TITLE: He goes ahead of you!
THEME: Jesus’ resurrection – the immovable foundation of Christian Hope and Christian Life.
(1) Christ’s resurrection – the foundation for the hope of our own eventual resurrection to eternal life.
- Christ’s resurrection – the foundation for the life we live until our own blessed death.
PRAYER: All glory, laud and honor be to You our heavenly Father – for you have given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Hear our prayer and send us Your Holy Spirit that through the hearing of Your Word, we would be strengthened and built up in the knowledge of your Son’s glorious resurrection and by given hope for our own eventual resurrection from the dead so that we may live as your faithful and faith-filled followers as we await that day. Cause your Spirit to enliven this hope in all who are here so that at the conclusion of our blessed feast, all of us may glorify you in word and deed and be reunited in the life in the world to come. This we pray in the Name and for the sake of your Son our Lord, Jesus Christ, the One who has overcome for us sin and the grave. AMEN.
Dear fellow believers in our Lord’s resurrection!
The verdict has been pronounced. The judge has spoken. The shifting foundations upon which our Lord was put to death have been silenced – and He has emerged victorious over sin, over death, and over the grave. There can be no doubt that Christ’s Words and Promises are certain and true. He who was dead, is alive.
The grave was unable to keep Him. The large stone sealed with the official government seal behind which He lay could not keep Him in. Early on that Easter morning, our Lord Jesus took up again the life which He lay down and He exited the tomb.
Angels, then, descended from heaven to remove the heavy stone and cast it aside so that all the world would have an immovable and unshakable foundation upon which to build true hope and a blessed life.
Therefore, as we once again consider the events of that first Easter, let us consider how:
The resurrection of Jesus is the immovable foundation of Christian Hope and Christian Life.
And see how:
 Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation for the hope of our own eventual bodily resurrection to eternal life, and
 Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation for the life we live until our own blessed death.
Dear friends, consider how meaningless and purposeless it would be if we were born into this world, lived for a time, and that was it. Nothing more was to come. Consider how terrifying death would be if we knew it meant that we would utterly cease to exist – that the sufferings and trials and difficulties we experience in this world were all there was and that the pain and suffering of death was the final thing we would experience.
This is how some people view the world. They believe there is nothing after this life and our death.
Then there are others, who believe there is a life to come, but do not know how they will live that life. Will it be everlasting blessedness, or eternal torment, pain and suffering. How horrifying to be in the throws of death and be uncertain if that is how you are condemned to spend eternity, with the fear and dread that accompanies that painful hour. There are, in fact, many who will faithfully be in attendance this very day in churches in our community that teach it is damnable sin to believe you can be certain of your salvation – and still others teach the false doctrine that you may believe yourself saved but you are deceived, and God has elected from all eternity that you are damned.
Beloved in Christ Jesus, the events of that first Easter in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead, provide us an immovable foundation upon which to rest our hope of our own blessed resurrection to eternal life. It confirms the truth of Jesus’ words and the promises He made during His ministry. “Because I live, you also will live,” said our Lord. And the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus confirm and seal this promise to you. He lives!
The one who was dead, pierced through the heart so that blood and water flowed – the One who bled and died, has now Risen from the dead. And because HE lives, you, also, will live.
This is the joy and comfort that the words of the angelic messenger in our text were meant to provide. The one who went before us into death has now gone before us in resurrection.
And by that resurrection from the dead, we can be certain of a number of things. FIRST – we can be certain that our debt to sin has been paid. The LAMB of GOD who takes away the SIN of the WORLD has been released from death – therefore there is no outstanding debt to sin. The sins of the WORLD have been paid through His suffering and His death. SECOND – Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the empty tomb, shows forth the fact that we have been reconciled to God. God’s wrath and anger over our sin has been appeased. If Christ’s body remained in the tomb, it would be impossible to believe that death had lost its sting and the grave was not victorious. And THIRD – Jesus’ resurrection gives us a means by which we can claim this truth for ourselves. We have an historical event to which we can point. We have an immovable foundation upon which to openly mock death and the grave and say, “Death, where is your sting? Grave, where is your victory?” Jesus’ resurrection and the empty tomb prove that the bonds of death have been broken – the grave cannot maintain it’s hold.
And what is true for Jesus is not true for Him only, but also for all who are connected to Him. Do you not know that all of you who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we have knowledge and certainty, as those who have been baptized by water and the Word, that our grave will one-day be empty. Just as the tomb into which they laid Jesus was merely a temporary resting place for His body – The grave is a temporary resting place for our bodies – a place for them to remain until Christ, in His resurrected body, returns on the clouds as He promised. On that day, He promises to awaken us from our slumber – raise our bodies and transform these lowly bodies to be like His glorious body – restored – renewed – reinvigorated to the praise and honor of His Name.
