Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sermon - Easter 2014

The Resurrection of Our Lord
Easter Sunday, 2014
Matthew 28:1-10

Christ is Risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

What a difference 3 days can make. Not even three days, by our modern way of reckoning. Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. Not even a whole weekend. But that's all the rest in the tomb Christ would take, before rising to life again at Sunday's break of dawn. What a difference between Friday and Sunday.

On Friday, there women mourned him, but on Sunday they were first to hear the good news.

On Friday, two thieves flanked our Lord in his dying breaths. On Sunday, two angels at the tomb appeared to announce he is alive!

On both Friday and Sunday were earthquakes – but for very different reasons. Friday's earthquake was part of creation's groaning at the death of the creator. Sunday's earthquake accompanied the stone rolling away, no heavy earth or stone could keep this grave sealed.

On Friday, soldiers had their way – even dividing up his garments as he died. Sunday – it was soldiers who were as dead men, and Christ who was alive. He left his grave clothes behind, by the way...

On Friday, nails pierced his feet and fastened him to the cross. On Sunday, the joyful women fell at those feet and worshipped.

On Friday, they went away beating their breasts. On Sunday, they departed quickly with fear and great joy.

On Friday it seemed like the end. On Sunday it was a whole new beginning.

And yet Friday and Sunday go together. You can't have one without the other.

Without the victory of Easter joy, without the triumph over death and grave, without the vindication of Christ in all things – Good Friday would not be so good. Sunday shows that Jesus' word is true, even when he talks crazy about coming back from the dead. So too when he speaks of your resurrection, dear Christian. Sunday shows that God the Father accepts his Son's sacrifice, indeed, it is the “well done, good and faithful servant” seal of approval on all that Jesus did for us. God's wrath is satisfied, by Christ, for you and me. And Sunday gives us a taste and glimmer of what our own resurrection will be. A glorious day when all the dead in Christ rise, bodily, and see him face to face – in my own flesh, with my own eyeballs – to paraphrase Job.

And without Good Friday, what does Easter mean? Bunnies and Chicks? Candy and chocolate? Brunch with the family? Sadly many have reduced Easter to this, perhaps because they get to Sunday without regarding Friday. Christ's resurrection makes no sense apart from his death – where he atoned for all sin. But the dark tunnel of death he passed through on Friday makes the bright morn of Sunday all the more radiant.

For us, many days feel like that Friday. Not the “thank God it's Friday, the weekend is here”, but “The sun just got dark and the earth beneath me is shaking. Judgment is hovering over me and death is breathing down my neck.” Fear rules the day, and sadness and suffering mark its passing. Many days end with what seems like little hope. We cause so many of our own griefs, but we are also subject to the brokenness of creation. Life's toils and troubles heap onto our guilt and shame. It's enough to make anyone cry out, “My God, have you forsaken me?”

But Easter reminds us that in Christ, Friday is tied to Sunday. Suffering will be vindicated. Death is not the end. Even on the darkest of days, there is still hope for us. We may not see it until we, too, pass through the grave. But faith believes it at his word, and rests secure. And you can trust a guy who rises from the dead and calls his shot ahead of time. You know he's got your future in his hands, too. And that's the best place for your future to be.

For the Christian, every day is a Sunday. Every day is a day in which Christ lives. Every day is a day in which he's still got his crushing foot stomped down on the serpent's head. Every day is a rebirth and renewal, a return to our baptism where we were not only buried with Christ but raised with him. Every day we live in the new life that is already ours. Every day is a Sunday, a new creation.

Christian theologians have made an interesting point about Sunday – you know it was the first day of creation. God started, not on a Monday, but on a Sunday with “let there be light”. And then he rested on Saturday, the real last day of the week. So Christ rests in the tomb on Saturday, and at break of dawn on Sunday, the one who created light and is the Light of the World, returns to bring life and light to all men. It's a pretty powerful connection.

And others have gone on to say, that in a way, Easter Sunday is the “8th day of creation”. That is, on Easter, the renewal of creation in Christ is revealed – brought forth first in his own person. And we now live in the time of transition between that 8th day of creation and eternity. Or to put it another way, Easter is the Sunday that never ends.

However you look at it, give thanks to God for the blessings of this Holy Sunday. May your faith be strengthened in the knowledge that he who paid your price on Friday, rested in your grave on Saturday, also Rises for your resurrection on Sunday.
Alleluia. [Christ Jesus] abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Alleluia.

No comments: