All Things New – Easter 2014

Artwork from member of Bethlehem, Loretta Netzel

Artwork from member of Bethlehem, Loretta Netzel

Readings: Acts 10:34-43; Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 28:1-10

Alleluia, Christ is risen!He is risen indeed, alleluia!

Ever get tired of it? Of course you do. There’s a reason for so many Christmas and Easter Christians. You get tired of it. We are always looking for something new, something innovative. Perhaps you came today to hear the resurrection and some sort of “aha” moment. Something about your finances, about your marriage, about your parenting. Perhaps you’ve come looking for some inspiration to get you through a difficult situation, family problem, friend problem, or health problem. We grow tired and weary of the same liturgy, the same hymns, the same readings, the same prayers, and even the same preaching.

We live on the edge of boredom. We read and hear the Scriptures for the next great thought. You’ve probably been let down already hoping to listen to something new.

The death and resurrection of Jesus doesn’t always excite us. Miracles do. Healing diseases, giving sight to the blind, calming storms, feeding thousands with very little, that gets us pumped. We also like the parables, many calling them earthly stories with heavenly meaning. Their cute. We can make them into children’s books. The problem comes when we miss the point in it all.

You see the miracles are nothing without death and resurrection of Jesus. The parables are nothing without death and resurrection. Baptism is just plain water without death and resurrection. The Lord’s Supper is just bread and wine without Christ’s death and resurrection. Christmas, Holy Week, Easter, even gathering here each week is nothing without the death and resurrection of Jesus.

What’s your purpose in life? What are you to do in any given situation? These are questions we constantly ask.

Most of our answers bring us to look out for ourselves. Selfish greed, pride, do what I want and make things the way I think they ought to be. Befriend those who agree with me, stay away and avoid those who do not. Read and hear stories and Scriptural accounts that affirm things the way we think they ought, neglect those parts that make us uncomfortable.

You see the miracles were signs. We love them because we Jesus providing healing and solutions for the problems of the world we see each and every day in our own lives. There is a reason these problems exist though. Sin. Sin brings forth death. The parables are indeed earthly stories with heavenly meaning. They show us the mercy and character of God. They show us the Father through the Word made flesh. Always in the parables is the mercy and love of the Father in forgiving, giving life, and providing in the midst of struggle, evil, and death.

From the beginning is the same story, the same meaning. It’s always the same. It’s the same because we continue to return to the same. The same sins. Over and over again. The same problems. They continue to plague us. When we think we’ve overcome them we fall right back, or we find sin that we’ve ignored or pushed aside or excused as permissible. In this life sin and death surround us. Over and over we see it. Sin fills our talk, our gossip, our news, our places of business, our families, our friends, our schools, our entire lives.

This is why the Word is made flesh. This is why Jesus the Christ dies. This is what all the prophets bear witness to, that the Christ must suffer and die and on the third day be risen from the dead. For what purpose? That everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name. For you have died. Died to sin. He declared it from the cross, “it is finished.” The “it” isn’t Jesus’ life. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. He can and indeed does die. He dies for you. He dies as the atoning sacrifice for your sin. Yet the death of Jesus does not finish Jesus. Jesus’ death finishes death.

Alleluia, Christ is risen!He is risen indeed, alleluia!

It’s what we need. It’s what everyone needs. That’s why Peter’s preaching is so simple and so clear. He simply tells what happened. This Jesus, whom you’ve heard healing and preaching and teaching, was put to death, hung up on a tree, crucified, dead, and buried. God raised Him on the third day.

It’s no story. The life of Jesus is no mere story. It’s history. It happened. It’s an account. He appeared to people. That’s what’s so amazing about these little details that get recorded. The days line up. The timeline presented. It’s what happened. It was imagined. They didn’t just see Jesus in Spirit. It was no vision or dream, it wasn’t glimpses recorded as a story. It was Jesus. The One born of conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered, crucified, dead, and buried. They grabbed His feet.

The Son of God is risen and speaks to them. Do not be afraid. There is no fear for man is at peace with God in Christ. He will see them in Galilee. They will see Him in flesh and blood. They will hear His Word. They will touch Him. They will hear the same words, do not be afraid.

Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid of sin. It is finished. It is dead. You are risen with Him. Do not be afraid of death and hell, for Christ has conquered and brings you through. Do not be afraid of struggles and temptation. Do not be afraid of your life, your mistakes, or your future. For Christ is your life. Your life is in God and in Christ.

Yet that’s problem with life. We grow tired and weary. We want to move the furniture around in some symbolic gesture to change up our life. We try new fads. Move jobs. Move houses. Move to new cities. Seek new adventures. Not that our life isn’t provided for or that anything was wrong with it, our desires are just for something new.

Behold, Jesus makes all things new. Each and every time He comes and makes you new in baptism, making that reality new each and every time you confess your sin and hear His Word in absolution, your sin is forgiven. You are given new life in Christ. He continues to feed that life. He teaches and instructs you in His Word. He forgives your sin. He draws you back to your baptismal grace and brings His work of mercy over and over. He leads us to recall who the Lord is and what He has done in confessing the faith in the Creed. He creates in you a clean heart and renews your spirit by His Spirit who brings you to repentance and faith and gives you to love. He feeds you with bread from heaven, His body, and gives you the very blood shed for the forgiveness of sin.

This is Jesus. The One born of Mary. The Son of God. The Word made flesh. The Messiah. The Christ. He has had mercy on you and on me. He has spared us from sin, death, and the devil. For He is the one who was put to death for your sin. He is the Christ, the Son of God, who on this day is risen from the dead for our justification. He has forgiven your sin. He has made you right with God. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again, for we daily sin much. Receive the forgiveness of sin. He forgives. It’s in His name. The name placed on you in Baptism. The name we’ve gathered around this day.

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

Alleluia, Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed, alleluia!

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