How to Use the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Easter 1 Sunday

Matthew 28:5-6

“But the angel said to the women: “Fear not! I know that you seek Jesus, the crucified. He is not here. He has risen, as he said. Come and see the place where the Lord lay.””

 

These things happened on the holy Easter Day with the revelation of our dear Lord Christ, as one can gather from the evangelists. And it is, therefore, necessary to know them well. For this is an article of our faith on which very much depends, as we shall hear. But it is not enough to know the history. We must also learn how it serves us and how we should use it. This use and benefit we now want to address as well a little bit. For even if one were to preach about it daily for an entire year, no one can preach about it enough, no one can learn it well enough; it is such a rich subject matter. But if we want to grasp the use of the resurrection of our Lord Christ, we must contemplate two different images: There is the sad, miserable, shameful, pitiful, bloody image we heard about on Good Friday: Christ hangs there among the murderers and dies in great pain. Such images, as you, dear friends, have heard, we should consider with a heart that does not doubt that all this took place on account of our sins: He, the true and eternal Priest, wanted to give himself as a sacrifice and pay for it by his death. For every person should know that his sins wounded and tortured Christ in this way and that Christ’s suffering is nothing but your and my sin. Therefore, as often as we remember such sad, bloody image, or contemplate it, we should think of nothing but that we see our sins there. Now, if such sad image were to remain in perpetuity, it would be very frightening. But just as we, in the creed, put these two articles together in the most exact way – Christ was crucified, died, buried, descended into hell, and rose again on the third day – so we see that this sad image does not remain for long. For before three days are over, our dear Lord Christ brings with him a different, beautify, healthy, friendly, joyful image. He does so that we may learn to grasp the comfort with certainty that not only are our sins destroyed and killed by Christ’s dying, but that we are to be righteous and saved forever by his resurrection, as St. Paul says to the Romans, Romans 4:25: “Christ was handed over on account of our sins and raise for the sake of our righteousness.” And in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19, he said: “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins, and those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. And we are the most wretched people of all if we hope in Christ only in this life.” For just as previously sin hung around his neck and nailed him to the cross, so you now see no sin in him anymore in the second image; you only see righteousness. You do not see pain or sadness, but only joy; no death, but only life – an eternal life that is far, far above this temporal life. We should justly rejoice in this second image. To be sure, contemplating the first image outwardly is certainly something terrible. But when we consider the reason behind it, we should not wish anything else. For there you see that God took your sins from you – they were too heavy for you and would have crushed you – and placed them on his son who is the eternal God and strong enough for sin. Leave your sin on him. You will not be able to find a better place for them where they neither burden you nor weigh you down. Then also contemplate this other image in which you see how your Lord Christ, who previously was in such horrible and miserable shape because of your sin, is now beautiful, pure, glorious, and joyful; you also see that all sin has disappeared from him. Continue your conclusions: Since your sins are not in you because of Christ’s suffering, but were taken away from you by God himself and placed on Christ, and since they, on today’s Easter Day after his resurrection, also are no longer in Christ – where will they be? Is it not true that, as the prophet Micah said, Micah 7:19, they were cast into the deepest part of the sea where neither the devil nor any creature are to find them?

 

St. Louis ed., 13.1:510-512.

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