Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Easter

"Jesus is Risen! The victory is won!"

Mark 16:1-8

April 16, 2017

Have you ever wondered why there wasn't more celebration on Easter? Where were the bands and cheering crowds on the day of resurrection? Ah, yes, that was last week on Palm Sunday. The crowds from last week have dwindled to a handful of women making their way in the early morning light to a tomb outside the city walls.

Mark 16:1-8. When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?" And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back-- it was very large.

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, "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. 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." And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Usually victory parades are held after the fact. Last week we saw the victory parade. Today we see a few women leaving the city only to return quickly. They had wanted to finish the task of Friday. Frankly, they probably didn't trust that the men had completely and properly prepared Jesus' body for burial.

As they hurried in the early dawning light, they wondered who would roll away the stone. Obviously, they were unaware that a guard had been posted at the tomb. Not that it mattered. By the time they arrived, the guards had fled in fright. The stone was rolled away and there was no body.

When they saw the stone was already pushed aside, they wondered, "What is this?" Their amazement turned to alarm fearing the worse that the tomb was open. On entering, they encountered a young man who made an even more startling announcement, "You're looking for Jesus. He's not here. He's arisen. Go tell His disciples." This is beyond the realm of ordinary human experience. Can you blame them for running away as quickly as they'd come? Can you understand their bewilderment and fear? Is it any surprise they were trembling? How would you have reacted?

They made their report to the disciples. Mary Magdalene would bring the news of her encounter with the risen Jesus. Of course, the men didn't believe them. They were ready to chalk it up as the hysteria of women. However, it seems Peter and John were curious enough to check out the report. When they found the tomb empty and the grave wrappings undisturbed, they believed.

Later in the day, the two on the road to Emmaus talked about the news. They wondered what to believe. As they walked along deep in discussion, Jesus joined them. He would answer all of their questions and later reveal Himself to them in the breaking of the bread.

The eyewitness accounts challenge us today. Do we believe the report of the women? What do you make of the report of the resurrection? People want to believe in something. Of course, many today prefer to believe in reincarnation instead of the resurrection. It seems more glamorous for them to think that we can keep reliving life as different people than live but one life and then receive your body back in the resurrection.

Questions about life and death make us want to believe in something. Your skepticism puts you in good company. The women were afraid. The body was gone. A stranger was telling them Jesus was arisen. Their experience told them "no, this isn't possible." The initial reaction of all Jesus' disciples is unbelief. Why should we be different? In the end, all we have the testimony of those who saw, touched and heard the resurrected Jesus. Is it enough? Faith says that it is.

We believe all kinds of facts called history. Even if we didn't witness these things for ourselves, it doesn't mean they didn't happen. The resurrection is the most important event of human history. We can believe it as surely as we believe the events recorded in history books. Jesus Christ is arisen. That's good news. We need to hear this good news over and over again.

Jesus is arisen. Because our Lord rose again, we now have hope that death cannot hold us either. We will share in his resurrection. We will not die but live. At funerals we stare death in the face. It frightens us. In our despair we may ask, "is this all there is to life?" The answer is "NO!" Still, we are told there is more. Faith clings to the promises of God.

We have been promised that we will not die but live. We are promised that we will see one another again in the resurrection. At our death we will enter the presence of God. There, with all the faithful who gone before us, we will await the resurrection. On the Last Day we will be reunited with our bodies to live forever in Paradise. This is our celebration today. Because death couldn't hold Jesus, it cannot hold us either.

As Christians we anticipate the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting with Jesus. We wonder about heaven. Sometimes our doubt cannot grasp the reality of the promises of God. In times of doubt, we cry to the Lord, "I believe, help me to overcome my unbelief." The Lord will help you through your doubts just as He helped the disciples overcome theirs that very first Easter.

Jesus lives! The victory is won! We've had the parade. We've heard the Good News. Today we celebrate the resurrection. Tomorrow, life goes on. Yet, we can now live as people of hope and faith for Jesus is arisen. His victory over the power of sin and death is now ours as well. That is Good News.


September
09/24/2017
09/17/2017
09/10/2017
09/03/2017
August
08/27/2017
08/20/2017
08/13/2017
08/06/2017
July
07/30/2017
07/23/2017
07/16/2017
07/09/2017
June
06/25/2017
06/18/2017
06/11/2017
06/04/2017
May
05/21/2017
05/14/2017
05/07/2017
April
04/23/2017
04/16/2017
04/09/2017
04/02/2017
March
03/26/2017
03/19/2017
03/12/2017
03/05/2017
February
02/26/2017
02/05/2017
January
01/29/2017
01/22/2017
01/15/2017
01/08/2017
01/01/2017

December
12/25/2016
12/18/2016
12/11/2016
12/04/2016
November
11/27/2016
11/20/2016
11/13/2016
11/06/2016
October
10/30/2016
10/23/2016
10/16/2016
10/09/2016
10/02/2016
September
09/25/2016
09/18/2016
09/11/2016
09/04/2016
August
08/28/2016
08/21/2016
July
07/31/2016
07/24/2016
07/17/2016
07/03/2016
June
06/26/2016
06/19/2016
06/05/2016
May
05/29/2016
05/22/2016
05/15/2016
05/08/2016
05/01/2016
April
04/17/2016
04/10/2016
04/03/2016
March
03/27/2016
03/20/2016
03/13/2016
03/06/2016
February
02/28/2016
02/21/2016
02/17/2016
02/14/2016
02/07/2016
January
01/31/2016
01/24/2016
01/03/2016
01/01/2016

December
12/27/2015
12/20/2015
12/13/2015
12/06/2015
November
11/22/2015
11/15/2015
11/08/2015
11/01/2015
October
10/25/2015
10/18/2015
10/11/2015
10/04/2015
September
09/27/2015
09/20/2015
09/13/2015
09/06/2015
August
08/30/2015
08/23/2015
08/16/2015
08/09/2015
08/02/2015
July
07/26/2015
07/19/2015
07/12/2015
07/05/2015
June
06/28/2015
06/21/2015
06/14/2015
06/07/2015
May
05/31/2015
05/24/2015
05/17/2015
05/10/2015
April
04/19/2015
04/12/2015
04/12/2015
04/05/2015
March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
03/15/2015
03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
02/15/2015
02/08/2015
02/01/2015
January
01/25/2015
01/25/2015
01/18/2015
01/11/2015
01/04/2015

December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
12/14/2014
12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
11/16/2014
11/09/2014
11/02/2014
October
10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
08/10/2014
08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
06/15/2014
06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014