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Easter Dawn

by pastorjuhl ~ March 20th, 2008

Text is St. John 20:1-18

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

With gladness of heart, let us greet each other with the time-honored Christian Easter greeting:

Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed, alleluia!)

Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed, alleluia!)

Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed, alleluia!)

It takes a special breed to be a morning person. Not every one can get up before the crack of dawn and feel like they have six hours of activity under their belt. Most of us need a cup, or several cups, of coffee, or some other caffeinated beverage to jump start the day.

Saint Peter was a mo(u)rning person. Please spell it with a “u”. He’s up early and running to the tomb because Mary Magdalene has a strange report. The stone is rolled away from Jesus’ tomb. John is running with Peter and gets there first. But Peter goes into the tomb first. It’s a good thing he did.

Peter promised he would stand by our Lord’s side to the end. He didn’t. We all know he denied knowing our Lord three times, just as Jesus told him he would. The last time we heard about Peter, he was running away and weeping bitterly. He did the impossible. He lied about Jesus when he should have told the truth. Instead of preparing to pay the consequences for his allegiance to the teachings and person of Jesus of Nazareth, Peter wimps out, takes what he sees is the easy way out, and sins boldly.

You take the easy way out every day. Opportunities abound to proclaim your allegiance to Jesus. You won’t seize the day and speak up. You’d rather act embarrassed about the whole situation and hope your neighbor doesn’t notice that you are a Christian.

Churches today are packed of full and part-time Christians. Easter is one of those “can’t miss” holidays where everyone puts on their finest, gets up before dawn, and runs to church to hear the familiar account of an empty tomb, a weeping woman, and a case of mistaken identity. The sorrow of Friday turns to joy today.

But when you walk out those doors, it will be business as usual. You won’t remember why Jesus rises from dead, let alone dies for your sins. Easter is just another Sunday among other Sundays of the year. There’s too much sorrow and sadness in your life for the Resurrection to matter. Knowing that your Redeemer lives gives comfort, but it doesn’t pay the mortgage. Hearts waking with gladness to see what the Savior has done won’t fix a broken marriage. Good Christian friends rejoicing and singing will go on fighting and not speaking to each other once they leave this building.

All of us are mo(u)rning persons, or should be. Jesus Christ gives up His life so you may not die. Jesus rests in the tomb on the Passover Sabbath so you may rest in His Word and Sacrament every Lord’s Day. Beloved, count the cost of the Resurrection and what might have been had not our Savior been born according to the flesh. Today would be just another Sunday. Tomorrow would leave us all, according to the old song, “another day older/ and deeper in debt”.

Today Jesus removes the “u”. Today Jesus makes us morning persons. Spell it now without the “u”. Sorrow is gone with the night. Morning has broken. So has the seal on our Lord’s tomb. So has the power of sin, death, and hell. Satan cannot stand the sight of the sun rising over Jerusalem, as well as Momence. He knows it’s another day closer to the ultimate sentence of residence in the lake of fire.

Today Jesus Christ ensures you who trust in Him as your Redeemer will miss the lake of fire. Today death is a thing of the past. Jesus is alive. So are you. You still don’t believe it? Listen again to a stanza of the Chief Hymn:

Now hell, its prince, the devil,
Of all their pow’r are shorn;
Now I am safe from evil,
And sin I laugh to scorn.
Grim death with all its might
Cannot my soul affright;
It is a pow’rless form,
Howe’er it rave and storm

Whoever thought of laughing at sin! But you do today because sin no longer reigns in your mortal body. You are baptized into Christ. You are washed clean from the stain of sin. No matter how old you are, you are still wet behind the ears with baptismal water. Saint Paul proclaims: if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You’re probably thinking that’s nice, but you weren’t an eyewitness to the resurrection as Peter, John, and Mary Magdalene were. You are an eyewitness to the resurrection because your eyes witness His preaching, His baptism, His absolution, and His Supper. More than your eyes witness, your tongues witness too when you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs that rejoice in the gift of eternity.

What can death do to you now that our Lord has conquered it? Death is nothing. Life is everything. Satan is nothing. Jesus is everything. Sin is nothing. Grace is everything. Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

Rejoice, beloved. Today Jesus makes you are a morning person. Because He lives, you also shall live and reign with Him to all eternity. This is most certainly true!

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

Hymns: LSB 487, 459 (Sequence), 467, 475, 478, 488

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