Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter Sunday Sermon: "Just the Facts"

+ The Resurrection of Our Lord – March 27th, 2016 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series C: Isaiah 65:17-25; 1 Corinthians 15:19-26; Luke 24:1-12

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Whether you’re buying a car, sitting on a jury, or reading something on the internet, you don’t want opinions, conjecture, or editorials. As the great theologians of Dragnet once said, “All we want is the facts. Just the facts, ma’am.”

We should expect the same on Easter Sunday. After all, Jesus death and resurrection for you is a matter of fact – the tomb is empty. Jesus died. Jesus rose, just as he said he would. These events really happened in history. And these facts are also the foundation of our Christian faith. Jesus was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification.

Your faith in Christ is founded on the fact that Jesus suffered, died, and rose for you.

And yet it should come as no surprise that these facts are contested or treated as opinions, fantasies, or worse yet, lies.

Perhaps you’ve heard it said, “Faith is a fairy-tale, like the Easter bunny or leprechauns.” Or, “Jesus was a good teacher or moral guide, but his resurrection is just some legend cooked up by the disciples to get rich and famous.” And then there’s the internet; it’s full of blogs and videos claiming Christianity is just a reboot of the old Egyptian, Greek, or Roman myths, second in popularity only to cat videos perhaps.

Now, all of that would be true…if Jesus did not rise from the dead and his tomb was not empty.

For if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then our preaching is in vain and so is your faith. If Jesus did not rise, then Christianity is no better than a pint glass full of foam and no beer.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead then the New Testament is a lie, the apostles are frauds, and every Christian preacher for the last two thousand years - including this one – are nothing but big fat liars. More than that, if Jesus did not rise from the dead we are misrepresenting God; we’re all a bunch of fakes, phonies, and crooks.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then our faith is futile and we’re all wasting our time here this morning. We should all enjoy the Easter breakfast and go home or go the beach. Eat, drink, and be merry.

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then all his promises to forgive our sins are also worthless, and we’re still in our sin. No grace. No mercy. No hope. Nothing.

As St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians…If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we of all people, are most to be pitied.

And then in three little words, Paul drops a fact bomb on all our opinions, conjectures, and baseless assertions.

But in fact...
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

This fact is the ground of our faith – on Easter, and every other day of the year. The Christian faith isn’t founded on fairy tales, opinions, or ancient legends, but fact. Unlike any other religion in the world, Christianity is based on a particular set of facts: Jesus who is true God and true man was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried on a Friday afternoon and rose again from the dead three days later.

And because Jesus rose again: Death is dead. Death has lost its sting. The last enemy has been destroyed. And sin has lost its hold over you. Victory has been won. Rejoice! Christ is risen from the grave and in him you will rise too. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. Jesus dies and you live. Jesus lives and you will never die.

Jesus did all of this for you, and that’s a fact. It’s true… if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity and our faith crumbles.

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. Your faith in Christ is founded on the fact that Jesus suffered, died, and rose for you.

On Easter Sunday, all we need are the facts. And here they are:

But in fact…Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried. He was raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures.

But in fact…The tomb was empty. The burial linens were folded and neat. The guards were bribed to say the disciples had stolen the body.

But in fact…Jesus was seen by Mary Magdalene, by Peter and the other disciples, by Thomas who confessed “My Lord and my God,” by two disciples on the Emmaus road, by seven disciples who ate fish with Him, by over 500 brothers at one time, by James and all the apostles, and by Paul on the road to Damascus.

But in fact…These were not dumb hillbilly fishermen. They were smart, sane, rational people who went from not believing that Jesus had risen from the dead to believing. They had everything to lose and nothing to gain from their testimony. Many of them even lost their lives confessing the fact of Jesus’ resurrection.

But in fact…On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.  And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.

There they are. Just the facts. All for you.

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

A Blessed Easter to you all…

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.