Sermon for April 9, 2023, The Resurrection of Our Lord

Matthew 28:1-10 (The Resurrection of Our Lord—Series A)

“The Risen Jesus is the Crucified Jesus”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

April 9, 2023

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our text this morning is the Easter Gospel recorded in Matthew 28:

1Now after the Sabbath, at the dawning of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2And behold, a large earthquake happened, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and approached and rolled away the stone and began to sit upon it. 3(Now his appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white like snow. 4And because the fear of him, the guards were shaken and became like dead men.) 5But the angel answered and said to the women, “You—stop being afraid, for I know that you are seeking Jesus, who was and is crucified. 6He is not here, for He was raised just as He said. Come, see the place where He used to lie. 7And go quickly and say to His disciples, ‘He was raised from the dead, and behold, He will go ahead of you into Galilee; there you will see Him.’ Behold, I have said this to you.” 8And they departed quickly from the tomb, and with fear and great joy, they ran to announce this to His disciples. 9And behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Greetings!” And after approaching, they grabbed His feet and worshiped Him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Stop being afraid. Get going, announce to my brothers that they should depart into Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Christ is Risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

This is the confession of the one, holy, Christian and apostolic Church on the morning of this Easter day, the first day of the week, just as it is every Sunday when the people of God in Christ come together around His Word and Sacrament as they remember that it was on a Sunday when the Lord Jesus Christ rose from death. The apostle Paul’s reference in 1 Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper” implies that the early Christians had already begun to honor the day of the Lord’s resurrection as the new holy day that replaced the Old Testament Sabbath.

          And so it is today, that God has invited us through His Word and Spirit to come together on the first day of the week and to hear His Word of Law and Gospel, to receive the forgiveness of sins through that Gospel Word, and to eat and drink the true Body and Blood of Christ received under the forms of bread and wine for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. God speaks through His Word; He gives His gifts through Word and Sacrament, and we, the people of God in Christ respond with our songs and prayers and thanksgivings. That’s the rhythm of the Divine Service; our Lord speaks and we listen. “His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts received with eager thankfulness and praise. Music is drawn into this thankfulness and praise, enlarging and elevating the adoration of our gracious giver God.”[1]

          None of God’s gifts of forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation from sin, death, and hell would be given to us if Jesus were not the risen Lord and Savior. If God the Father had not acquitted His Son who became sin for us on the cross (2 Cor 5:21), He would have remained under the punishment and condemnation of death for the sins He had taken upon Himself. But Jesus Christ was vindicated, acquitted, cleared of all charges that He had assumed when He took our sins and guilt upon Himself in His once-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world. The message of the first day of the week is that Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

          But Easter Day and the Resurrection of our Lord is never disconnected from Good Friday and His sacrificial death on the tree of the cross for the sins of the world. Because of our fallen, sinful nature and because we have sinned against God’s Word in thought, desire, speaking, and doing, we—like all people—stood condemned under God’s just and right decree of punishment, which is death and hell. The Lord Himself said through the prophet Ezekiel, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:20 ESV). This is no different than the very familiar words of St. Paul in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” Had not God warned Adam and Eve of this from the beginning? “And [Yahweh] God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Gen. 2:16–17 ESV). And it was not the fruit of the tree that would bring death. It was the disobedience to God’s commandment—the sin—that would bring about the consequence and the punishment of death.

          While the perfect justice and holiness of God demands the death of sinners, His grace and mercy desires that they be saved from their sins and from eternal death. Again from Ezekiel, “As I live, declares the Lord [Yahweh], I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek. 33:11 ESV). And St. Paul in his second letter to Timothy writes by the power of the Holy Spirit that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4 ESV).

          And so God loved the world this way, that He sent His One-of-a-Kind Son to take upon human flesh by the power of the Holy Spirit and be born of the Virgin Mary in order that He might suffer and die in the place of sinners and rise again on the third day. The death of Jesus Christ for the sins of the world and the resurrection of Jesus Christ in triumph over the power of sin and death cannot be disconnected. The Risen Jesus is the Crucified Jesus.

