Sermon Date: April 16, 2017
Sermon By: Pastor Dale Raether
Scripture: Luke 24:1-8
Repent: Turn to Jesus for Resurrection and Life!
Is that also our attitude toward death? “It is what it is.” It’s easy to have that attitude. When we’re young, we can’t visualize death actually coming to us. Death comes to old people, and old age is a long ways off for us. Then suddenly the years fly by, and before we know it, we’re at an age we once regarded as old. So, maybe we tell ourselves, “It is what it is.” But then what happens, we start loosing some of our friends to accidents, or cancer, or they’re killed in the line of duty. Do we still keep saying, “It is what it is?” Maybe not, maybe instead we start thinking more seriously about our life, and what it’s like to die, and what’s going to like on the other side.
So, how do we come up with our conclusions? We could sit by the ocean and philosophy, but how much certainty would that give us? Or, we could go on the internet and or take a college course and everything all the great religious leaders and philosophers have ever said, but how do they know anymore than we do? They don’t! They’re just people like us! So, is the only thing certain about death is that it’s certain? God’s Word this morning calls us to turn from all such thinking, and to turn to Jesus for resurrection and life. 1. It’s certain that He died. 2. It’s certain that He lives. 3. It’s certain that because of Him we shall live too.
It’s Certain that Jesus Had Died
Our text reads. On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. – Luke 24:1 Jesus had in fact died. The Roman soldiers made sure of that. They had been ordered to break Jesus’ legs to hasten His death on the cross. But they didn’t do it. When they came to Him, He was already dead. But just to have proof of that in case anyone asked, a soldier ran a spear up under Jesus’ rib cage through His chest. Out gushed blood and water. The blood obviously came from His heart being pierced. The water was probably the fluid in His lungs that would come from breathing shallow, as He hung there from 9 to 3. Shortly after this, the Roman governor, Pilate, did ask the soldiers to certify that Jesus had died. They did. Then Pilate released His body for burial to Joseph of Aramathea and to Nicodemus, who had been a secret disciple of Jesus.
The burial custom then was the body would be washed, wrapped lengthways from head to toe, and then wrapped around while sprinkling myrrh in between each wrap. They would then lay the body on a slab in a hollowed out cave, big enough for the body, a place to sit for a moment to grieve, and a place to stack up boxes of bones. You see, they would roll a stone in front of the entrance. After the body had completely decayed, the family would roll back the stone, go inside the tomb, and put the bones in a box, so the slab would be ready for the next person.
It’s Certain that Jesus Lives
On Good Friday, Joseph and Nicodemus got Jesus’ body too late to do much more than wrap it once. The Sabbath started at 6, which meant all work had to stop. The plan, then, was that the women, who were with Jesus at the cross, would go back Sunday morning and finish washing and wrapping His body.
At this point there were two things the women didn’t know. They knew Pilate had placed Roman soldiers at Jesus tomb on Friday night to make sure the disciples didn’t steal Jesus’ body, hide it, and then tell everyone He had risen. The other thing they didn’t know was that Jesus had already risen, and that an angel had rolled away the stone to show this. Meanwhile the soldiers had run back to Jerusalem to tell the Jewish leaders what happened. Incidentally later on they would take a bribe to say they had fallen asleep while on guard duty. And it must have been a huge bribe, because falling asleep while on guard duty was punishable by death. On the other hand the soldiers trusted the leaders would make sure they were never arrested or have to go to trial, because the last thing the leaders would want was the soldiers using Jesus’ resurrection as their defense.
But what proof is there that any of this happened? How do we know that the disciples didn’t make every bit of this up? Well, if a gang of 12 crooks concocted a lie, how long would all 12 be able to keep their story straight? Not very! Or, how many of the crooks would keep it all straight if the authorities started torturing them to confess? Probably no one! The disciples never changed their story in 40 years, even though every one of them was tortured and, with the exception of John, every one of them was gruesomely murdered, rather than deny that Jesus lives.
