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A Certain Hope (John 20:1-18)

Resurrection of Our Lord – Sunrise

“A Certain Hope”

St. John 20.1-18; Isaiah 25.6-9; 1 Corinthians 15.1-11

21 April 2019

Seminarian Simeon Cornwell, Vicar

+ In the Name of Jesus +

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Today we celebrate the very foundation of our faith as Christians; the Resurrection of our Lord. For without it, Christianity would be a farce.

Without it, all of Jesus’ teaching, life, suffering, and death would be meaningless. He would have just been another failed religious leader.

Without it all your fasting this Lenten season, if you did so, would have been pointless. Without it your attendance at extra services during the week would have been a huge waste of time.

Especially if you attended any services from Maundy Thursday through Easter Vigil. And if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, you being here right now would be foolish. After all, it’s 730am on a Sunday morning!

For if Christ has not been raised from the dead, then, as St. Paul says, we are still in our sins and we are among all people most to be pitied.

If Christ didn’t rise, you would have been better off sleeping in this morning. You could have indulged your stomach a bit more over the past six weeks. And think of all you could have gotten done with that extra hour every Wednesday evening.

But Christ has been raised from the dead. And this Resurrection is unlike that of Lazarus or the widow’s son at Nain. For both of these died once again.

Jesus’ Resurrection is not temporary. Rather His Resurrection is never-ending. Jesus did not rise and then die again. Nor will He ever die again.

His Resurrection proves to us that Life has won the victory over death. That the Father has accepted this sacrifice of His body for our sins. That, as Isaiah says, “death has been swallowed up forever.”

Death, that dark veil that was cast over all men since the Fall into sin. This is done away with.

And Christ’s Resurrection does not just give us hope after death, but also allows us to experience this new life now. Right here. Today. It’s why we can celebrate this fact here in time and do so every Sunday.

For that great enemy of mankind, Satan, has been defeated through Christ’s death and now death, thinking that it had simply another victim in it’s grasp, has been eliminated.

Luther explains this beautifully in his Easter hymn: “It was a strange and dreadful strife when life and death contended. The victory remained with life, the reign of death was ended.”

Death is destroyed. Swallowed up forever by life. By our Lord.

Death, that great leveler of all mankind. Death, which comes to every man. No matter how great he seems in the eyes of the world. No matter how rich he may be or however popular he is.

It comes to all people and the world has no solution for it.

Frantically it searches for aid against this enemy. Whether it be in the latest fad diets which promise to add years to your life or movements such as Transhumanism, set on one day eliminating suffering and death forever.

Yet all of these pursuits will fail, since the only solution, the only Victor over death is Christ Himself.

This does not mean that as Christians in this life we get to bypass suffering and death. For we must follow where our Lord leads.

There will indeed be suffering and death. For if Christ had not died, how could He have risen from the dead?

But in that same regard, if Christ had merely died and did not rise, why should we care to listen to Him?

Our faith would be in vain, just like any other religion or promise of man to do away with death and suffering.

No, Christ doesn’t promise a perfect life. He doesn’t promise there will be no suffering. And we all will still have to experience death on this side of eternity.

But He does promise that in Him, Life will get the last say. He does promise that because He, our Captain, has gone before us into battle against this great enemy, our victory is certain.

In fact this is why, if you attended any services from Maundy Thursday through Holy Saturday, you would have noticed there was no benediction until after Easter Vigil. After the declaration that Christ has risen.

Because while there is suffering and death in the life of the Christian, these don’t have the final say. For Christ did not just suffer and die. He also rose.

For this reason, even in our suffering we can have hope. A hope which will come to full fruition in eternity.

This hope, this life may be difficult at times to perceive, especially if the sufferings we are going through are great. But know it will come to pass that Christ one day will wipe away these tears from our eyes.

And for this reason, we can rejoice in the midst of such suffering. Regardless of the fact that we are surrounded by great evils and even death itself.

For this reason, we can await our Lord’s return with a certain hope. Certain because we see that Christ has risen from the dead, the firstfruits of all Christians who have and ever will fall asleep in death.

Certain because that same risen Lord will shortly give us His risen body and blood, giving us a sure pledge of this victory over death. Giving us a taste of that marriage feast to come. A sure pledge that Life, not death, has the last word.

So if you kept the fast this Lenten season, come rejoicing. If you failed at all in your fasting, come rejoicing. If you didn’t fast at all, come rejoicing.

Even if you have come today only and neglected this season of Lent, rejoice also. For the Lord calls all people to His feast of well-aged wine. The early as well as the late.

So rejoice and be glad this day! For Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

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