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Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany "C"

February 10, 2007

Sixth Sunday After the Epiphany     Trinity Lutheran Church
11 February 2007                               Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Today the big word is “resurrection.”  But what does that mean in Scripture?  The dead living on in the memories and lives of others?  No.  Reincarnation?  Grandpa coming back as a cow, a monkey, or a pigmy in New Guinea?  No.  Not even close.  Scripture speaks of resurrection in this way:  the raising of a corpse to life again.  The undoing or unraveling of death itself.   The body that has fallen in death will stand again in the resurrection.

It’s the resurrection of the body that we confess in the Creeds.  The resurrection of our bodies.  On the Last Day.

And this is possible only because Jesus bodily rose from the grave on Easter morning.  If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then we won’t either.  So, the apostle lays out the heavy case for Jesus’ resurrection.  Piles on the evidence.    Just like a lawyer in a courtroom.  And the evidence presented would stand up in our courts today.

Imagine calling all these folks to the witness stand:  “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?” A whole slew of them would. They saw Jesus risen.  Jesus showed Himself to Peter and the other apostles.  And then to more than 500 eyewitnesses at one time.  Then to James His half-brother and to all the apostles again.  Perhaps this is a reference to His Ascension in Acts 1.  And then last of all to Paul who formerly persecuted and hunted down Christians.  The resurrection of Jesus is HISTORY.  A matter of fact.

But preachers in Corinth and in our time proclaim from the pulpit that Jesus did not rise.  Can you imagine?  Preachers preaching that?  But there were.  And there are.

Such false preaching guts the Christian faith.  Disembowels our salvation entirely.

Imagine excluding the resurrection of Jesus on the Third Day from the creeds?  Imagine Christianity without Easter.  You’ve got no Christianity left.

The apostle spells it out quite clearly:  “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is empty.  Foolish.  Hopeless.  Vain.  Futile.”  In other words, we’re wasting our time being Christians.  It’s foolish to worship Jesus.  It’s time for me to quit being a preacher and apply for a bus-driving job in Bellevue.  And you should have stayed in bed.

And then comes the big bombshell.  If Jesus has not been raised, then “you are still in your sins.”  In other words, Jesus’ death on the Cross is meaningless for you.  He’s quite worthless.  A fraud.  A huckster.  Your trust in Him as God and Savior is misplaced.  Stupid.  A total waste.

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, he’s no different than Buddha, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, the Dali Lama, or any other religious leader.  Jesus is reduced to only being our example to follow.  Then He’s only for this life — helping us to feel good about ourselves, coping, getting us through the day.  If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we are the most pitiful people alive.

But Jesus has been raised from the dead.  He’s a bigger Savior than we ever imagined.  For this life.  And for the
next.  His resurrection vindicates His death for you.  It’s God’s seal of approval on Calvary.  That you truly are forgiven for Jesus’ sake.  His Blood really does cleanse you from all sin.  God isn’t angry with you.  Instead, He is most pleased with you for Jesus’ sake who is risen from the dead.

What Jesus did He did for you.  It counts for you.  He’s the “firstfruits of them that sleep.”   Our loved ones sleep in the cemeteries. They sleep safely in Jesus.  And because Jesus rose they too will rise.

Jesus alone can be trusted with our death.  He alone can be trusted with our resurrection.  For He alone died and rose for us.  And in Him we are risen and will be raised.  That’s right.  You heard me correctly.  In Christ we’ve died.  That’s 2 Corinthians 5:14  “One died for all . . . therefore all died.”  In other words, Jesus’ death on the Cross was for everyone.  What’s His counts for everybody.

And we’ve also been raised from the dead.  And when did that happen?  When Jesus rose from the dead.  That’s Ephesians 2:4-6 “But because of his great love for us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus is the head of a new humanity.  The second and last Adam.  What He did counts for you and me.  He died.  We died.  He rose.  We rose.  But the key is always in, with, and under Jesus.

But all this is an article of faith.  In other words, it can only be believed.  Can’t be proven.  In fact, here we are.  Our bodies growing older, more diseased, and dying a little bit every day.  Some more quickly.  Some a little slower.  And then the day will come for our funeral and internment.

However, on the Last Day First Fruits Jesus will raise our bodies raised from the dead.  The bodies He died and rose for.  The bodies He baptized and on which He put His holy Name.  The bodies He feeds with His body and blood.  On that Last Day He will raise our lowly bodies.  There we will stand before the world.  In those glorified bodies He’ll reveal what we’ve always been in Him:  dead and risen.

And what joy to have this salvation in our resurrected bodies when faith finally gives way to sight.

In the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

From → Sermons

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