So, how much more do we need to be just as certain Jesus lives as the disciples were? According to our sinful natures, a lot more. But this is why in every appearance of an angel, and in every appearance of Jesus Himself, they always pointed back to God’s Word. God’s Word is our power to believe. Not our eyes. Not our human reason. By God’s powerful word He created the Heavens and the earth. By that same Word, He raised Jesus from death. By that same Word God also gives us spiritual life to believe this. In order to be certain, then, that Jesus lives, keep turning to God Word. Keep reading it; keep hearing it! Paul writes in Romans, “Faith comes through hearing the message (and the message is Christ’s death and resurrection for you), and the message is heard through the Word of Christ – Romans 10:17, which is the Bible, both Old and New Testament.
It’s Certain that Through Christ We Shall Live Too.
But how exactly does the powerful Word of Christ give us faith to believe? First it convicts us. It stirs up our consciences that the standard God demands of us to enter heaven is perfect love, and perfect trust, and perfect purity from all sin, whether in our thoughts, words, or actions. I don’t know about you, but I can’t read the Commandments or think about what they mean, without feeling convicted. The Word also warns me what the wages for my sins is, and yours too. It’s death, which is why death is even more certain than taxes are.
But the Word also comforts us. It says for example: He was delivered over to for our sins, and raised to life for our justification. – Romans 4:25 Christ was handed over to be crucified, because God made Him guilty of our sins, so He would die in our place. Then, God raised Christ to life, because His death paid for our sins, and since death couldn’t hold Jesus, the sin bearer, death certainly can’t hold anyone else either. On the last Day, everyone, who has ever lived in the whole history of the world, will be raised. And then those, who trusted in what Jesus did for them, will live with Him forever; and those who had rejected Him, and so continued in their rebellion and sin will live with the devil.
But now just for a moment I like to read some resurrection passages. As I do, don’t try to intellectualize them. Just let God’s Word speak to you. God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. – Acts 2:24 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. – Acts 2:32 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. – Acts 3:15 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways. – Acts 3:26 But God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. – Acts 10:40 God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. – Acts 13:34 God tells us literally 100s of times in the Bible that Jesus lives. Our Savior from sin physically lives! And because He lives, all of us will be raised up too, unless He returns before then, in which case our bodies will simply be changed glorified in blink of an eye.
Until that day, what’s the meaning of our life here? It’s not simply to enjoy the best of everything. The Bible also makes it very clear that wealth is just as uncertain as our time here. No, our purpose, whether we’re rich or poor, is to reflect God’s love, so that through us many more may come to know and believe that Jesus lives. Also, even when our life here is hard, like it was for the disciples, God is still working in our difficulties, so that through us even more people may be led to Jesus.
And then when our work here is finished here, we need not be afraid. Yes, we’ll be separated from our loved ones in the Lord, but not for very long. We will see each other again. We will recognize each other only maybe without our grey hair and wrinkles. And we’ll eat together, and we’ll laugh together, and we’ll do things we can’t imagine now together. And it will never end. You’ve heard the phrase, “All good things must end.” Not this! God’s Word promises that there will never be any sin on the new earth in the new heavens He will create, and so neither will ever be any sadness, sickness and death that sin causes. Is this sounding too good to be true? Well, Jesus lives!
But what if He doesn’t? What if His bones are still in a bone box somewhere in Israel? Paul put it this way: If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. – I Corinthians 15:14 If Christ is not risen, nothing the Bible says is true. It’s just more useless philosophy. But now Christ is risen, and so not only is He the cause of our own resurrection; He is the giver of life that’s truly worth living. And so, there’s joy in being at peace with God. There’s joy in doing the things God gives us to do. There’s joy in knowing He has good reasons for the hard things He allows. There’s also joy in how He’s blessing our work and promises that these blessings last into eternity. And finally there’s joy in knowing that His love for us never ends, and that our relationship with Him need never end.
I don’t intend to inject doubt with that last line. But the fact is we do often have doubts, and the more we pursue an empty way of life, the more doubts we’ll have, until a person completely separates himself from God. For this reason until the last trumpet sounds, may our Lord Jesus keep us in a certain Easter faith! Daily turn from emptiness! Turn to Jesus for resurrection and life, because it’s certain He died for us. It’s certain that He rose. And it’s certain that through Him we too shall live. Amen.
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