08. April 2012
1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Mark 16:1-8
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
It is the first day of a new week. Holy week is ended and the holy season of Easter has begun! Death has given way to life. Darkness unto light. The sealed tomb is opened. The reign of sin is over.
This is a new day and a new week. The old is gone, behold the new has come. With all this newness, what is old? What is tired, dilapidated, and worn-out? What needs replacing, repair, and restoration? What needs the grime, the filth, and the tarnish cleaned, washed, and polished? What is broken, distorted, and useless?
Not what but who. We need to be crucified with Christ and raised with Him. You might not have believed this some weeks ago. Yet, you were marked with Ash as Christ declared “Remember thou art dust and to dust you shall return.” You may have kept the fast or some other Lenten discipline. You rededicated yourself to the study and hearing of God’s Word by attending Wednesday catechesis. But Lent really isn’t about what you do but what Christ does in you.
The holy season of Lent is preparation for a Holy Easter. The preaching of Lent reminded you of your sin, your service to the devil, and your impending death. In Lutheran terms, it was more Law than Gospel. This is a good and gracious thing. We must know who we are before we can learn who we are in Christ. We must know our condition before the recondition in Christ is received in faith. We must know about death to learn about resurrection. You have been prepared and now receive.
“Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” Romans 6:3-4.
Death to the old Adam and newness of life in the resurrected Adam! Easter joys! We are buried and raised with Him. United with him in a death like His and resurrected with Him into newness of life. Sometimes folks like to think of forgiveness as a purely verbal declaration. “I forgive you” but secretly I still hate your guts.
Not so with Christ. When He died for you, He redeemed you from every mortal foe. But He doesn’t leave it at that. No, He couples redemption with grace. He gives to you freedom and equips you with the Holy Spirit to remain in this freedom. You know what it is like apart from Christ. Your Lenten exercises taught you what a miserable thing life would be apart from Jesus’ death and resurrection for you.
When Jesus redeemed you in Holy Baptism, He endowed you with grace. His grace cleanses out the old leaven, malice and evil, hatred of God and of neighbor. This grace of baptism daily crucifies the old flesh, that which is dead in trespasses and old, nasty leaven. This grace of baptism restores you to new life, a new day, a new week, and a eternal resurrection. This days is a “new lump” a day of rejoicing and gladness, a day of thanks and of steadfast love.
The new day has begun! Christ’s resurrection is testimony that redemption is accomplished. What He promised and finished at the cross is most certainly true. He was not condemned to the grave but burst its three day prison. He rose as a testament of the life to come. All who die with Him will rise with Him.
This whole week the Holy Scriptures painted a lovely picture of our Savior as both lamb and conquerer. As the lamb, Christ gave himself as the sacrifice, taking away sin, and giving His own crucified flesh for the food of the Supper. The lamb is a comforting image—not because it is cute and fluffy—but because by the lamb’s death, peace with God once more is made. The lamb’s blood reconciles you to God. You need not fear His wrath, nor death, nor even the devil. For Christ has made everything right again. You can stand before God with a clear conscience, not fearing death, and ignoring the wiles and charms of Satan.
So also we learned of Jesus as Conquerer. All through this Lententide, Christ went from skirmish to battle, defeating all that would assail us. He defeats Satan’s temptations. He is the stronger man who overcomes and divides the spoil. He is the giver of every bodily need. He is the glorious king of Palm Sunday, the victor king ever reigning.
His victory is Golgotha. He overcame death and opened the gates to paradise to all who believe. Therefore let us cleanse out the old leaven of doubt. Let us receive this Easter gift with thanksgiving. Let us embrace His gracious invitation and trust by the Holy Spirit. By preaching and teaching, Word and Sacrament, let us leanse out the old leaven of evil and malice, and receive forgiveness, resurrection, and new life today and into eternity.
The cross and resurrection is the greatest good. Christ’s body and blood given for you is the fruit of the cross. A new and clean heart has new leaven of good desires. The old is gone and the new has come to good effect—new life in Christ for you. This is the new day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. It is a new day, a new week, a new year—a new life!
In Name of the Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rev. Christopher R. Gillespie
Grace Lutheran Church