It is Impossible that this Image Should not Bring Joy

Easter 1 Monday

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.” “

 

This is the glorious, joyful article of our faith that alone makes Christians while it is ridiculed by the whole world and is violated and blasphemed by everyone, even those in the church. … City dwellers and country folk believe more out of habit that there is another life; they are not really serious about that belief, otherwise they would live accordingly and not be so concerned about this temporal life, food, honor, and other things instead of seeking things that are eternal. But no matter what we preach and say, reason considers it foolishness. This is how this article resists, being unwilling to sink deep into the hearts, although that would be necessary. But we who want to be true Christians, we should make this article quite certain in our hearts: Christ who bore our sin on the cross and paid for it by his death rose again from the dead for the sake of our righteousness. The more firmly we believe this in our heart, the more joy and comfort we will find. For it is impossible that this image should not bring joy to you: You now see Christ as a beautiful, pure, and healthy person who was so miserable and wretched before on account of your sin. For then you are certain that your sins are gone and no longer in existence. The fine, beautiful chants, in Latin and German, were made by the ancient Christians, e.g., the German chant, “Christ is arisen from the grave’s dark prison; we now rejoice with gladness; Christ will end all sadness” and the Latin Easter sequence, “Christians, to the Easter victim offer sacrifice and praise; the Lamb has redeemed the sheep; the innocent Christ has reconciled sinners to the Fathers; death and life clashed in a strange duel; the Duke of life, once dead, now reigns alive.” … No matter who wrote this chant, he must have had a high and Christian understanding that he depicts this image in such a fine and artful manner, how death attacked life, and how the devil, too, assaulted life. Now, Life, our Lord Jesus Christ, put up with it and allowed himself to be killed. But death did not succeed. For Life was eternal. Death did not see that behind the mortal body should be hidden an eternal might and divine power. Thus, death miscalculates the game and lays his hands on the person that, although it could not die, died nonetheless. The result was that the body was dead and was buried while the person remained alive. For we must note particularly that this person is at the same time dead in the body and alive eternally. Here death has done its worst and cannot advance any further. Now, since the person is alive and cannot remain in death, it comes forth again and subjects to itself death and everything that helped death – sin and the devil – and reigns in an eternal, new life, which sin, the devil, or death can no longer impair. This is a strange, unprecedented sermon reason cannot grasp, since it must be believed that Christ lives while he is dead, and that Christ is dead in such a way that death must die in him and lose all its might. But this is preached to us as comfort so that we should believe and learn that death lost all its power. For, God be forever praised, there is found finally such a man whom death assaults as all other men and whom it even kills, but in killing this man, death itself must die and be devoured, and the killed Christ shall live forever.

 

St. Louis ed., 13.1:512-513.

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