The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the
Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Matthew 28: 1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first
day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the
grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of
the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and
sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as
white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead
men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that
you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 He is not here, for He
has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 Go
quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold,
He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I
have told you.” 8 And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy
and ran to report it to His disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them [b]and
greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped
Him. 10 Then Jesus *said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to
My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”. (NASB)
“Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!”
Each Wednesday evening service throughout the six weeks of Lent we
considered the six major Old Testament/Jewish festivals. We learned about Ros
Hashana (Feast of Trumphets), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Sukkot, (the
Feast of Tabernacles), Chanukah (Feast of Dedication), Purim (Feast of Esther),
and Pesach (Passover). We considered all these feasts and their respective
connection to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
This morning, something entirely new. This morning we celebrate the Feast
of the Resurrection. There was no Old Testament ordinance commanding the
Israelites to observe a Feast of the Resurrection or precursor to the resurrection.
That does not mean the Old Testament doesn’t have anything to say about
the resurrection. The Old Testament teaches that there will be a resurrection of the
dead on the last day. Job 19:25-26 for example. “For I know that my Redeemer
liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And . . . in my
flesh shall I see God.”
Psalm 16:9 “Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh
also will dwell securely. 10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will
You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. 11 You will make known to me the
path of life.”
The Old Testament also teaches that the promised Messiah will die and will
be resurrected. In Isaiah 53 8 “That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave
was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death . . .
[But] He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper
in His hand. . . . My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their
iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great . . .I prolong
Add to these two classes of resurrection talk, the fact that there were
resurrections in the Old Testament. While Elijah was staying with the widow of
Zarephath, the widow’s only son died. “21 Then he stretched himself upon the
child three times and cried to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, let this child’s life
come into him again.’ 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah. And the
life of the child came into him again, and he revived.” (1 Kings 17:20-22)
In 2 Kings 4, Elisha raised the son of a Shunammite woman. In 2 Kings 13,
as a dead man was being buried his body came in contact with Elisha and was
brought back to life.
When it comes to the Feast of the Resurrection, it is a distinctly New
Testament, New Covenant, Christian celebration, unlike any other. It is the
“natural” consequence of the Christ’s fulfillment of Ros Hashana (Feast of
Trumphets-New Year), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and Pesach
In the modern era, Christmas is considered by most people as the highest
Christian Festival of the year. But that is a recent development. For two thousand
years, Easter, the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ was and
continues to be the supreme Christian festival in the Church calendar.
It is the Feast and Festival of Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the power
of the devil. It shows that Christ’s perfect life of love and obedience to His
Father’s heavenly will and His sacrificial death was the complete and all sufficient
payment for our sins. Romans 4:23 “Now not for his sake only was it written that
it was credited to him, 24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as
those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who
was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised on account of
The atoning sacrifice and its resulting resurrection is the victory that has
been given to every Christian and it will never be diminished or taken away from
That’s why we sing, THIS IS THE FEAST OF VICTORY FOR OUR GOD. WORTHY
IS CHRIST, THE LAMB WHO WAS SLAIN, WHOSE BLOOD SET US FREE TO BE PEOPLE
OF GOD. THIS IS THE FEAST OF VICTORY FOR OUR GOD FOR THE LAMB WHO WAS
SLAIN HAS BEGUN HIS REIGN. These lyrics were lifted right from Holy Scripture in
Revelation Chapter five and comes from the mouths of angels, archangels, and all
the company of heaven.
This Feast is unlike any other. No other religion has such an event. In
Northern India a missionary was preaching the death and resurrection of Jesus.
When he had finished a Muslim man approached him and said, “You must admit
we Muslim’s have something that you Christians do not have, and it is better than
anything that you Christians might have?” “What would that be?” replied the
Christian missionary. “When we go to our Mecca, we at least have a coffin with
Mohammed in it. When you Christians go to Jerusalem, which is your Mecca, you
find nothing but an empty grave.” (Deffner, Seasonal Illustrations)
The grave is empty. It could not hold Him. Jesus Christ the Lord is risen
today! Death has no dominion over Him. Christ is the First-fruits of those who
have fallen asleep.
While three sons were raised in the Old Testament, three children and one
adult in the New Testament, no dead person has ever raised himself or herself. But
Jesus said long before His death on the cross, John 10:18 “No one has taken it
[that is My life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have
authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”
Christ’s victory over sin, death, and the power of the death is your victory.
It has been given to you. You are part of the victory story too! You are a part of
the continuos line of Christians who close their eyes to this world and open their
eyes in the next.
Because Christ lives, so too you live. Christ’s resurrection is the divine
guarantee that all who believe and are baptized, though they die a physical death,
will never perish. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes
Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has
passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24)
On that first Easter morning, it took a little bit for the reality to sink in. But
once the reality of the resurrection took hold of the women and disciples who
showed up at the tomb, Jesus’s resurrection changed everything.
The Gospel of St. Matthew reports that after the angel preached the good
news of the resurrection the women 8 “left the tomb quickly with fear and great
joy and ran to report it to His disciples.” Fear and great joy. They did not greet
the news and these unprecedented events causally.
The Gospel of St. Mark says this of the women, 8 “They went out and fled
from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had gripped them; and they said
nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” The words “trembling” and
“astonishment” don’t quite convey the full force of the Greek words used in the
Gospel of St. Mark.
Upon being told of Jesus’s resurrection by an angel, the women ran from
that tomb, for tromis and ecstasis had gripped them. Tromis, “trauma” and
ecstasis, ecstasy had taken possession of them.
Too many Christians, this one included has a habit of reducing the Feast of
the Resurrection, the Easter victory to little more than a special day on the church
calendar, family time, and a big meal or two.
But Easter stands alone. All the other Feasts and Festivals had a shelf life.
Ros Hashana (Feast of Trumphets), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Sukkot,
(the Feast of Tabernacles), Chanukah (Feast of Dedication), Purim (Feast of
Esther), and Pesach (Passover) have all, like the temple itself, fulfilled their
purposes and were rendered obsolete by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When Christ returns and brings with Him the new heaven and new earth
Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday will also pass away. Only
Easter will live on eternally. Easter is never ending.
But it is different. The women at the tomb were close to Jesus. They knew
Him personally. Of course, their reaction was deeper and bigger and more lasting.
Here’s what is not different. You’re close to Him too. You know Him too. You
were baptized into His life, death, and resurrection just as they were. You have
been given the same saving faith as they had received. You receive the same body
and blood as they consumed.
It is my God given task today to speak to you the same words that the angel
spoke to those women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for
Jesus who has been crucified. 6 He is not here, for He has risen.”
It is my God given task and privilege to give to you this very day the Feast
of the First fruits of those who have fallen asleep for as often as you eat this bread
and drink this cup you do show the Lord’s death till He come. You have been
given everything that the women at the tomb had been given. You have been given
everything that the disciples had been given, namely the life, death, and
resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Thus the Epistle lesson, Galatians 3:1 “Therefore if you have been raised
up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right
hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on
earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When
Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in
This is the Feast the of the Resurrection of our Lord. This is the Feast of the
Victory of our Lord. This also the feast of your victory. Happy Easter!
MAY THE PEACE THAT PASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR
HEARTS AND MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS. AMEN.