          In Matthew’s Easter account, we have the two Marys going “to see the tomb.” We know from Mark and Luke that they were bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ body since it was so hastily laid in the tomb on Friday before the high Sabbath of Passover was observed. And as on Friday when there was an earthquake when Jesus died, now on Sunday morning, at the dawning of the first day of the week, there was a “large earthquake” caused by the Lord’s angel who came down from heaven, approached Jesus’ tomb, rolled away the stone, and sat on it. This was to show the women that Jesus had already risen from the dead and left the sealed tomb. No large stone could stand in the way of the risen and glorified Lord of heaven and earth, Jesus Christ, who had already exited the grave!

          But it’s not the two earthquakes that connect Good Friday and Easter, although the shaking certainly helps us link those two days. I want us to pay close attention to what the Lord’s angel, His messenger, actually said to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary: “You—stop being afraid, for I know that you are seeking Jesus, who was and is crucified. He is not here, for He was raised just as He said. Come, see the place where He used to lie.” Did you catch it? Do you see the connection between Easter and Good Friday? The angel tells the woman that Jesus not only was crucified, the action that happened on Good Friday when He was nailed to the cross, but that Jesus is even now the One who is crucified. Jesus is the One who died on the cross and He is the One who is risen from the dead. Jesus is the Crucified and the Risen One. Jesus is true God and true Man who was nailed to the cross, whose side was pierced and from which blood and water flowed. Jesus is the God-Man who gave up His life into death having paid for all sins with His own holy, precious blood. And so Jesus remains even to this Easter Day in 2023 the Crucified One as well as the Risen One.

          When Jesus appeared to the disciples in the locked upper room later on the first Easter day, what was it that Jesus showed them? His hands and His side! The hands and feet of Jesus still bore the marks of the nails, the side of Jesus the scar of the piercing. In fact, the apostle John would see Jesus pictorially represented as a lamb, indeed, as John the Baptist had first pointed out Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Listen to how the apostle described the vision in Revelation 5, “I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6 ESV). The Lamb is truly alive and standing there. But the Lamb also bears the marks of the cross. The Lamb, Jesus, had indeed been slain and now lives and reigns to all eternity. The Risen Jesus is the Crucified Jesus. As I heard it said once, you know you’ve got the correct Jesus, the right Jesus, when you see the marks of the nails in His hands and feet. For Jesus is the One who died for you, who has paid for your sins and sinfulness in full, and who purchased with His bloody death your forgiveness and eternal life. And this Jesus lives. Make no mistake. His grave is empty. He is risen, indeed! But He lives and reigns as the Crucified Savior who receives our worship and thanks and praise because He gives to us the forgiveness of all our sins and everlasting life that includes our own bodily resurrection at the Last Day.

          I want you to notice one other thing from our Gospel reading this morning that struck me. When Jesus meets the women, what do they do? “They grabbed His feet and worshiped Him.” Jesus, God’s Son, Immanuel, God in the flesh, who is the Crucified Lord and the Risen Savior is worshiped. He’s really, truly alive because they can grab His feet! He has the same body as before He died. And I am certain, that as they took hold of Jesus’ feet in that act of worship, they saw the marks of the nails. And they knew that they had before them the right Jesus, true God and true Man, who died and who is risen.

          Therefore, let it be known to everyone that in this place, it is the Crucified and Risen Jesus whom we worship and adore in spirit and truth. Let it be known that it is the Crucified and Risen Jesus who grants us forgiveness of sins through His Word of Absolution. Let it be known that it is the Crucified and Risen Jesus who feeds us here with His crucified and risen Body and Blood with the bread and wine in His Holy Supper which gives to us the great gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. And finally, let it be known that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. For the Crucified Jesus is the Risen Jesus! Alleluia! Amen.

     [1] Norman Nagel, Lutheran Worship, “Introduction” (St. Louis: Concordia, 1982), 6.

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