Resurrection of Our Lord
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God our Father and His only Son, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
A trope is a literary term which uses figurative language for artistic effect. The word is also used to describe commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices. The latter definition may be more familiar to you.
A common example is one that I find really annoying. It is used most often in movies and television programs. The opening scene in the film or show is some sort of dramatic or suspenseful highpoint which causes many questions about what is happening. It is as if the viewer was dropped into the middle of the story without any lead-up to the situation.
The scene then fades out and a new picture is presented with a title saying, “Two weeks earlier” It is a flashback used to inform the viewer how the previous scene came to be. I find it very irritating. It is almost like reading the end of the book before the first page is read.
Today we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord. This is the day where we recount the culmination of God’s saving work. Hear the Gospel of St. Luke:
“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?’” [Luke 24:1-5]
Quite exciting, isn’t it? If a person were to hear or read this paragraph, without any knowledge of how or why this situation exists, they would begin to ask the questions of ‘who?’, ‘why?’, ‘how?’ and maybe others.
To answer these questions, we must first view another scene – 8,000 years earlier!
In the beginning, God’s creation was good and perfect. God’s most valued possession was His creation of man and woman. These creatures were more valued than the beasts of the earth, the creatures of the seas and the waters, or the birds of the air.
The world was perfect… then came the fall into temptation. Adam and Eve, the first humans, the good creation of God, were tempted by Satan to doubt the true and holy word of God. The cunning serpent put that doubt in the mind of Eve when he said to her, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” [Gen 3:1b]
From that moment on, human beings had the knowledge of good and evil. From that moment so long ago, we knew what sin was; and it infected our hearts and minds. The very fact that we know we sin influences every part of our being. Some may wish to deny their sin and, in this way, they define their faith based on a lie, which forms the structure of their relationship with He who is the opposite of falsehood, the One True and Only God.
The Adversary of all humankind has played a good trick. By pulling on one thread, a teasing little doubt, he has caused our very lives to unravel. Through our sin, what was written in our hearts and minds by our Creator is now jumbled up in a tangled snarl on the ground and we stand naked, stripped of our faith.
We try to knit ourselves back into what God had originally created. We think we are helping by stitching in patches of worldly wisdom. If something does not fit quite right or is not fashionable to our friends and neighbors, with our human made scissors, we cut it out.
We design the pattern we wish to see and we knit our faith into what we wish it to be. By its very definition, this is a mistake.
We live in constant frustration, working to make the fabric of our lives whole so that we may present ourselves as a living garment of beauty and grace. The only problem, and the one great defining barrier to our self-salvation, is that we can never perfect ourselves before death crushes the life from our hands and hearts.
What are we to do? Where are we to go? In whom should we trust?
Sadly, those who do not know of the saving work of our Lord, Jesus Christ, are defined by sin instead of by love. The world calls it something else. The world calls it enlightenment, evolution, or the next step in the advancement of humankind.
The truth is; we are not getting better but worse. We hide within the walls of our own self-righteousness and self-importance. We cannot believe in the truth so we disbelieve everything. Somehow, this makes us feel emotionally consistent and in control. The truth is; we are sick in our sin.
Like a sick person confined to the sickbed, we cannot heal or take care of ourselves. We drift in and out with brief moments of consciousness where we view the sunshine through a dim window. If only our health could be restored. If only the illness could be lifted. If only our life could be returned to what it once was… in the beginning.
This is the meaning of the verb, resurrect. To resurrect means to restore life. To be lifted out of our illness, to be brought back into the light, we must be resurrected. No one can resurrect himself or herself. No one can heal from death. We cannot resuscitate our bodies by wishful thinking. It takes the work of someone other than us to bring us back to life.
This is Easter Sunday, the day in which we celebrate and give thanks for the Resurrection of Our Lord. If you only come to church on Christmas and Easter, you have certainly picked the most important days, other than your baptism, to be present. For without Christmas there would be no Easter. Without the incarnation of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, there could be no death upon the cross as payment for our sin. Without the death of the only man innocent of sin, there could be no resurrection of the only true Christ and true victory over death.
Christ rising from the dead is a new thing. He laid down his life and he raised it up again. By definition, Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life. By his resurrection, no longer will we weep and be accursed. No more shall we labor in vain or bring forth children to suffer. [Isaiah 65: 19, 20, 23]
In both the Concise Oxford English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the first definition for the word Resurrection is – the rising of Christ from the dead. How about that? Even the wisdom of mortals professes Christ as Lord!
“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” [Luke 24:1-6a]
Yes, he has risen indeed! His victory over death is our victory as well. By his death, we have been healed and by his resurrection, we have been redeemed.
While we live in this world, we suffer and we sin. We become so sick that we cannot raise ourselves out of our deathbed, but do not be afraid, for we have hope. Do not fear to fall asleep, for we have someone who says, “I’ll always be there when you wake.” “...in fact,” as the Apostle Paul tells us, “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”[1 Cor. 15:20]
The last enemy has been destroyed. Death no longer has authority or power over us. Jesus Christ will always be there when we wake. He will stand for us as the second definition of Resurrection is fulfilled, the rising of the dead at the Last Judgment.
God has surely created a new life for His people through the Resurrection of His Only Son. We are His people, a people of joy.
He is risen indeed, Alleluia!