An Easter Resurrection and Response!
Dear Heavenly Father, by Your divine grace and through Your almighty power You raised Jesus Christ from the dead and, thereby, declared Him to be Your Son and our Savior from sin, death, and Satan. On this Easter Sunday as we come before You to hear Your Word and to thank You for Your many blessings, please send Your Holy Spirit to fill our minds with understanding and our hearts with zeal. Cause us, O Lord, to fill Your house with praise, even as You have filled our lives with Your certain love. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Paul defends the truth of Jesus' physical resurrection by citing all who saw him alive after that resurrection. he also points out the necessity of that resurrection to our salvation and the hope that resurrection gives us concerning our own resurrection at the end of time.
Text: John 20:1-10
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
In the living Christ Jesus, dear fellow-redeemed:
We were travelling in a train across the rural countryside of Germany. The man sitting next to me was perhaps in his mid-70s. He was dressed in a suit that may well have been older than I, but yet made him look distinguished and well dressed. It became apparent that he was on his way to conduct some sort of business. He had a portfolio of papers which he clutched tightly, and he anxiously kept asking if each stop were the town where he needed to disembark. It was obviously of great importance that he not miss his stop. Perhaps he was going to town to conclude some matters at the bank, perhaps with a lawyer. There was a purpose and a story to the man’s journey, but I didn’t know it all because I didn’t have all the facts and all the details.
You walked into the sanctuary this morning and saw 56 Easter Lilies on and around the altar. Each lily represents a life or lives of loved ones of those in the congregation. We know the names, we can read them in the bulletin, but we don’t know the life stories, the details of each history behind each lily. Also not evident to the simple gaze of human eyes, is the certain hope of the resurrection that lies behind each of the lilies. Each lily given in memory of those who have died in the Lord is also a confession of the confident certainty of the resurrection to life on the Last Day.
Like the story of the man on the train and the story of these lilies, there is so much more to Easter than what is first apparent. Behind the Easter greetings and the brunches and the big Easter dinners there are the details of Easter, the "full story." The details and full story are a true story of an EASTER RESURRECTION.
The apostle John was a man of detail. God used this as He inspired John to record several books of our New Testament. John was present at the wedding in Cana when Jesus performed His first miracle. John reports that the water pots were filled to the brim and then the water was changed into wine (cf. John 2:7).
John was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of Jesus’ arrest and saw Peter reach for his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. John reports the details that it was the man’s right ear and his name was Malchus.
John stood at the cross with Jesus’ mother and saw the Lord die. He was there when the soldiers came and pierced Jesus' side. Concerning that event John writes, “He who has seen has testified and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe” (John 19:35). John was an eye-witness of Jesus’ life and ministry. He recorded the details with the purpose of testifying to the Savior so that you and I and other sinners might believe and be saved! Before closing his Gospel account, John again writes, “Truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).
Peter likewise assured his readers that what he reported to them was not fiction but an eyewitness account. “We did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).
John, Peter, and all of the apostles testified to what they had seen and heard so that we might believe. These eyewitness accounts, these truths instruct us as to what to believe concerning the resurrection. They are the details of an Easter resurrection and the Easter resurrection casts aside all of the false assumptions and false conclusions that a human mind might make.
The women went to the tomb early in the morning expecting to find a body which they would anoint with the spices and oils they had prepared. They had seen Jesus die. They witnessed His body being laid in the tomb. The TRUTH was, however, there was an Easter Resurrection! Jesus’ body was not there. He was risen!
Mary Magdalene saw that the stone had been rolled away and didn’t even make the rest of the trip to the grave. She assumed that Jesus’ body had been stolen and on the basis of that conclusion went to tell the disciples. The TRUTH was not a stolen body, but a body gloriously raised from the dead!
Peter and John heard Mary’s report and ran to the tomb to investigate the matter for themselves. They believed Mary’s false conclusion, but when they arrived at the tomb they saw evidence completely to the contrary. They saw Jesus’ former grave clothes neatly lying in the tomb and the head wrapping neatly folded and lying separately. The TRUTH was that there had been no grave robbers. It was an Easter Resurrection! Even so, Peter and John did not fully understand what had taken place until later when Jesus appeared to them. As they left the tomb they knew something extraordinary had taken place, but “as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” [v.9] Jesus had told all the disciples several times that He would die and then rise again on the third day. However, not until after Jesus appeared to them alive and the Holy Spirit was poured out on them did they truly and fully understand. Yet, in the Easter Resurrection we find that Jesus’ word did come to pass exactly as He said. His word is TRUTH.
