Let us pray: Dear Risen Lord, words cannot express our joy and gratitude over Your saving us! Today we celebrate our freedom in You! Freedom from the power of sin; freedom from Satan’s tyranny over our bodies and souls, and freedom from the sting of death. May none of us ever take Your resurrection for granted, nor the freedom of soul that it brings! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR GLORIOUS RESURRECTED LORD!
TEXT: I Corinthians 15: 19-26
Fellow Redeemed Sinners Made Alive Again Through The Resurrected Christ:
The Lord is Risen!—Cong: response: He is risen indeed! Yesterday was a poignant day in our congregation. That’s because yesterday we buried a beautiful baby boy, Isaac Samuel Brekken, from the church. It was fitting to have his burial on Easter Saturday. It was fitting to have him surrounded by the Easter flowers and the Easter decorations. Why? Because those harbingers of Christ’s Easter victory over death pointed to the glorious inheritance of heaven that Isaac received directly from the Savior through his baptism! Yes, it is only because of Easter that Isaac lives. It is only because of Easter that he is fulfilling the meaning of his name, which means “laughter.” Indeed, heaven is filled with his laughter and joy this very moment, and Easter has made it so!
But, what about you and me? Are our hearts filled with the joy and laughter of unending life, too? Well, they should be. And it’s all because:
EASTER BIRTHS FORGIVENESS! REJOICE!
I Corinthians 15 is called: “the great resurrection chapter” of the Bible. In it, St. Paul lays out the meaning behind Easter—totally, definitively, and with great profundity. You see, then, as now, the majority of people simply could not accept that God’s Son died for them and then rose again to life. Those truths run counter to everything we know about life. They seem more than just paradoxical; they seem beyond belief. Why would God die for us? And how could He take back His life and arise from the dead? After all, dead means dead. That’s the entire history of humanity. And so, the vast majority of this world simply writes Easter off. They view us as deluded, non-scientific, and living in fantasyland. They consider our hope of resurrection and the certainty of Godly forgiveness that comes with it, well, they view all that as baseless and silly.
Paul addresses these issues when he writes: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” He’s right. If our faith is only about making us feel better here and now, if it really is just the “psychological crutch” many say it is; then when inescapable death strikes us we’re doomed, we have nothing left. Who wouldn’t pity such a person?
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Obviously for God to truly be God, He can do anything. That’s because He is far beyond our mortal comprehension. So, God can will to die in Christ in order to pay for our guilt and shame. He can decide to pay Himself for the debt of our sins. And He can also will to take back human flesh and rise again from the grave to prove it! And God has done exactly that for you and me! Why? Because in Christ God showed just how great His love towards us truly is! So, doubt no more the reality of God’s loving forgiveness for you!
The Apostle uses a unique expression to describe Christ’s resurrected body. He calls it “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Since I raise some fruit trees, I “get” his turn of phrase. Let me explain it to you. Fruit trees are a lot of work. You have to prune them in late winter or early, early Spring. You have to spray them for disease and bugs throughout the growing season. Finally, after flowering and pollination, small green fruits appear. The spraying goes on every few weeks as they grow. The anticipation builds and builds. Finally, one day they are ready to pick and eat. Although all of them are tasty, the first fruit is really the best! It fulfills all that longing that increased during each day of work throughout the summer. Well, when death claims a believer, it is much like sleep—peaceful and without nasty dreams. And then they suddenly awake to taste of the first fruits of Christ’s peace, joy, love, and life! They are resurrected because He was resurrected. They live because He lives! Moreover, that succulent taste of pure life gets to remain in their mouths literally forever! For Christ, our firstfruit lives eternally!
With that in mind, Paul goes on to restate the human condition on this earth and the why and how of God’s dealing with it. “For since death came through a man (Adam), so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits, then, when he comes, those who belong to him.—This is a picture of judgment day and the saints glorious future in Christ.–Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
Unlike you and me, little Isaac Brekken, was spared living long in a world filled with political intrigue, the dominion of sickness and pain, the sadness of having to someday bury his parents, and the feeling of helplessness against human sin. Yes, God was gracious in sparing him from such things, wasn’t He? But just like you and me, little Isaac was baptized. Christ was put into his heart by the Spirit’s power. And with that putting on of Christ, resurrection and eternal life became his personal possession. Forgiveness for any and all sin became his eternal inheritance. And what life is supposed to be—eternally praising God for His goodness and eating the fruit of God’s forgiving love forever—that reality also became his reality.
As believers, the only thing that gets in our way of enjoying that reality here on earth is sin and finally death. But on Good Friday sin was vanquished and forgiveness for sin was won! And then came Easter. On Easter death was conquered! On Easter Christ arose! On Easter, that final enemy was trampled under His feet! And so, you and I can live without any fears because Christ has conquered them all for us. We can live as the forgiven, beloved children of God that we are—for Christ has made it so. Yes, today, we celebrate the fact that Easter has given birth to our eternal forgiveness! Easter has birth forgiveness before the eyes of men and of angels, birthed it before the entire universe. His tomb stands empty. Someday our tombs will also stand empty. Easter makes it so. How can we not rejoice?! Amen