Monday, March 25, 2013

Easter Changes Everything: Thoughts on Easter Day

Easter is a moveable feast. Easter isn't on the same calendar date every year in the way that Christmas is always celebrated on December 25. The date for Easter each year always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox (March 21). And once you find the date of Easter, everything else finds its place. Once you know the date for Easter, you the know the date for Good Friday and Maundy Thursday, you know the date for Ash Wednesday and the Transfiguration, you know the date for the Ascension of our Lord and Pentecost.

All this is a long way of saying that Easter determines everything. Easter defines everything. It orders not only the entire church year, when this feast or that is to be celebrated, but it orders our very lives. It defines and gives meaning to our lives, as well to the things that happen in our lives. For since Easter defines everything, that means it changes everything too. It redefines who we are and where we stand with God and with one another.

Easter changes everything. For without Easter, death would still reign, we would still be in our trespasses and sins, and our faith and hope would be in vain. For without Easter, Jesus is not raised from the dead. But Jesus is raised from the dead. Therefore, darkness is overcome with light. Wrath with peace. Fear with hope. Angst with rest. Sadness with joy. Hatred with love. Sin with righteousness. And death with life. Easter changes everything, redefines everything, determines everything.

And yet, why is it the case that it doesn't always seem that way? Why do our loved ones still die? Why do we still sin? Why are we still afraid of our future and tormented by our past? Why are we still filled with angst and sadness?

It is because we, like the women who go to the tomb searching for Jesus, are looking in the wrong place. And so the angel says to the women at the tomb: "You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. . . . Why do you seek the living among the dead?" It is as if the angel said: "You are searching for the right thing, but you are looking in the wrong place." "Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise. And they remembered his words."

Our problem is that in our search for the right things, we look in the wrong place. We ask the wrong questions, and therefore, we get the wrong answers. We look to our works, our experience, our feelings, our history as the keys that hold the answers to our future. But the answers to our deepest questions are not to be found in us. This is the wrong place, perhaps even the wrong questions.

The answers are to be found in the Lord's Words. Remember how he told you. Remember what he said and how he promised. This is what is sure and certain and true. Only in light of the Lord's Word do we find the right answer. And what does the Lord say? "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die."Those who trust in the Jesus, who cling to His Word and His Work, have the answers. He is the resurrection and the life. Though he was crucified and died, yet does He live. And everything He said is now seen in light of that, in light of the fact that He is raised from the dead. Easter changes everything, defines everything, determines everything.

And so it is that the Temple that was torn down has been rebuilt in three days. The sign of Jonah has been given. The bright Morning Star, with healing in His wings, has risen on high. He, who was crucified for our transgressions, has been raised for our justification. The Father has accepted the sacrifice. Heaven and earth are reconciled, God is at peace with mankind. It has been declared publicly that we are redeemed, reconciled, pure, innocent and perfect in Christ. The words spoken in death ring out with life, “It is finished.” Indeed, it is finished! Easter changes everything because Christ is raised from the dead.

The mouth of death, that is, the tomb, is empty. It’s been silenced and there is now no one left to accuse you. The First-born from the dead has come forth. The pledge and promise of your own resurrection has been given. The chains of sin and the bonds of death are broken and you are set free. The devil is your slave master no more, for he has met his own Master. The stronger man has come and overpowered him. Freedom, peace, and life are here. Easter changes everything because Christ is raised from the dead.  

On the cross Jesus was clothed with your sins, wrapped with your wickedness, but those grave clothes are left in the tomb, your sin is buried and remains in the tomb. All of God’s anger is spent on Jesus. There is now no more for you: No more wrath, no more destruction, no more threats, no more punishments, no more condemnation. All of that is spent on Jesus. All of it, gone. Easter changes everything because Christ is raised from the dead. 

Christ is raised from the dead. Death is dead, and your sin is no more, as far from you as the East is from the West.  And today, the Son of man who is crucified but risen, is delivered into the hands of sinful men, and not just into their hands, but also into their ears and their mouths. Remember what He told you. Take eat; take drink, My Body and Blood to take away your sins, to give you eternal life and everlasting salvation. What is true of Him is true also of you. For He is in you and you in Him.  He is the resurrection and the life. Christ is raised from the dead. And so also shall you. For Easter changes everything, determines everything, defines everything. Easter changes and defines you. 

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