THIS is the promise and hope that rests on the immovable foundation of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
And this hope and promise also provides a sure anchor – an immovable foundation as we live here in this great “in between” time. It gives us comfort and security as we live now, awaiting our blessed death in Jesus, and our glorious resurrection to eternal life with Him.
Jesus sought to give this same comfort and hope to His disciples when He told them, “after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” They were to expect it. Jesus’ resurrection was to be the foundation on which their expectation to see Jesus again rested. And He gave them a sure and certain place where that would be.
Jesus knew those days would be difficult. He knew that the disciples would be confused and confounded by those events. He knew that they would still be fearful and uncertain, worried and confused – just as we often are as we live in this world. He knew that they would not understand everything that was happening. And so He gave them a sure and certain promise which rested upon the fact of His resurrection, “after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee, there you will see me.”
So many in our day don’t know where to find Jesus. They try to find Him in their heart and their feelings, but these are fickle and uncertain. When things are easy and we are comfortable – we forget that it is our good and gracious God who keeps and preserves us – and so we fail to thank and praise Him as we ought. When the things of life seem to go against us, we are deceived into thinking God is nowhere to be found – that we are on our own – OR – we believe God is everywhere and He is out to get us and destroy us because we know and feel our own sin and our own unworthiness to be called His children.
When the world rages and overflows with fury because we dare to speak God’s word of law that uncovers sin, we often back down, fearful for our lives, our livelihood, and our comfort and security.
You know these feelings, don’t you? The feeling of apathy at God’s goodness and graciousness? The feeling of fear at His wrath and anger over your sin? The desire for comfort and peace and security that leads to inaction and quietness in the things of God in your daily life?
It’s times like these when we want to run and hide as the disciples did in the upper room.
But Jesus’ resurrection is the firm footing upon which we stand and be raised up out of fear and dread and doubt. It not only assures us of His promise, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also,” but His resurrection gives us a sure and immovable foundation upon which to know and trust where He will meet us here on earth – to strengthen us, to teach us, and to continuously deliver to us His forgiveness and mercy.
“Wherever two or three are gathered in my Name,” says Jesus, “There I am in the midst of them.” The resurrection guarantees that as we gather in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is present among us, just as He promised – to care for us in the midst of this life as we walk through this valley of the shadow of death.
Jesus’ resurrection is the immovable foundation upon which we can be certain that we hear His voice, as He said, “MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE AND THEY FOLLOW ME.” Because the Lord told His disciples, “He who hears you, hears me!”
Jesus has caused the Apostles’ word to come to us – to be read in our gatherings – even to be in a book in our homes so that we can be comforted and sustained in every time of need by His Word because He has the Words of Eternal Life!
It is upon the foundation of the Resurrection that we can be certain that His body which we eat and His blood which we drink under the bread and wine truly offers to us the forgiveness of sins that He won when He sacrificed them on the cross of Calvary.
All of this rests on the immovable foundation of the historical fact of the empty tomb – because all of this rests on the sure and certain promises which were confirmed, on the third day, when He rose from the dead, early in the morning.
Dearly beloved, as we contemplate this day of resurrection, we are assured and given a sure foundation for our faith – an historical fact – a reality upon which we can confidently trust everything that our Lord Jesus has taught us about His salvation and our New Life in Him.
Are we not most fortunate and blessed people? Is there any reason to rest our feet, even for a moment, on the love of sin and the desires of the flesh? Is it not far better to build on the foundation which Christ Jesus has laid by His resurrection from the dead – a foundation that gives you new life – free from your captivity to sin – free from your need to live according to your own desires?
Perhaps you are now saying, “YES! That is far better, but I am still weak, I am unable to remain on this foundation, I am unable to build on this foundation, it is hopeless!”
Blessed are you, if this is your worry. For this, itself, is proof that you are a true child of God through Christ Jesus.
The Lord of life, who rose from the grave, has the keys of death and Hades in His hands. And He has promised, “I give them eternal life and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” It is only His strength and power that will keep your feet firmly planted on the foundation that He has laid.
Therefore, Look to His empty grave and trust in Him. He who was dead and now lives and He who rose victorious over the grave has begun the good work of faith in you and He, by His omnipotent power, will complete it. And you can be sure and certain, because the tomb is empty and He has risen from the dead.
Alleluia, Christ IS Risen!
He is Risen indeed. Alleluia!
In the Name of Jesus. AMEN.