Easter March 31, 2013
Romans 1:4, 4:25; John 2:19-22
1 Corinthians 15:1-20, 51-58
189, 198, 201, 200
Jesus Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Romans 1:4
Christ was delivered for our offenses and was raised again because of our justification. Romans 4:25
Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them;and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. John 2:19-22
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Risen Redeemer!
“Get real!” That’s what the lady said to me! “Get real!” But there I was, standing right in front of her, as “real” as could be! Of course, what she wanted was for me to quit joking and tell her the truth—the way it really was.
There is a time and place for clowning around, sharing dreams, and using symbols. Science has a special need for theories, psychology deals with dreams. Sometimes when the reality is too much for a person to handle, he blocks it from his mind. He seeks joy and happiness by escaping from the reality.
But we are here today to “get real” about Easter because we know that all true and lasting joy begins with Resurrection Day reality.
To celebrate Resurrection Day reality, we must beware of mere symbols and vague theories about Easter. For instance, a Jewish scholar has said that both the Jewish Passover and the Christian’s Easter have their origin in the ancient observance of spring—the celebration of new life and frolicking newborn lambs! To this we say: “Bah-ah!”
What about the Easter egg? It is supposed to symbolize new life. But we need to be careful that this symbol of spring’s new life does not take away from the reality of Resurrection Day. The new life from an egg really is an illustration of the on-going process of life which the Creator has built into His world. But all that you have learned from Holy Scripture about our celebration today speaks of a restoration of life to the dead—the resurrection from the sealed tomb of Him who was crucified, dead, and buried.
The Christian’s celebration of Easter is not some vague celebration of the new life of spring. That new life will become old life and perish next winter. Our Easter is the celebration of the reality that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, never to die again! On the basis of this reality of His resurrection are built the following RESURRECTION DAY REALITIES.
At our Lord’s baptism and again on the Mount of Transfiguration, God the Father spoke from Heaven saying: “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). The Father was pleased with His Son’s holiness. Often Jesus challenged His enemies to convict Him of even one sin. They never could convict Him because He never sinned.
Yet, as Jesus hung on the cursed tree, His enemies thought for sure that He was a sinful man, a criminal, and not the Holy Son of God. They said: “He trusted in God; let Him (God) deliver Him now, if He will have Him, for He said ‘I am the Son of God’” (Matthew 27:43).
Sin gives death its power to claim and hold its victims. If Jesus were truly a sinner, then He would have been as weak and powerless against death’s decay as all men were before Him. But the reality of His resurrection from the dead has revealed our Lord’s holiness. Christ’s resurrection fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 16:10: “You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”
For this reason, the Apostle Paul opens his letter to the Roman Christians with the cheering words of our text: “Jesus Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). The reality of Christ’s resurrection has declared Him to be the Son of God with power—power even over death and Hell! Why? Because He entered death “according to the spirit of holiness rather than the “spirit of sin” with which all others enter death. This holiness of our Savior was the reality on which death choked so that the tomb could not hold Him!
Now, if Christ’s resurrection declares the reality of His holiness before God, then what does His resurrection say about our own real standing before God? Paul says in Romans 4:25: “Christ was delivered for our offenses and was raised again because of our justification.” What could be more plain? Isaiah writes: “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Paul writes, “He has made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us,” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Peter said, “Christ also once suffered for sins, the Righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18).
If Christ has been delivered to death as payment for our debt of sins and offenses against God, then we must be righteous in God’s sight in spite of our sins! Christ has already paid the full price to redeem the entire world from sin!
And this, my fellow sinners, is the second glorious reality proven by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Literally, our Romans text says: “Christ was delivered on account of our offenses and was raised on account of our having been declared righteous.” No wonder Jesus promises: “Because I live, you shall live also!” (John 14:19). In the reality of Christ’s resurrection, God wants all the world to see the reality of our own justification—our own right standing before God, namely, that we have been declared righteous, without sin, and pure before our holy God!
What glorious hope there is for poor sinners like us! What life is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures! Could all this good news we have read in Scripture really be true?
We need to be very careful in reading the books of human authors since they may not speak the truth, or they could deceive us with half-truths. Where, on the other hand, is the solid proof that the Scriptures are true and the wonderful teachings and promises of Christ may be trusted?
Earlier in His ministry Jesus had spoken of the “temple” of His body. He said to the Jews: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). These words were confusing to Jesus disciples when they heard them. But “when Jesus had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them” (John 2:22). Now that they had really seen Jesus alive after His resurrection, one might think that the Scriptures would be of little use to them. We also might be tempted to say, “If only I could see the resurrected Christ with my own eyes.” In moments of great temptation we could almost say with doubting Thomas: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).
But look at the astounding testimony at the end of our text from John 2:22. We are told that after the disciples had seen Jesus, “they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.” In the hearts and minds of the disciples, the resurrection of Jesus established the reality that the whole Old and New Testament Scriptures are true! John has recorded this last line of our text so that we who did not see the resurrected Christ may know that by faith in the Scriptures we too shall be saved!
When your sins seem so great and the lying Devil tells you that you are lost and God wants nothing to do with you, you can send him packing with the true and real Scripture. For example, Paul writes in Romans 8:34: “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore who is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.”
When you are afraid because of your smallness and insignificance in all the world, when you think that surely God has forgotten you and your prayers, the Scripture is real and true which says: “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7), and “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
When you tremble in the face of death, the Scripture is real and true which says: “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19).
These are the blessed realities of the Resurrection Day. Now, “let’s get real” about Easter! Let’s apply the reality of Easter to our every-day lives. May these Resurrection Day Realities be the firm ground of our hope each day, the light of life from Heaven which chases away all darkness, and the joy which moves us to serve Christ “in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity” (Small Catechism, 2nd Article), for this is most certainly REAL! Amen.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.