Scripture alone, Faith alone, Grace alone.

Sermon Easter Sunday 2017

  1. Easter Sunday.17 “Power to Take It Again” John 10:17-18

Let me tell you about something kind of cool that happened to your life. You remember your life, right? Good, in some respects, but sadly, messed up in so many others? That sin thing that manifests itself in so many embarrassing and downright unpleasant ways—the hurt caused others, your own sorrows, sickness, and death. Oh, yeah. That life. You remember now. Well… God Himself came down and took on that old life of yours in Jesus His only Begotten Son! And look where it got Him! Nailed up on a cross in the end, as we discussed last Friday. It wasn’t pretty at all, and looked like a bleak ending to a promising Story…

But Jesus told us of this Power that He has, that He got from God His Father: the power to lay down that old life of yours, messed up on so many levels by sin, death, and hell. And He laid it down, alright! Betrayed, delivered into the hands of sinful men, corrupt high priests, Roman governors on the make, brutal soldiers who beat Him, crowned Him with thorns, crucified Him, while we looked the other way; because, quite frankly, some of the stuff He said cut a little too close to the bone and bothered us. Stuff about dying to live, finding life only in His death, stuff like that. But our hate and skittishness about divine things, he took that too, part of the package deal. And when Jesus lays something down, He does it up!

Yes, Jesus’ way of laying down your old life was getting lifted up on a Cross to die(!) horribly and painfully—forsaken not just by men, but by His heavenly Father who treated Him like sin personified for six brutal hours. Mocked by everyone, abandoned by friends/Father, with only one thief showing any respect, begging Jesus to remember him when He comes into His Kingdom. But he was desperate, so I don’t know how to count that…

When Jesus is dead, run through with a spear (to make sure!) two of His friends (who weren’t especially close) got some courage, Joseph and Nicodemus, and they took His Body down and laid it down for good, they thought, in Joseph’s nice, garden tomb which was conveniently located about 30 yards from Golgotha. This is how you always suspected your life might end, right? Horrible, painful, dark. And so it did. The life, that is, that Jesus took on, took away from you. It ends, laid down, in a stone cold tomb…

But then, something pretty cool happened, on the morning of the third day, very early, just as dawn was breaking. Jesus (as He’d promised!) took it up again, that old life of yours, the one that was just killing you. With a crack of thunder, the descent of angels, a flash of light, He took it up again. And it has never been the same since, really, never will be again. Would you like to hear some more about how it’s changed, this old life of yours…?

Well, first and best: that sin thing (and the death and hell thingies that come with it)? Done! Forgiven! Finished! Death has been swallowed up in this Life of Jesus which turns out to be so much bigger than we’d imagined. So much greater and grander, too. At first, even your friends won’t recognize you. They might think you’re a gardener or something like that. But, pretty soon, they mistake you for someone famous, like Jesus, which is cool…

And it doesn’t only work on you. It works on everyone! Even those we love who’ve died. Don’t be fooled by what you see lying in the casket. Because Jesus has laid down that old life that was killing them, and raised them up again new. This is the Story you’ve always hoped might be true, secretly yearned might be true, and, in Jesus, it is true. It really happened. This is no idle tale, no ghost story, no spiritual or philosophical ideal. Nope. It’s the true Story of your lousy, no-good, messed-up life, taken up by Jesus, laid down in a tomb, taken up again, early one April Sunday morning, 30 AD, Jerusalem. This is the re-make of all re-makes—the Ultimate Reality Show!

It’s a lot to take in. I wish I could tell you more about it. But even His friends didn’t recognize Him and their new/old life that morning when He rose up, took it up again. They thought He was a gardener (just like you!) or a clueless stranger, lost on the Road to Emmaus. They thought He was a ghost. Till they saw the holes in His hands and feet, and He ate some fish and honeycomb. And walked through a wall and out of sight.

  1. Maybe it’s easier to tell you what it’s not, this new/old life Jesus has taken up and re-done for you. It’s not sad. It’s not liable to death or suffering. It’s not dull. It’s exactly what, in your heart, you’ve always been hoping for. Because Jesus put that hope in there before you were born. You were made for this new/old life Jesus laid down and took up again…

It is life lived off the Greatest Power in the Universe. It’s the face to face seeing of God that even Moses could not describe, seeing as he did only the back of Him, for an instant. It is the Beatific Vision the saints see, and it changes you, like them, into the very Image of what you behold!

And now’s the part where I tell you the catch, right? That you have to learn all these catechism questions, quit smoking, quit lots of fun stuff, make embarrassing public professions of faith in front of strangers, right? Nope. You’ve been misinformed about that, my friend. There is no catch, see? The non-rejection of the Story is all that’s needed; you don’t have to do something with it to activate it, or go around telling the Story to everyone to make it work. This Story tells you, works all on its own; as C.S. Lewis said: it is “the good infection” like a divine virus that gives us a serious case of eternal life and joy.

When Jesus rose Easter Sunday, He pulled all of us up with Him, out of death and hell and into the Divine Life of the Holy Trinity, so that you can hardly tell where your life ends and His begins. The Power by which He died and rose is now as much yours as His(!)—real power sharing! And the best part is simply hearing the Story now, being washed by His Baptism, fed with His own Body and Blood, IT happens to you, as it happened to Jesus. If this sounds like magic, well, I will confess; it does seem magical! But wouldn’t Divine Power look magical to creatures like us? And wouldn’t it take something Divine and Supernatural to fix all that is wrong with us and our old lives? Because, well… magic, right?

So, yeah, pretty cool—what’s been happening to your Life, as Jesus has tinkered with it, laid it down, taken it up again? Pretty great Story, huh? Well, it’s the only One that is completely true, totally real, and utterly enchanting. And it ends like this: Christ is Risen. And so are you. Amen.

Services

Ascension Sunday (observed)
7th Sunday Easter
28 May 2017

8:30 and 11:00 a.m. Divine Service with Communion

9:45 a.m.
Sunday School
Ages 3 - High School

Adult Bible Classes

Location

Our Savior Lutheran Church is a confessional Lutheran church in Raleigh, North Carolina, belonging to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

We are located at: 1500 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27608.

For directions, use 742 Nash Street, Raleigh.