The Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord: Christ is Risen!

Lessons: Psalm 41:8-13, Isaiah 25:6-9, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Mark 16:1-8
Hymns: LSB 457, 488, 459, 458, 480, 461, 467, 464

Listen to the entire service here (the sermon alone is above).

      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!

      If we need to rank the most important and significant days in the Church Year, Easter tops the list. Christmas and Good Friday are close to it. This measurement is not in terms of attendance or joyousness, but in terms of what the days of the Church Year mean for us Christians and for our salvation. Easter is the most joyous, for we are singing of the victory that Christ Jesus has over sin, death, and Satan. Our sin is taken away! Death has lost its sting! Satan has no power over us because he has no power over our Savior.

      This is why we sing so boldly not only on this day but every time we gather. We aren’t singing as if we are performing, for Church is no show. This is no act and you’re on no stage. Instead, we sing because God tells us to do so, He gave us our voices, and He is the victor over death and the grave. God invites you to participate in singing His praises and participate in the victory celebration.

      When the Chiefs won, there was much joy and celebration. Fireworks were launched. People were shouting in joy. A huge crowd gathered in downtown KC. There was much excitement.

      But that’s become old news. People are already looking forward to the next season.

      In contrast to this, the resurrection of our Lord cannot be viewed as a past event that’s old news and bears little bearing on our lives in the here and now. We don’t look forward to a new season to see what records could be broken or what new stars will arise.

      You see, what Christ Jesus did for us through His death and resurrection is of far greater importance and has much greater implications than what a sports team can do. The significance of our Lord’s resurrection is so great that we consider every Sunday as a little Easter. St. Paul described Christ’s death and resurrection “as of first importance” (1 Cor. 15:3).

      The Lutheran Church is known as the singing Church. The psalms of the Old Testament were written to be sung. The Old Testament tradition of singing continued well into the early Christian Church. Prior to the Reformation, singing was reserved for male choirs and the clergy. But Martin Luther understood how important it is for the Gospel to be in the ears and hearts and minds and mouths of the people. So, 500 years ago, in 1524, Luther helped publish the first Lutheran hymnal. Also 500 years ago last year, he introduced the German Communion service, which was also sung by the people not in Latin but in the language of the people. Instead of sitting and watching as if the Divine Service is merely something for the spectator, the ancient practice of having all of God’s people participate in the service was recovered. That’s why when we gather, we do not view singing as a nice extra for just the talented. It is for each one of you. As you sing, you proclaim the Gospel. Your life depends on the Gospel.

      My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, do not let Satan rejoice by letting him catch you with your eyes wandering and your lips closed when it is time for you to proclaim the Gospel through song. If you are a half a measure off key, so be it. Again, you are not performing. Your lips are proclaiming the unchanging truth of God that has never lost its significance or its value. It is the Gospel, that Christ was slain because of our sin and now He has been raised from the dead through the glory of the Father (Rom. 6:4).

      Throughout Lent this year, we have recalled an ancient hymn—a psalm—written by King David as he was inspired by God the Holy Spirit. In Psalm 41, which we sang a portion of it as our Introit, David wrote what Jesus would later say as He underwent His Passion. You see, in Old Testament times, they sang of what Christ would do to take away the sins of the world—from His incarnation to His crucifixion to His resurrection. The Bible’s prayerbook is also the Bible’s songbook. The psalter continues to be sung by Christians.

      The foes of Christ thought they had the upper hand as they were sentencing Jesus to death after Judas had betrayed Him. Their thinking is not much different than what we see today. Don’t like something? Throw it away. Annoyed with an animal? Kill it. Sick of life? End it. Somehow in our twisted way of thinking, we figure death solves just about anything.

      The chief priests and elders of the people didn’t like Jesus. They took offense at His teachings. They hated the fact that He healed people on the Sabbath Day. They couldn’t copy His miracles.

      So, what can they do? Kill Him!

      They had a problem, though. Too many people actually liked Jesus. He raised Lazarus from the dead. He helped people. He taught the truth. Yet, their resolve was firm. Crucify Him. That way His name would perish forever. They did not think He could rise, as they said in our Introit.

      But Jesus wanted to repay His enemies. Not with their hatred, but with His love. He wanted to be lifted up on the cross so that He could take away the sin of the world and grant sinners peace with God. He wanted to serve as the sacrificial Lamb to shed His innocent Blood as the ransom payment for the world’s sin. He wanted to justify the world by suffering the wrath of God as He bore the world’s sin in His Body.

      When Jesus was dying on the cross, there was darkness over the land for three hours. When He died, there was an earthquake, and the Temple curtain tore into two. The centurion rightly observed that Jesus truly is the Son of God (Mark 15:39).

      In Psalm 41:11-13, Jesus prayed to God our Father, saying, “By this I know that You are well pleased with me, Because my enemy does not triumph over me. As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,

And set me before Your face forever. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.” What is Jesus saying here? That the enemies of Christ do not triumph. God the Father is well-pleased with the offering Jesus presents—His innocent Blood as the payment for the sin of the world. His integrity—His honesty—His truthfulness—His innocence is upheld. Therefore, Jesus will not remain dead in the grave, but He will be raised up. He will be set before our Father’s face forever. Jesus will live and be seated at the right hand of the Father!

      That reality is what we celebrate today with great joy, even as it happened almost 2,000 years ago and was spoken of by King David some 3,000 years ago! This news never gets old. It is so good.

      Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

      And He grants you the victory. Because He lives, He promises that all who abide in Him will also live. All Christians will receive the gift of eternal life. All Christians will have their sins completely cancelled out and they will be counted righteous in Christ. All Christians will be raised up on the Last Day when Jesus returns and recreates the Heavens and the Earth. All Christians will live with Him forever. That is your promise and that is your gift. All because Jesus is the victor and through Him you are reconciled to God.

      I appreciate all who are here today. I’m truly glad you came. God is glad to see you here. You recognize Easter as an important day. You would think that on this day our offerings would be through the roof. After all, many Christians who only come a few times a year or less tend to be present today. Those who have not been present in a long time have a long way to catch up in their offerings to the Lord so that they are not caught robbing God (Malachi 3:8).

      Across the country, Christians are regularly shocked to see a church close that they know and love. They wonder how it happened. But they weren’t present Sunday after Sunday to support the Church through their attendance and voices. They didn’t give sacrificially as God expects. They just expected it to always stay open because it had always been there, relying on the generosity of others. Driving around Lexington reveals many former church buildings, many of which simply closed due to lack of people and funds. Of course, there is a season for all things, and it is up to God to decide if a church will continue or not. But as He threatened the Israelites with destruction if they are not faithful, so also God can withdraw from a certain place if the people are ungrateful or unrepentant or unwilling to participate in the life of the Church. So, prove me wrong. Let’s finish this service with the boldest singing I have ever heard within these walls. Make this day the day you are going to give sacrificially. Make it an above average Sunday in terms of our offerings. If you make $40,000 a year, what stops you from giving $4,000 of it to the Lord? It doesn’t stop me.

      Money does not buy salvation, nor does hanging on to money provide security or buying lots of stuff bring about happiness. The salvation we have is granted to us for free. While we were yet sinners, Christ Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8). He took our sins away before we even committed them. And He blesses us with His forgiveness as a completely free gift. How can we not but want to generously return thanks to Him through our frequent attendance, faithful stewardship, and bold singing?

      After all, Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

      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