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Easter Day – Mark 16:1-8

by pastorjuhl ~ April 3rd, 2012

Adapted from the 1905 outline for Easter Day previously posted.

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!)

            Jesus said to His enemies, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it. He also told them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. They would not believe Him. Even His disciples questioned whether Jesus told the truth. But what a difference three days makes! God has today prepared for His enemies a horrible, but for Christ’s disciples a blessed, surprise. The Easter surprise is the stone rolled away from the tomb. What a sermon that preaches without saying a word!

The women rush to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. A stone of sorrowful grief falls on their hearts as they hurry to the tomb: Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb? A stone of sorrowful grief also falls on our hearts as we wonder who will roll the stone away from our hearts in order that we might gain access to the beloved body of Jesus. What a sad situation for them and for us.

But what a pleasant surprise awaits the women: the stone is rolled away from the tomb! Who dares tamper with the sealed stone? For what reason was this done? Did God do it so the women might gain access to the body? No. God rolled the stone away in order to show an empty grave.

The women came to the tomb with mixed emotions. The grave was open. There sat a young man in a wonderful garment. It wasn’t Jesus. It wasn’t one of the guardians put there by Pontius Pilate. It was someone with a heavenly form. Behold a second Easter surprise! But where is Jesus’ body? This is the third Easter surprise. The angel said to the women: 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. Instead of a dead Jesus behind the stone, a living Jesus allows them to enter the empty grave and hear the angel’s message. Jesus has taken life from the fangs of death! The angel continues: 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. The women shall now proclaim, especially to Peter, that the stone is rolled away from the tomb and from their, our, and all sinners’ hearts.

There was a stone in our hearts that would not let us come to the living God. It stood as an insurmountable mountain between God and us. This stone wanted to crush us in eternal separation from God. The prophet Isaiah writes, your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. This stone is sin. This stone is fear and dread of God’s wrath and judgment, death and hell. This stone will not let us come to God, to salvation, and to heaven. Who will roll away the stone, for we cannot do it?

God alone can do it and has done it. The Lord threw all our sin on His Son, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Jesus was punished for our sins. The wall of separation lay on His back as He laments, My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me? Our sins pushed Him to death and the grave. The stone is rolled away from us and lies on Jesus.

The Crucified Christ is today the Resurrected Christ. He no longer has the form of One slain for sin. He has the form of a living, justified Man. The stone is rolled away. Our guarantor is no longer in there. God has let Him out. Our debt is paid. The punishment for sin is atoned. Our proxy is free. All the stones that lay heavy on our hearts and consciences are indeed rolled away into the depths of the sea. The rolled away stone before Jesus’ grave proclaims to us this blessed, divine surprise: God is reconciled to the whole sinful world through Christ. He is handed over for our sins and awakened again for our justification.

Rejoice, fellow sinners and fellow redeemed! The stone is rolled away! The stone is rolled away from sin, from the fear of death, and from wrath and judgment. The stone now stands in front of the gate to hell. Access to God is open to us through Christ. Righteousness, life, and salvation laugh toward us from the open grave. What an Easter surprise given to us by God Himself. The stone is rolled away!

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

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