The Risen Christ Forgives and Restores!
The Resurrection of Our Lord / 10:30 Service Trinity Lutheran Church
16 April 2017 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
Matthew doesn’t mince words. The supreme event of the gospel is reported so economically. Yet so wonderfully! Could it be? Did it really happen?
Spoiler alert! Yes! It did! Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! There’s no doubt about it. “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” The tomb is empty! No corpse! Bodily resurrection!
This fact of the empty tomb and very physical resurrection of Jesus is to be preached. His resurrection is the best of news! It means that His Good Friday death on the cross truly did atone for every sin and every sinner. It means that He really is the Messiah. He is the Savior of sinners.
That’s exactly why the angel tells the two Marys: “Then go quickly and tell his disciples” and when Jesus Himself met them He too instructed the women: “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Did you catch that? It’s salvationally incredible! Salvifically huge!
Jesus calls these sinners “disciples” and “brothers.” Learn and believe this: the risen Jesus remains the Good Friday Jesus. The Good Friday and Easter Jesus is the Forgiver and Restorer!
What do you do with sinners? I know what you do. I know what I do. It’s not good. We’re stingy. Tight fisted. Tight wadded. Ham fisted. Self-righteous. Reluctant to say: “I forgive you” or bullish on never verbalizing forgiveness to anyone. Jesus, however, does just the opposite. He goes after the sinner – diligently! Targets them. Leaves the ninety-nine to find the one lost sheep. Lights the lamp and sweeps the house to find the lost coin. Doesn’t stop until he finds them. Then He’s extravagantly generous. Some would call it reckless, irresponsible, foolish. But He does it anyway. It’s His cup of tea. He forgives sinners. He restores them. He gains them. Wins them. Just like Jesus Himself mandates in Matthew 16 and Matthew 18 or in John 20!
Jesus puts into practice what He preached and mandated. Through the angel at the empty grave the very author of the Office of the Keys calls the dismal good for nothing men that had forfeited their right to discipleship “his disciples” still! He who has the authority over both heaven and hell calls these very pathetic men that had forsaken Him and denied Him His “brothers” still!
The divine authority and power of Good Friday Jesus fully emerges in the light of Easter Sunday. Part and parcel of the authority of the crucified and risen Jesus is the power to forgive sinners their sins! No matter who! No matter how much! No matter how bad! The whole enchilada of forgiveness comes from Good Friday and easter-ly risen Jesus! Here and now!
So, “go quickly and tell his disciples.” “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” They will see the Jesus that died for them. Who gives them salvation. Forgiveness. Restoration.
Then the Lord Jesus has good use of these forgiven restored sinners. That’s the second half of Matthew 28. You know it by heart. Jesus meets the disciples on the mountain in Galilee. He comes to them. They too worshiped him; but some doubted. Nonetheless, He sends them – apostles. He apostles them. All authority in heaven and on earth Jesus authorizes these men, to bestow forgiveness and salvation to “all nations,” a whole world full of unworthy and undeserving Gentile sinners through baptism in the Triune Name and teaching everything He has mandated. Yes, these disciples and brothers are sent so that the Lord Jesus would have more “disciples,” more “brothers.” More believers in Him!
The Book of Acts describes how Jesus disciples sinners from “all nations” — how the risen Jesus, uses the apostles to baptize and teach and have a church consisting not only of believing Jews but also the goyim – the unclean Gentiles or “nations.” So we find Peter in Acts 10. Apostled by the Lord Peter brings the gospel to the Roman Gentile centurion Cornelius. He preaches Christ crucified and Christ risen. “Hung on a tree but God raised him on the third day.” “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:40-43)
The authority of the risen Lord Jesus is the compassionate authority to give forgiveness to sinners. He has given that to you too. He died for you. He rose for you. He has sent me – apostl-ed me too – to tell you that all your sins are forgiven. Jesus still considers you to be His disciples and brothers too. In addition, all authority in heaven and on earth Jesus has sent me to you and authorized me to baptize your children and to help you teach them everything that Jesus has commanded. In all of this the Lord Jesus churches you. He has a church.
In this church He, through the Holy Spirit, daily and richly forgives all your sins and the sins of all believers. He Matthew 16s, Matthew 18s and John 20s you. He comes after you – meets you – not on a Galilean mountaintop but in the divine service Sunday after Sunday. His lavish forgiveness will bear fruit for the long haul. His divine forgiveness given to you in His Word and sacraments will give you the resurrection of the body and life everlasting on the Last Day. The full fruit of His Good Friday forgiveness seen with your eyes. Total restoration.
The apostle Paul puts it this way: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory,” (Col. 3:3-4).
Can that be? Will that really happen? Yes! Absolutely! After all, you’ve already been raised to new life of faith in Jesus through baptism. You are a new creation already through faith in Jesus. The old has passed away. The new has come. Again, at the moment that’s spelled: F-A-I-T-H. And then all authoritative Jesus gives you this whopper of an Easter promise just FOR YOU: “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mk 16:16).
Happy Easter dear “disciples” and “brothers” of the risen Savior Jesus!