Easter April 9, 2023
1 Corinthians 15:1-28
191, 188, 193, 200
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
Sermon Audio: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/ministrybymail
+ Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! +
Prayer of the Day: O God, for our redemption You gave Your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross and by His glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of the enemy. Grant that all our sin may be drowned through daily repentance and that day by day we may arise to live before You in righteousness and purity forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (ESV)
It can’t be done! If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings. Perform a life-saving operation on a baby before it is born? How could that ever happen? Can’t be done! Carry a portable device small enough to fit in a pocket that connects you to every corner of the planet and billions of other people? That’ll never happen. Can’t be done!
The answer to those doubts is often, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” It’s a testimony to the amazing reasoning and problem-solving abilities God has given human beings that things which once seemed beyond the realm of possibility have in fact become realities. Every day millions fly on commercial airlines without giving it a second thought. People are orbiting the earth in the international space station. Medical advances provide treatments for conditions that once were beyond hope. Smart phones and self-driving cars were unimaginable not that long ago.
But despite all the achievements for which humankind prides itself, some things haven’t changed. Sickness, crime, sorrow, and death are all still part of our world and undeniable evidence of sin…No amount of money, social programs, or technological improvements can change that. Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything…a time to be born and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) No one beats death, the wages of sin. Can’t be done!
Good Friday seemed to underscore that. Jesus, who performed so many miracles, even raising the dead, died Himself, and not just any death, but the horrific death of crucifixion. He was beaten, nailed to the cross, mocked and jeered at before commending Himself into His Father’s hands and giving up His life. Overcome death? Can’t be done! Or so thought the women when they got up early Sunday morning to anoint a dead body. The disciples thought it when they kept out of sight wondering what would happen next.
“Where’s there a will, there’s a way” isn’t always the case when it comes to human will. But with God nothing is impossible! When God wills something it happens. The arm of the LORD is never too short to reach into the most hopeless situation. Jesus laid down His life as the sacrifice for sin, just as He said He would. He also promised that He would do what couldn’t be done. He would lay down His life and He would take it up again! He did. He rose! “He is not here, for He is risen!” the angel announced! (Matthew 28:6) For the next 40 days witness after witness confirmed it. He is risen! The angel’s message to the women could be paraphrased for us like this: “He is risen. He is NOW here with you.” Jesus promises, “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age!” (Matthew 28:20 NIV)
Because Jesus has joined us to Himself by faith, what can’t be done has been done for us too, by God’s will. There is nothing we can do to make up for our sins and make things right. But Jesus has reconciled us to God. There is nothing we can do to overcome death, but we are joined to Jesus like branches to the vine. His victory is ours. He promises, “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19) “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26 NKJV) Job confidently said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27).
That is our daily confidence and joy. Easter doesn’t prevent death from coming here on earth, even to believers. It takes your breath away how quickly it can come to anyone anytime. But death doesn’t mean they are lost or cut off from the Lord or from the Holy Christian Church. Jesus overcame death, so Paul wrote, “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14) He will come again and raise His believers and transform their lowly bodies to be like His glorious body!
What can’t be done has been done by our Lord and Savior! “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58) Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Ministry by Mail is a weekly publication of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. Subscription and staff information may be found online at www.clclutheran.org/ministrybymail.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.