Matthew reports in his Gospel account that the soldiers who were guarding Jesus’ tomb went back to the Jewish leaders and told them all that had happened (cf. Matthew 28:11ff). The soldiers were bribed with a great amount of money to hide the truth and say that Jesus’ body had been stolen. The soldiers and Jesus’ enemies could not change what had taken place with their stories. The truth can not be hidden and will always in the end prevail. The TRUTH is that of an Easter Resurrection!
Later in the evening on Easter Sunday, two disciples were travelling to Emmaus. They were sad because of all that had happened to Jesus. They were confused because now His grave was empty and people reported seeing visions of angels (cf. Luke 24:28ff). Once Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples they were no longer sad nor confused. The TRUTH brought them great joy and comfort.
The eyewitnesses testify that there truly was an Easter Resurrection. Jesus is indeed alive! This certain truth leads to our confidence. For as Paul told the Corinthians “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17). If Christ is not alive, if there was no Easter Resurrection, then there is no purpose in being here to worship, there is no forgiveness and we have nothing to anticipate except a miserable life here and eternal damnation in hell! “BUT now Christ IS risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). The living Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection and you are the following fruits. Through Jesus your sins are forgiven and you too have the certain promise of resurrection from death to never ending life with Your Savior. Jesus said, “ I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25).
You live now spiritually through Christ and will rise from the dead to live eternally through Him. It’s as sure as His promise and the Easter Resurrection. Amen.
—Pastor Wayne C. Eichstadt
Text: John 20:11-18
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him." Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "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, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’" Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
In Christ Jesus, whose resurrection always gives us reason to hope, dear fellow redeemed:
We have heard already this morning how the false assumptions of Mary Magdalene and the two disciples, Peter and John, gave way to faith in the hearts of Peter and John in view of the compelling evidence they found in Jesus’ empty tomb! Jesus’ resurrection is in fact and indeed the cornerstone of our Christian faith. We base our faith upon and believe in a living Savior—the very Son of God, who sits even now at God’s right hand exercising all power for His Father’s glory and our ultimate benefit. In this, our second address, we pick up John’s Easter Gospel account with Mary Magdalene, who had returned to the tomb that Easter morning shortly after Peter and John had departed and returned to Jerusalem.
Mary stood outside of the tomb, overcome by uncontrollable grief. Thinking of the sins committed against her beloved Master, she could do nothing other than weep. After taking His life, how could they stoop so low as to have taken His body? Her heart ached, and she wanted only to find His body and take it to a safe and secure place, where she with love could bury it anew. As she stood outside the tomb, she stooped down and looked inside. Inside she saw two angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where Jesus lay. In her grief, Mary apparently did not perceive who these messengers were, or their significance. When they inquired, “Woman, why are you weeping,” she could voice nothing apart from her frustration and grief. “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him” she blindly cried. It was at that moment that she sensed someone behind her and turned to see Jesus. However, once again blinded by her own grief and tears, she failed to recognize Him. He asked her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, thinking Him the gardener, cried out, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus, with compassion, replied simply with her name, “Mary,” and thereby instantly changed her uncontrollable grief into irrepressible joy! Mary cried out, “Rabboni,” which means "Teacher," and apparently fell to her knees grasping Him in joy. At that point Jesus lovingly reminded her that their close and personal relationship would soon be changed. "Stop clinging to Me," He said, for He would be ascending to His Father and her Father—to His God and hers. It was now her appointed task to speak to the other disciples announcing His resurrection and confessing the joyous truth that He was the living Christ—the Savior of the world!
My dear friends, when Mary thought Jesus was dead, she was overcome by uncontrollable grief, but when she was confronted by the fact of the resurrection and the presence of her living Savior, her grief was changed to irrepressible joy! Are our eyes blinded to the fact of the resurrection at times when we are confronted by the sins of this world? Do we grief uncontrollably at times as if we have no Savior, or as if we believe Him to be dead and gone, rather than living and reigning at God’s right hand? Satan would certainly like to blind our eyes to that fact, for he would have us despair of Jesus’ help and our heavenly Father’s blessing. Yet, dear friends, listen to your Savior. While we have not seen Him as Mary did, we have here in the Scriptures the true account of Mary and the other disciples who saw Jesus, who heard Jesus, and who have recorded Jesus’ words and promises for us.
The evidence of the resurrection is overwhelming. The promises of our Savior are so very encouraging. He is with us (cf. Matthew 28:20). He is watching over us (cf. John 10:28). He will provide us with the wisdom and strength we need to accomplish that which He has called us to do (cf. James 1:5; Philippians 4:13). He is preparing a place for us and will come again to deliver us to Himself in heaven (cf. John 14:2-3). We need never fear, for our living Savior has not and never will abandon us. He has overcome Satan, sin, and death for us (cf. 1 John 3:8; 1 John 1:7; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57). In view of these truths, our proper Easter response, then, is "Hallelujah, and "Amen!“
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting