Friday, April 10, 2009

Sermon for The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day Divine Service

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

St. Mark 16:1-8

He Has Risen; He Is Not Here

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day Divine Service, 12 April 2009

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming


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

            They didn’t remain afraid. And they didn’t remain silent. You know that these faithful women later told the news to Jesus’ disciples that very day—that first Easter Sunday. “He has risen; He is not here.” The resurrection of our Lord confesses an empty tomb, just like the angel tells the women.

            Craig Parton (The Defense Never Rests, p. 89) writes, “The issue of the missing body is one of great force. The empty tomb itself has been sufficient on its own merits to bring skeptics to Christian faith. For example, attorney Frank Morrison converted to Christianity on the sole basis of his investigation of the factual case for the resurrection. Morrison’s argument is that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then there are only three interest groups who might have had a motivation to remove the body: the Romans, the Jewish religious leaders, and the disciples. The Romans craved peace and order so that they might extract taxes from the Jews. The last thing they wanted was controversy. Morrison notes that the Jews had every motivation to preserve their religious influence and control, while the disciples would hardly steal the body and then go out and die for what they knew was a lie.”

            “He has risen; He is not here.” Because Jesus wasn’t in the tomb that Sunday morning, He can be here, for you, this Sunday morning.

            Jesus is here. Jesus is to here to deliver to you what He won for you on Good Friday.

            Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went to Jesus’ tomb. They were together. They were dedicated to their Lord, even though they didn’t seem to remember Jesus’ teaching about what He knew would happen to Him. Our faith in Christ isn’t always strong either. Without Him, without His Word, without His gifts in His Supper, our faith can wither and die. But Jesus is here. Jesus gathers His Christians to Himself together around His Word, His Baptism, His Absolution, and His Table. Jesus is here to strengthen your faith. He has promised to be present where two or three are gathered in His Name.

            The women went to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. The Resurrected Jesus turns the tables. He anoints you with the oil of faith in Holy Baptism. The Baptized are taught all that Jesus has given to us in His Word. Disciples are made by both baptizing and teaching. The two belong together. And faith holds on to Jesus for dear life and eternal life.

            The women were alarmed by the presence of the angel and the lack of Jesus’ body. We are often alarmed at what we face in life. Health problems. Financial insecurity. Wars and rumors of wars, terrorism and rumors of terrorism. Weather. Family problems. Work and all of its concerns. Your Lord Jesus has not abandoned you, although His people often abandon Him. Jesus is here. He will never leave you nor forsake you. He has promised to be with you even to the end of the age. He has provided you a pastor and fellow Christians to lean upon in your time of need and you to them in their time of need.

            Jesus is here to clothe you with a white robe of His righteousness. In Absolution we return to Baptism, for “absolution” is a word that has to do with water. We confess that we are poor, miserable sinners, saying the same thing about ourselves that God reveals in His Word. And He washes all our sins away. You are made white in the blood of the Lamb. This is only possible because Jesus was there on the cross Good Friday. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Because Jesus wasn’t there in the tomb Easter morning, you know that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus is here this Easter morning to forgive.

            All that work. All that walking. All those spices. And then the question: “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” By the time they got there, the stone has already been rolled away. There is no need to anoint a living body with burial spices. Jesus’ resurrection may have deprived Salome and the Marys of this work, but the angel gives them another: “…go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” Because of that simple message, the world has heard of Jesus Christ. Jesus has more in store for you. He will roll the stone away from your tomb on the Last Day. You will rise like He did because He has placed His Body and His Blood in your mouth for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is here today to feed you with forgiveness so that you will be steadfast in the true faith, in both body and soul, until life everlasting.

            We are no longer silent. We are no longer afraid. We are in the Word. We live in peace. We tell the good news about Jesus. We care for one another. We remain faithful. And we sing!

            (HS 828:6, sung!) Christ has arisen; He sets us free. Alleluia, to Him praises be. Jesus is living! Let us all sing; He reigns triumphant, heavenly king. Let us sing praise to Him with endless joy. Death’s fearful sting He has come to destroy. Our sin forgiving, alleluia! Jesus is living, alleluia! Amen.


The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.


            1When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. 5And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6And 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. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8And 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.