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The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day – Mark 16:1-8

by pastorjuhl ~ April 7th, 2009

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!)

Have you ever noticed what’s missing in Mark’s account of Christ’s resurrection? The women come to the tomb early in the morning ready to anoint His Body. When they get there, the stone is rolled away and a young man meets them inside with the news that changed the world: He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. The trembling women run out of the tomb and say nothing to anyone.

Jesus is missing! Everything is there except the Body of the Lord. Where’s Jesus? That may be the question the women are thinking as they run. The angel said He is in Galilee, just as He said before He died. But why is Jesus not nearby like He is in the other three Gospel accounts of the resurrection?

Scholars have debated this question for many years. Some scholars claim Mark’s Gospel originally ended at verse eight and the remaining verses were added later to combat the false teaching that Christ did not rise bodily from the dead. Even if that was the case, the sudden ending of Mark’s Gospel makes the same point that Matthew, Luke, and John make. Jesus is no longer dead. Because Jesus is no longer dead, those who believe and are baptized into Christ don’t have to worry about death.

Nevertheless, we fret our final day. None of us has experienced anything that compares to the mass resurrection that will take place on Judgment Day. All we know about the resurrection of the body is what Holy Scripture tells us and what we learned in confirmation instruction. We hear the familiar Scripture verses at a funeral and committal: 1 Corinthians 15 (the resurrection chapter), Job 19 (“I know that my Redeemer lives), 1 Thessalonians 4 (perhaps the best chapter in the Bible outside of Revelation that describes the final judgment), John 14 (“I AM the Resurrection and the Life), and Revelation 7 (“These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation”). Still we wonder whether these things will happen.

The women wondered the same thing. As we prayed in the Introit, two angels told the women remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, “The Son of Man must…be crucified, and the third day rise again.” The women running from the tomb had the pleasure of telling the Eleven what the angels said. Even Jesus’ closest confidants didn’t believe it at first. By the end of Luke chapter 24, after Cleopas and his traveling companion tell their Emmaus road account, all the information they received that first Resurrection day comes together to proclaim the joy of Jesus’ Resurrection.

Our joy comes with a price: the blood of Jesus Christ. Two days ago, we heard Jesus taking a spear to His side after His death. From Jesus’ side flowed blood and water. The Holy Spirit testifies that Christ’s blood and water are the marks of our rescue from eternal death into eternal life. The blood of Jesus Christ, more perfect than the blood of bulls and goats slain on Jewish altars, covers us and declares us “not guilty” of sin. The water from the side of Jesus Christ washes our sin away and unites us with our Lord’s suffering and death. Saint Paul reminds us in Romans chapter six: For 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.

Because we are baptized into Christ, we will die only once. After that death, our bodies lie asleep, longing to be united with our soul, so we may live as a new creation. We are a new creation now through faith in Jesus Christ. We will be a new creation in full when the creating Word of Jesus Christ calls our body and soul back together to live forever with the Lord.

Because we are baptized into Christ, we feast on His True Body and Blood in His Supper. Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us says today’s Epistle. Blessed Martin Luther’s Easter hymn “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands” paints a brilliant word picture of Jesus fulfilling the Passover feast in His death and resurrection:

Then let us feast this Easter Day

On Christ, the bread of heaven;

The Word of grace has purged away

The old and evil leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed;

He is our meat and drink indeed;

Faith lives upon no other!

The last three lines of the last stanza describe how we live as Christians in the tension of being a new creation now and waiting to live as a new creation in the life of the world to come. We look to Christ alone to feed us; faith does not live by bread, milk, and meat of this world. Faith lives upon Christ; the Christ Who died for our sins and rose from the dead so we may rise from the dead and live for all eternity. Luther’s Easter hymn says it best: faith lives upon no other.

Again this joyful Eastertide, 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!)

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

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