Monday, April 9, 2012

“Jesus on the Grave” 9th in sermon series Places of the Passion (John 19:38-42)

S-1311 Easter Sunday/3B 4/08/12 Hymns: (O) 199; 193; 200; (S) #201; L.S. 204; 208; 210; (C) 32 SOD

Text: Ps. 118:1-9, 15-24; Jer. 31:12; Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8;

Theme: “Jesus on the Grave” 9th in sermon series Places of the Passion (John 19:38-42)

Question: “Have you buried someone in a grave?” Armour, SD.

(There will be a casket at the front of the church as the service begins)

In the name of the Risen Christ, Amen. The text for the Resurrection Sunday is from the Gospel Lesson: “After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away His body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there” (John 19:38-42).

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! Today, we conclude our sermon series on the Places of the Passion at the Grave site of Him who was crucified for the sins of the world—Jesus the Christ, the heaven-sent Savior and Lamb of God.

After twelve years as a church organist, Cathy Norman did the almost unforgiveable thing, she overslept on Easter morning. The church service was scheduled for 6:30 AM. At 6:31 AM the pastor called to see if she was on her way – but she was still in bed. She lived near the church, however, and in ten minutes was seated at the organ. The following Easter her phone rang at 5:45 AM. When she answered, she heard the familiar voice of her pastor: “Christ is risen! And you’d better, too!” (7700 Illus., # 2783)

A little boy was always stealing things. So momma took him everywhere to get help but nothing seemed to work. Finally, she took Johnny to the pastor. She sat in the outer room while Johnny went in to the pastor’s study. After a long time the pastor asked, “Johnny, do you know where God is?” The boy bolted from the room, looked at his mother and said, “I’m getting out of here! God’s missing and they’re trying to blame that on me, too!” (Emph., Mar., ’91)

We might laugh and muse at the above illustrations. But it was no laughing matter to those few followers who stood beneath the cross on Friday. They had heard Him say: “IT IS FINISHED!!!” And, that He was dead. In the minds of some confused women, and confused disciples, the Son of God, their Savior was missing. On Friday, they had hurried to get Jesus’ body down from the cross and into the grave.

As our text tells us, Joseph of Arimathea who was part of the Jewish council came and asked Pilate for His body. Nicodemus, too, brought spices and the women did their best in preparing His body before sunset and laid His cold dead body in the grave with the intention of going there on Sunday to complete the work.

You can about imagine their broken hearts and spirits on Friday night. All their hopes have been dashed. Their Rabbi, Teacher and Lord is dead. Their eyes are wet with tears. There is an emptiness and void in their lives. Their dreams and aspiration all left and they are fearful of what the future may hold. PAUSE.

Perhaps you know that empty feeling too. You have stood by the side of your loved one as he/she was lowered to the grave. You felt your heart stop beating and your lungs stop breathing. You have felt the void and emptiness that came over you. Tears wet your cheeks, a lump is felt in your throat; and darkness envelope your sight. And you wonder about the future and how will you face tomorrow.

That is how the women felt. That is how Joseph of Arimathia and Nicodemus felt. That is how Mary His mother felt. That is how His disciples felt. And that is how many of His other followers felt.

But that was Friday and today is Sunday. As the old preacher said so well “Its Friday, but Suuuuunday’s coming.” Early on that first Sunday the women hurried to the grave intending to finish preparing Jesus’ lifeless body, only to find the great stone that had covered the grave had been rolled away by the angel. Now before them stood this dark, cold, grave, EMPTY. Now what? PAUSE.

With Sunday new hope is born to these women at the words of the angel that greeted them saying: Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him (Mk. 16:16). All of a sudden life had new meaning. Death has been swallowed up in victory. The Words of their Lord and Savior, which He spoke often, that He would be raised on the third day, had become alive in their broken and battered hearts. Light shined brighter than ever. The darkness of Friday has been replaced with the Light of Sunday and the glorious hope of the resurrection.

The grave is now open. The grave is empty and Christ is alive. Friday all hope seemed gone, but today hope is alive and well. Friday, hearts were filled with tears, but today their hearts dance with joy. Friday, fear enveloped them but today, courage and confidence is born anew. The cross of Good Friday has led us to the empty grave this morning. The body of our lifeless Lord is no longer in the grave. That is because we no longer have a lifeless Lord. No, our Lord is alive!

I will tell you, that I have stood at the grave site with many a family and their eyes were tinted with tears and sadness, but at the same time joy and gladness. That joy and gladness is found in Him who promised that those who die in Him shall rise again, have an eternity with Him. And with that promise they long for the glorious reunion that awaits all who put their faith and hope in Him alone.

As God’s sons and daughters, we realize that many people in the 21st century would say that He couldn’t have survived a Roman whipping, a crucifixion and a stab through the heart. Indeed, he didn’t and couldn’t because He died. But there is more, that they don’t and won’t address. Though He was in the grave, though He was dead; yet on the third day, the crucified Son of God and Man, defied physics and gravity and burst forth out of the grave. THIS IS OUR MESSAGE. Jesus is no longer in the grave, He is alive forever more. HE IS RISEN INDEED!

(Now come down to the casket and open it) On this glorious Easter morning, as your pastor, I am privileged to share with you the mighty deeds of the Savior of the world. But this means nothing unless He is YOUR Divine Savior. The One who has destroyed death, the One who has done away with Satan and the One who has done it all for you—paid for your salvation by His own life. When He is YOUR Savior, He gives you a promise. In baptism you are promised that a day will come when YOUR casket like this one will be empty. Because of Jesus, death is not a permanent thing!

Today, we stand at the grave, no longer occupied, but empty because Christ FINISHED YOUR salvation and redemption and reconciliation. What joy it is for us to be here today to hear again the glorious announcement of the angel, “He is not here, He is Risen as He said!” And thus, we, who stood at Golgotha on that Friday and saw our Lord’s death and His body being placed in the grave, stand here and now shout the shout of victory: HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA! AMEN!


Now the peace…


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