Matthew 28:1-10 – The King Raised

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Matthew 28:1–10

1Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”

8So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”Empty Tomb 1

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

P:  He is risen!

C:  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia!

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God created light, the atmosphere, land, seas, and plants. God created the sun, moon, and stars. He created the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, and every animal that moves about on the face of the earth. Last of all on the sixth day, God created man. God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground.

God made Adam king of all creation. God told Adam to have dominion over everything that moves on the earth. God made a queen for Adam, his wife Eve. God placed Adam and Eve in paradise. God told Adam and Eve to have lots of children and fill the earth and subdue it. Adam and Eve began a glorious reign over creation.Adam and Eve

But Satan came. Satan came and the preacher from hell preached to Eve that she should not be content. The devil deceitfully said that Adam and Eve could rise above simply being king and queen of creation. The father of lies told them that, if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they could be like God. Adam didn’t step in and tell Satan to go away. Even though God had graciously warned Adam that the day he ate of that tree he would surely die, Queen Eve ate and gave the fruit to King Adam as well.

They believed the lie and ate the fruit. The legacy of Adam and Eve’s reign is death. Because the king of creation fell into death, all of creation is subject to death. Adam’s legacy is hospitals, funeral homes, tombs, and graves.

They believed the lie of Satan and disbelieved the truth of God’s word. Adam and Eve now lived in terror of the God they had sinned against. God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, and set angels with flaming swords to guard the way to the tree of life.

But before God did that, He made a promise to Adam and Eve. God promised to send a new King. God promised that the Seed of the woman would come and fight against Satan. In that battle Satan would bruise the heel of the King, but the King would conquer and crush the head of Satan.

That very battle took place on Good Friday. Jesus, the holy Son of God who knew no sin, willingly walked among us sinners. He willingly walked through this creation filled with Adam’s legacy of death and fear. Jesus, too, heard Satan preach to Him. However, Jesus knew that the devil’s sermons were full of lies.

Everywhere King Jesus went, He walked all over Satan’s false promises. Jesus stomped on the legacy of Adam. Instead of sickness and death, Jesus brought health and life.

Jesus strolled through this world full of graves and cemeteries taking all the sin and death upon Himself. Even though King Jesus was whipped and beaten, even though He was carrying the load of the sin of the world, Jesus willingly walked to the cross.

There devil hurled every accusation of sin at Jesus, and Christ has answered for all of it. Because of that, Satan has nothing left. The devil has no more strength.

Jesus hung on the tree, and Satan took a bite from that Fruit. Satan saw the fruit of the Son of God hanging on the tree and took a bite. Satan thought he got what he wanted. King Jesus was crucified, dead, and buried. Satan had bruised Christ’s heel.

But in taking that bite, Satan’s head was crushed.

Angel Sitting on the Stone of Christ's Tomb Matthew 28King Jesus has risen, just as He said. Jesus has taken you back. You belong to Him. Jesus has once again opened the way to paradise. There are no more angels with flaming swords guarding the way to life. The angels now simply sit on the futile stone which had guarded a grave that now stands empty. The angel sits there laughing at death and the devil.

Just as the grave cannot hold Jesus, it will not hold you who have died with Jesus in your baptism.

The King is risen, and you are risen with Him. Amen.[1]

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

 

[1] I am thankful for Rev. David Petersen’s and Rev. Ralph Tausz’s homilies on this text as inspiration for this sermon.

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John 12:12-43 – A Strange King Indeed

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John 12:12–43

12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;

behold, your king is coming,

sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him. 17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,

and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

40 “He has blinded their eyes

and hardened their heart,

lest they see with their eyes,

and understand with their heart, and turn,

and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

What would you do if a king were coming to your house? If you’re like me, you’d sin and wish you had a bigger, better house. But you’d quickly realize you can’t afford one and would do everything you could to clean up your place as much and as fast as possible. You would want to present your home in the most hospitable way possible.

What would you do if a thief were coming to your house? You’d probably do everything you could to barricade every possible point of entry. You’d probably make sure that you got all of your valuables in a safe place. And you’d probably situate yourself in front of all your prized possessions so that you could protect them.

Well, there are two ways of looking at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem – one is right and one is wrong. You can look at Jesus’ entry the way the people do – as a king, or you can look at it the way Jesus does – as a strange, thieving King. (You can probably guess who is right.)

Jesus' Triumphal Entry Palm SundayThe people in Jerusalem that Palm Sunday looked at Jesus’ entry as the coming of their King. They did everything they could to spiff the place up for the King who was riding in on a donkey. They cut the palm branches and laid them and their cloaks on the road in homage to this King. They shouted royal praise to Jesus who was coming “in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.”

The crowd did all of this because they had heard that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. A King who can overcome the power of death sounds like a good kind of King to have. If your King could undo death, well then, life will be good.

The people welcoming Him thought Jesus would establish an earthly reign and overthrow their enemies. They thought He would set up a kingdom that would last forever and ever. They thought He would bring a kingdom full of glory. They had visions of “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” Maybe to update that, they had visions of tenderloin on every high-end stainless steel grill and Beamers in every slot of their four-stall garage.

