The Resurrection of our Lord (Easter): “Just as He Told You.” Amen.

by Rev. Brian J. Thorson
Lessons: Job 19:23-27, 1 Corinthians 15:51-57, Mark 16:1-8
Catechism: The Conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer

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Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed.  Alleluia!

The topic for our midweek Lenten and Holy Week services this year has been on the Lord’s Prayer. We have worked our way through each petition. One part remains: the Conclusion. We learn in the Catechism that as we say Amen, “This means that I should be certain that these petitions are pleasing to our Father in heaven, and are heard by Him; for He Himself has commanded us to pray in this way and has promised to hear us. Amen, amen means ‘yes, yes, it shall be so.’”

When I began this series on the Lord’s Prayer, I did not anticipate how God would work to motivate His people to call out to Him in prayer. God works good in all things, even amid COVID-19. Many have told me how their own prayer lives have improved since they are home more, and they are concerned about what is going on. Concerns over jobs, the economy, contracting the virus, or how these things will impact loved ones has drawn many to the Lord in prayer.

When life seems secure, many take little time in prayer. They figure all things are working well without the Lord’s help, so why pray? God can send pestilence and bring uncertain times to tear us away from our pedestals of worldly security, which are built on a foundation of sinking sand.

Christ is our solid rock, for He has taken away our sin through the shedding of His Blood. He has defeated Satan and even death could not overcome Him. For He lives. He is risen!

This is certain. And certainty is what we are longing for in these troublesome days. For certainty amid all sorts of uncertainties grants us comfort.

We have certainty in the words of Jesus. In fact, Jesus is the Word made flesh. Upon His resurrection, He expounded to the Emmaus disciples in all the Scriptures the things that speak of Him (Luke 24:27). Even before His crucifixion, Jesus said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39).

The Word of God is sure and certain. That can be seen in its harmonious unity, the widespread transmission of the Scriptures in the early Church, the reality that none of it has been disproven, and Christ’s fulfillment of all that was said of Him.

While we may think we have become more enlightened than what God teaches in the Bible, the reality is that man’s enlightenment is never sure and certain. One day we’re told to avoid butter and eggs. The next we’re told they’re ok. A few years ago, people figured gas would never go below $3 and now we’re half that. A few months ago, advisors would have said that nothing can slow our hot economy. This all demonstrates that, despite our amazing advancement in technology, there’s little that we know, especially the future.

But God knows all things. After Adam and Eve sinned and brought God’s perfect creation into sin, God promised a Savior. He knew when He would send Jesus and how He would save us from our sin. In the fullness of time, God sent His only-begotten Son to save us. Fulfilling His Father’s plan, Jesus rode into Jerusalem to serve as the sacrificial Lamb—the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. By shedding His innocent Blood and dying in our place, our sins are atoned for and we can escape eternal condemnation. In fact, eternal life is given to us. These truths are recorded in the Bible for us and for our salvation. There is certainty in God and His Word.

There’s also certainty in the work of Jesus. He healed the sick, drove out demons, and made the lame walk and the blind see. He even raised Lazarus from the dead—a man who had been dead for four days! Several times Jesus told His disciples that He is going to Jerusalem where He will be handed over to His enemies and die. And He also announced that He will rise from the dead on the third day. He said, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will rebuild it,” referring to His Body.

And recall the announcement of the angel when the women went to the tomb early that first Easter morning. The angel said, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you” (Mark 16:6-7).

“Just as He told you.” It is exactly as Jesus said. His Word is sure and certain. He fulfilled what seemed impossible. He bore the world’s sin in His body, committed no sin, did everything the Father required of Him, endured the punishment of the cross, defeated Satan, swallowed up death in victory, rose triumphantly from the grave, and lives to speak of it. Simply remarkable! That is our Savior! That is what Jesus has done for us and for our salvation! Just as He said.

This means that we can be certain in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Had Jesus failed to keep the Law, He could not offer the perfect sacrifice for our sin. Had Jesus given in to just one of the many temptations He faced, Jesus would have had to render satisfaction for Himself and could not render satisfaction for the sin of the world. Had Jesus turned against His Father and refused to go to the cross, our sins would not be atoned for and we would have no hope of everlasting life.

But since Jesus made the perfect payment for our sin on the cross, He was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father. His resurrection means that forgiveness has truly been earned for our sin and that we, too, shall live.

Reading death tolls from the coronavirus, reading obituaries (especially of younger people who die from accidents), and remembering loved ones who have died reminds us of our mortality. Death seems so final. We can’t bring them back to speak to them. We can’t watch them grow or advance in experience or wisdom. Death is painful; it is not natural. God did not intend death for His perfect creation.

But since Jesus is risen, He has turned death up-side down. That is, He now uses death to bring us to Himself in Heaven. So while we cannot bring our loved ones back to us, we can go where they are.

Despite being uncertain of what each day brings or how long people will live, we have certainty in what Jesus has done. With the forgiveness of sins, we have the promise of the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. We cannot come before the presence of the Almighty God when we are stained by sin. But the Blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sin. By the grace of God, we are covered with the very righteousness of Christ. With these blessings, we are then given the promise of everlasting life. For we can, having our sins taken away, now come before the presence of God. When we breathe our last, our souls will join the saints in Heaven. And when Jesus returns, He will raise our bodies from the grave so that they will be imperishable, immortal, and glorious. We will see God face to face and we will be reunited with all our loved ones who die in the faith.

This is as sure and certain as Christ’s own resurrection.

When we think about our past and the many wrongs we have done, we sometimes wonder if God truly loves us or will really forgive us. Let such doubts vanish! For Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! He loves you and paid for all your sin.

You can have certainty and confidence that everlasting life is granted to you. To use the words of the angel speaking to the women, it is “just as He told you.”

You can have certainty in our Lord’s resurrection. This is not a cunningly devised fable. Our Lord’s tomb was secured so that no one could enter back in and stage His resurrection. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses to His resurrection. His tomb is empty. He is risen!

This also means can have certainty in the means of grace—means by which God works faith in you. Baptism truly joins you to Christ’s death and resurrection. God saves you through the waters of Holy Baptism. The Absolution declared by your pastor is “as valid and certain, even in Heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.” Jesus left no room for doubt when He declared “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood” when instituting the Lord’s Supper.

And finally, you can have certainty in that God hears your prayers and answers them according to His good and gracious will.

If Jesus can bear your sin in His Body, fulfill the Law perfectly in your place, take your sin away through the shedding of His innocent Blood on the cross, rise from the dead, be seated at the right hand of the Father, and work faith in you through the Word and Sacraments, then God can certainly hear your prayers. We are taught to pray Amen in the Lord’s Prayer so that we can be certain that our prayers are heard by our Father and are pleasing to Him. We can be certain that He, who has taught us to pray, will hear our prayers and answer them. “Amen, amen means ‘yes, yes, it shall be so.’” Let there be no doubt about it. God hears you and delights in the time you take in prayer.

So during this time of uncertainty, pray. And be certain that God has a plan in all things, He will get us through this, and He will grant us everlasting life. For Christ is risen! The victory is won! This shall be our confidence! And this is most certainly true.

Jesus lives! The victory is won! Hallelujah! Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting.  Amen