Wonder is Changed to Wonder at the Resurrection

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EXORDIUM

Sing, Ye who now on earth do dwell!
Worthy the Lamb for sinners slain!
From angels praise and thanks from men!
Worthy the Lam, enthroned to reign,
Glory and pow’r!  Amen.  Amen.

Dear seekers after Easter joy, dear world-weary and sin-burdened, dear anxious and apprehensive, dear grief-stricken and lonely – and all who have ever been this way, or in their humanity are liable to be…

Rejoice, Sing to the Lord a glorious song, for Christ is risen and lives.

Dear fellow redeemed, for that is what we all are, all human beings, with our sins taken to the grave by our substitute, full payment, ransom, atonement, redemption paid by Him!

It’s not like it has been a secret!

But as the greatest gift of God to humanity, it is just too big for us to easily wrap our heads around it. Besides that, that old liar, the devil, the fallen, hateful, rebellious creature, fights against the truth at every turn.

So humanity looks at the crucified Christ, the suffering Christ, in amazement. For it seems that death wins and Christ loses. It seemed on Good Friday as though hope itself had died.

That is the way it was with the women at Jesus’ tomb.  They were wondering, trying to imagine what had happened, when the angels appeared to them.  They appeared and said, “Remember.”  Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” They had been given the answer.  Somehow at the time it didn’t make sense.  What Jesus foretold was so unbelievable, and then when it happened – the fear, the violence, the blood, the death, the grief – it was hard to believe, much less connect it with the words of Jesus before.  “Remember,” the angel said.  8Then they remembered his words.

Then Wonder (trying to imagine what happened) change to Wonder (joy and amazement).  6He is not here; he has risen!

Alleluia, God be praised, Christ is Risen!  So let us rise and sing the festival hymn, “Alleluia, Christ is risen; his the scepter, His the throne!.”

Luke 24:1–12 (CSB)

RESURRECTION MORNING

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground.

“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. “He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” And they remembered his words.

Returning from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. 10 Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them were telling the apostles these things. 11 But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths., So he went away, amazed at what had happened.

So it is that

WONDER CHANGED TO WONDER

  1. Wonder and Uncertainty Becomes Wonder and Awe
  2. He Is Risen as He Said
  3. Therefore There Is Joy in His Promises

1.   Wonder and Uncertainty Becomes Wonder and Awe

There are many players whose lives crisscrossed that day.  Remember, the Jews counted the beginning of a day at dusk.  The great Passover Sabbath that had begun on Friday at dusk had ended at dusk on Saturday.  As was common the shops then would open up and so it was in the dark that the women probably went to buy the spices they had needed and other necessaries for washing the body of Jesus and preparing it for a dignified interment.  Perhaps they even considered taking his body back to Galilee for burial in the family plot.

They wouldn’t have known that the tomb was sealed and a watch stationed there because that all happened after they, in reverence for the Sabbath, returned home and remained at rest.

They didn’t travel all the way from Galilee to Jerusalem with the things they needed to prepare the body of the dead, for they were coming as joyful pilgrims to Jerusalem for the Passover. So who knows how long it took to get everything together?  It was still dark when they left for the tomb, and probably dawn by the time they got there.  Some or all of them had made the trip before when Jesus body was laid in the tomb.  Surely in their mind’s eye was the image of the stone rolled against the opening of the tomb.

But now it was all different. they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. Now they began to wonder, trying to imagine what had happened.  What would you have thought?  What theories would fit the data?  In John we read that Mary Magdalene concluded that “they,” whoever that was, had taken away his body.  The disciples hadn’t done it; they were frightened and in hiding.  The Jews or Romans hadn’t done it – they had sealed the tomb.  Anyway, they would have produced the body to contradict any claims of a resurrection.

All they could do was wonder.

While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground.   As sinful human beings in the presence of holiness, they were truly frightened.  I can only imagine the effect, following the life-and-death fears of the last couple of days, the confusion, the uncertainty, and the anxiety – the fear!

2.  He Is Risen as He Said

But fear and uncertainty vanish in the face of God’s word, and that is what these angels brought, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. “He is not here, but he has risen!Really, this was the only solution that fit all the data, but so far beyond all human experience that nothing less than the certification of God’s own word would suffice.

In fact, they had been told this before.  Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. “He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” And they remembered his words. 

The problem is not one of memory, but of faith.  Do you remember Jesus’ words to you, “I will never leave you or forsake you?”  Do you remember Jesus’ promise, “Lo, I am with you always, to the end of the world”?  Do you remember Jesus assurance, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.” (John 14:27, CSB) If so, then why have you sometimes lonely or upset?  Do you feel abandoned at times?

Our spiritual problem is not a memory problem, but a matter of faith, of spiritual life.  In fact, there are many who remember much that is in the Bible, but have lost their faith.  For faith shows in life – it cannot help but do so.

And how does it show?  It shows in an acknowledgement of God’s place in our lives and in a repentant spirit.  It shows in confidence and trust in God’s promises. It shows in a living confession of our faith, as it did with the women: Returning from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest.

We are not gathered on this day just to remember the teaching that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  We come to worship the risen Christ, and to hear this gospel, this good news yet again, so that His powerful word would strengthen our faith.

The good news, God’s own good news, is proclaimed here by the angels of God, but has been brought in all its power by His people in every age.  First now with these women, and then by the disciples.

By Peter in the first sermon of the New Testament church on Pentecost:  “God raised him up, ending the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by death.” (Acts 2:24, CSB)

And in a later sermon:  “God raised up this man on the third day and caused him to be seen, not by all the people, but by us whom God appointed as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. (Acts 10:40–41, CSB) .

And it is by this word of God, I can declare to you that Christ … “was appointed to be the powerful Son of God according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead.” (Romans 1:4, CSB)

This is such good news because “He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:25, CSB)

3.  Therefore There Is Joy in His Promises

Since Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, as had been foretold in the Holy Scriptures, and according to His own promises, then let us live in the joy of his promises, because we live in faith.

Remember and believe as Paul reminds us “You are not your own, for you were bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20, CSB)

This is something that we sing about, together with the angels in heaven, and all believers who have gone before us: “And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you purchased people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Revelation 5:9, CSB)

That is redemption.  He has bought you back from sin, death, and hell to be His own as were Adam and Eve in paradise.  Because he is risen and has redeemed you unto Himself I can promise you…

  • The perfect and complete forgiveness of sins.
  • Life, even though you die
  • Eternal fellowship with God, where all the things that you have come to know as good are present in endless abundance.
  • Hope for the future, that you do not go alone through this world or from this world into eternity.
  • Meaning in life, for the things you do out of love for your savior are not transitory, but appreciated by him forever,

Because Christ is risen, we live in faith, that is we live as though all of His promises are as good as fulfilled! And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.(2 Corinthians 5:15, CSB) Because of this, and His forgiving love there heaven is open to you:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.(1 Peter 1:3–4, CSB)

So let us live and rejoice in His promises, confirmed unto us by His resurrection from the dead, and so let us sing with the angels and with all the believers in heaven and on earth, the song composed in heaven itself and written by the hand of the Apostle, John,

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.  Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.  AMEN.