But that is not how Jesus looks at His coming to Jerusalem. Jesus has come to be King, but He has come to be a strange King. He has come to be anointed not with oil, but with His own blood. He has come to be crowned not with gold and jewels, but with thorns. He has come to be enthroned not on a throne of glory, but the throne of a splintered cross. Jesus has come to be a thieving King who steals their sins in His death on the cross.

Jesus hadn’t kept this a secret either. He had repeatedly said that He was going to Jerusalem to be handed over, suffer, and die. Jesus knew that He was coming to His coronation as the suffering, crucified, sin-stealing King.

Even as Phillip and Andrew tell Jesus there are some Greeks who wish to see Him, Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. The hour has come for the grain of wheat to die and fall to the earth. The hour has come for the Son of Man to be lifted up from the earth.” Jesus says these things, and His soul is troubled.

Jesus’ soul is so troubled at the type of King He has come to be that He asks, “What shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour, this kingship’?”

“No,” Jesus says, “for this purpose I have come.”

Jesus will not deny His coronation as the strange King who is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Jesus is the King who bore your sins in His body on the tree (1 Pet. 2:24). Jesus, the King of sorrows, came in order to bear your grief and carry your sorrows; He was a King who came to be pierced for your transgressions and crushed for your iniquities (Is. 52:13-53:12). The Son of God came to humble Himself, to die a sinner’s death, and to suffer the wrath of God. This strange King came to wrap Himself in your sin. The sinless One came to become sin (2 Cor. 5 21). God laid on Christ the iniquity of us all.

Blessings from the CrossOn the cross is Christ’s glory; on the cross, Christ is lifted up. On the cross, your strange King won your freedom from sin and death that separates you from God. On the cross, Jesus pulled off the greatest caper of all time by stealing the sin of the whole world. Because of the cross, your sin is no longer yours. Through this strange King’s death, there is forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Dear friends, this Holy Week let us follow this strange King to His death so that through His death we may be with Him and live eternally in His blessed kingdom (Jn. 12:25-26). Amen.

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

John 11:17-27, 38-53

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John 11:17-27, 38-53—Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”


38
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “LorJesus Raises Lazarusd, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

47So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

How hard was it to confess that you believe in the resurrection of the dead?

Some of you have buried friends. Some of you have buried grandparents, and some parents. Some of you have buried brothers and sisters. Some of you have buried spouses. Some of you have buried children. Maybe in those moments, believing in the resurrection of the dead was more difficult.

Just a few blocks from here is a place called Resurrection Cemetery. When you drive by, all you see is a bunch of headstones sticking out of the ground. It looks like a trophy case for death. How many times have you been in a cemetery and watched a coffin containing the corpse of someone you knew and loved being lowered into the ground? How often has death deceived you into believing that he has the last word?

That is where Martha and Mary were. They had called for their friend Jesus to come because their brother, Lazarus, was sick. But Jesus didn’t come right away. He waited, and He came too late. Lazarus had been in the tomb four days.

Martha and Mary didn’t know that Jesus purposely waited for Lazarus to die. They didn’t know that Jesus allowed death take their brother and to pay a personal visit to them.

Three times in this chapter – first Martha, then Mary, then the whole crowd – says, “If only Jesus had come sooner, Lazarus would not have died.” Martha still holds on to a little hope, “Even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.”

Jesus tells her, “Your brother will rise again.” She responds, “I know that he will rise again on the resurrection on the last day.”

IMG_0492Martha is right, but she isn’t right enough. All the dead will rise on the last day. But Jesus wants to take Martha to a fuller, better understanding of the Resurrection. Standing there before Martha is the Resurrection. The Resurrection isn’t some future event that will come “a week from some Tuesday” (Capon). The Resurrection is flesh and blood Jesus.

Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

Sadly, we are no different than Martha. Our faith is too often incomplete like Martha’s. We separate Jesus from the gifts that He gives. We wrongly think that Jesus gives salvation, forgiveness, and life on some day that is still in the distant future. But we are wrong.

Jesus gives Himself, now. Jesus is salvation, forgiveness, and life. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life then, now, and always. In the pages of the New Testament, Jesus never meets a corpse that He doesn’t raise up right on the spot; Jesus simply has that effect on the dead (Capon).

Jesus doesn’t make you wait for “some day.” Do you see what Jesus says there in v. 26? “Everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” In the strongest language possible, Jesus removes even the possibility and potentiality of death for you who believe in Him.

The Resurrection isn’t something you have to wait for in the future. The Resurrection is the person of Jesus. But because of our sin we are short-sighted, and we miss the present reality of Jesus and what He gives.

Jesus is the Resurrection because He has died and risen again. He is here because you are here gathered around His Word. He here standing victorious on the neck of death, your enemy.

“Since you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1 NIV). He is here giving you salvation, forgiveness, and life. He is here giving Himself to you in bread and wine. Here is salvation. Here is forgiveness. Here is Life.

You who are dead, come and receive so that you may never die. Amen.[1]

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

[1] I am indebted to a blog post by Chad Bird “Clothing for the Naked Eye: Seeing Things as They Really Are” as inspiration for this sermon (http://birdchadlouis.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/clothing-for-the-naked-eye-seeing-things-as-they-really-are/).