touching the earth. Turning around she saw Jesus standing there, but supposing him to be the gardener she said, “Sir if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). She must have run to him and held on to his legs, because Jesus tells her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and tell my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your father, to my God and your God.’”

Jesus says only “tell my brothers” but notice who the first apostle is to proclaim the resurrection! It is Mary Magdalene. Whenever and to whomever the risen Lord appeared he sends to proclaim the Good News. An apostle means “the one sent”. And it is Mary Magdalene who becomes the first apostle, despite what men later wrote excluding the women.

In addressing her and the other disciples, Jesus also alludes to the tender words of love that Ruth once said to Naomi:

Do not press me to leave you and to turn back from following you! Where you go I will go. Where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people and your God my God. Where you die; I will die – and there will I be buried. May the Lord do thus and so to me and more as well, if even death parts me from you! (Ruth 1:16-17)

Thus Ruth’s words become true in the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, our Lord of life and love. Nothing at all, not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. And in the power of the resurrection, God vindicated Jesus Christ, and let him appear to his disciples and change them into apostles, that is, those who are sent to proclaim the Good News that we are more than conquerors and the crucified Christ was more than victorious.

Many of the disciples only believed after seeing Christ appear to them. But Christ said, “Blessed are they who without seeing believe.” Our faith comes by hearing. Over and over again in this story, seeing is not believing. Mary thinks she sees the gardener. It is when she hears Jesus’ call her name, that she sees him. It is through hearing the Good News that we see and believe, even here and now today. When you hear the Good News preached and feel the real presence of Christ, you come to believe and then the power of his resurrection changes you, like it changed those cowering and fearfully hiding disciples into bold apostles who stood up smack in the middle of the temple and witnessed to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

So angels of God rolled the stone of death away, so the Lord of life could rise, and nothing can separate us from his love. In the radiant resurrection God raised up his Son, Jesus Christ from the dead, and he appeared to Mary Magdalene, Peter, John, Thomas, the Emmaus disciples and all the others.

God vindicated the crucified Christ! “The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”  Now Christ is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. Christ, the right hand of the Lord is exalted, because he not only defeated the cruel powers and principalities of this world that only know how to inflict death and the fear of death. Christ proceeded to defeat death itself and made it serve life in the powerful life of love that overcomes death.

The death of Christ swallowed up our death so with St. Paul we can now exclaim: “O Grave where is your victory! O death where is your sting?” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

You all!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

Christ buried death in the grave so that we could all be saved.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

Luther called this way of speaking “delicious language”:

Christ put death to death, buried it in the grave, told hell to go there, gave the devil to the devil, sinned against sin, and rose up in the radiant righteousness of the resurrection!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

Yes, Christ buried death in the grave so we could all be saved.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

The Son of God arose on the first day of the week and we come to worship not in darkness, but in the sunshine of the resurrection. “This is the day that the Lord has made.”

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

“Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

We shall not die, but live and declare the [marvelous] works of the Lord!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

The bonds of death are broken, the Heavens now are open!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

Christ is risen from death’s dark prison, with healing in his wings, eternal life he brings!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

“By your glorious resurrection, O Christ, you delivered us from the power of death. Make us die every day to sin, so that we may live forever [with you] in the joy of the resurrection!”

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, Hallelujah!

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Written by peterkrey

April 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm

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