Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sermon for Easter Sunday: "Words that Change the World"

+ The Resurrection of our Lord – April 16th, 2017 +
Series A: Jeremiah 31:1-6; Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 28:1-10
Redeemer Lutheran, HB

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

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

As we see the course of history wind its way through time, whether ancient or more recent (it matters not), we find that every so often someone writes a song, delivers a speech, or tells a story that not only makes history, but changes it.

Our world was founded upon words: Let there be light. And there was light.

Words set history in motion, and so it should come as no surprise to find words that change the world in every generation.

Our own country’s history has witnessed such world-changing words:

Four score and seven years ago…

December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy.

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.

Yes, words change the world. And none more so than the words we hear today:

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

Today we hear, sing, and shout words that changed the world unlike any other words past, present, or future. Today we rejoice in words that turned the world upside down. Today we give thanks and praise for words that not only make history, but change it forever.

He is risen!

These words remind us that Jesus is no stranger to remarkable, joyous, world-changing words.

Remember the words the angel said to Joseph before Jesus’ birth:
She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.

Remember the words of John the Baptist as he stood by the Jordan River:
Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Remember the words of Jesus that continue to change the world every time we hear them:

The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. 

Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

These are Jesus’ words that change the world. We need these words. These words are our life. If Jesus’ words are not true…if he did not die or rise from the dead…we are liars; we are of all people most to be pitied, our faith is in vain, and worst of all, we are still in our sin.

With our words we lie, curse, and complain; we build ourselves up while tearing others down; we sin in thought, word, and deed. Yes, our words change the world too, but not for the better.

Our words reveal deeper ugliness of our sinful heart within. Without Jesus’ words, we are dead in trespasses. But our sin and death does not get the last word today.
Today Jesus’ words change the world for you too. 

These three words - He is risen – have changed our world forever. They are not metaphorical, mythical, or legendary words. They are words of faith founded upon fact. These words change history, and yet are a part of history as well.

The pages of history turn on Jesus’ objective, historically veracious, and sufficient sacrifice on the cross for you, and his glorious resurrection for you.

It is a matter of fact in that it is a fact of history. A pivotal fact of history. It is the fulcrum around which all of human history pivots and has its ultimate meaning. It is a matter of fact as any other fact of history from the Ming Dynasty to the Greco-Roman empire. The tomb of Jesus is empty. The body of Jesus is risen. That is a matter of fact.

It is a matter of faith in that the entirety of what we believe rests on the fact that Christ was put to death for our sins and raised for our justification. We don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead, we believe because Jesus rose from the dead.

Jesus is risen. And today is a day that will live in victory.

Jesus is risen. And today Jesus took one small step for God, but one giant leap for mankind when he walked out of his grave and ours.

Jesus is risen. And today he has broken down the dividing wall by his flesh crucified and risen for you. The temple curtain is torn in two. The stone is rolled away. And the grave is opened. All for you.

Jesus is risen. And today our mourning is turned to joy. Death is destroyed. Sin is banished.
Though hidden from our eyes for a while longer, our resurrection is guaranteed.

He is risen.

Jesus “has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the king of death. Everything is different because he has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.” (C.S. Lewis, Miracles, p. 237)

Jesus is risen. And today we rejoice in these words that change the world.

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

A blessed Resurrection of our Lord to each of you…

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

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