With the preaching of angels you learn to know God perfectly. And those words are: “He is not here. He has risen.”
Indeed. The women saw the empty tomb. So did Peter. Salvifically perplexing. Salvifically marvelous. FOR YOU, that is! In the crucified and risen Jesus you know God perfectly. That He is God FOR YOU. What He did on Good Friday and Easter Sunday is FOR YOUR salvation. As pure gift from Him! Truly He justifies the ungodly as St. Paul preaches.
He is risen. This is no idle tale. It is the truth. Just as Jesus promised. Delivered into the hands of sinful men. Crucified. But on the third day raised from the grave never to die again. Remember His promise? Jesus preached it over and over again. Good thing Jesus had what many would call a death and resurrection mania! A death and resurrection on the brain!
This is the gospel! What is primary! What is ultimate! I preach it to you today. Why do you look for the LIVING in a grave at the cemetery? I said, why do you look for the LIVING? The LIVING! That’s the key word! LIVING! He is risen! Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried and RAISED on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
“He is not here. He has risen.” Consequently, Good Friday is not emptied of its power! His atoning death really does count for you! His IT IS FINISHED work of salvation is absolutely reliable. You are forgiven. All your sin answered for.
All your life has meaning now! Everything is different. Salvifically different! Because Jesus died for our sins. Because Jesus rose on the third day. Here is the fact: “Christ has been raised from the dead.”
The resurrection of Jesus is the all-controlling fact of the world’s history – as well as your history! What do I mean? The text says it. Listen. The resurrected Jesus is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Your bodily resurrection is guaranteed because Jesus is the firstfruits. In other words, Jesus’ bodily resurrection is FOR YOU! It counts for you. Notice how Paul preaches this. In Adam all die. “For as in Adam all die.” But in Jesus, the head of a new humanity, “all will be made alive.” With you Firstfruits Jesus shares His resurrection reign. He shares His triumph over death and grave with you. Yes, Jesus is the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Jesus is the beginning and the guarantee of the full harvest of the resurrection of the body that will take place on the Last Day. “For since death came through a man [Adam], the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man [Jesus].” Believers receive eternal life in the body. Unbelievers, who insisted upon it, are given eternal damnation in the body. “But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then, when he comes [on the Last Day], those who belong to him.”
Death is not your friend. Death is not to be welcomed. I know. I know. One of your favorite rock songs from the 1970s is Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” I’ve had that requested for funerals believe it or not. Buck Dharma, lead singer of Blue Oyster Cult, wrote those lyrics while he pictured an early death for himself that he could embrace as something neutral. Death, however, is your enemy.
However, the goods news is that your enemy death is defeated. Death is put to death in Jesus’ death and resurrection. He rose. And so will you on the Last Day. Until then, you live in what God has promised you in your Baptism. There at the font you were baptized “into Christ’s death.” Consequently, since “you have been united with him like this in his death, you will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection,” (Rom 6). What you have now by faith, on the Last Day you will see with your eyes. It is this: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death” when Jesus raises your bodies from your graves to give you a resurrected body like His never to die again.
Your bodily resurrection to eternal life is for sure. It is certain. Jesus will do it. He promises. He is the firstfruits of those that sleep because, “He is not here. He has risen.”
In the Name of Jesus.