Resurrection Sunday: Early Easter Service

The Lord is Risen

Romans 6:3-11
Matthew 28:1-10
Psalm 114

Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We know that he rosed bodily from the dead in many ways. The world changed: art, culture, education, government, literature, and music. Anyone who has seriously studied world history cannot escape this fact. Fortunately, we have eyewitness accounts of the resurrection:

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, `He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Mary Magdalene was a woman who loved Jesus so much as to follow him to the cross when many of his disciples deserted him. The disciples of Jesus did not want to believe her at first. when she said that “Jesus has risen.” They needed to see Jesus alive for themselves. Jesus made good on his promise. A group of downtrodden disciples, against all odds, overcoming massive resistance and persecution, birthed a Church that has offered a life-changing experience for believers down to this day.

The Apostle Paul had a life-changing experience. He was once the Pharisee Saul who persecuted the Church. His whole life changed after he had an encounter with the risen Lord. Perhaps the greatest missionary of the Christian faith, he wrote the following:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Today we celebrate two resurrections. The resurrection of Jesus is also our resurrection, provided that we are united to him. And how are we united? We are united by the cross. It is there that Jesus gave up himself on our behalf.

Paul wrote:

Let the same mind be in you that was[a] in Christ Jesus,

who, though he existed in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be grasped,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    assuming human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a human,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

Therefore God exalted him even more highly
    and gave him the name
    that is above every other name,
so that at the name given to Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.   (Philippians 2:5-11)

Are we willing to give all of ourselves to Jesus each day? If so, today is surely a resurrection day for us all. We are united with him and we share in his victory over sin, Hell, and death.

Halleluiah, we have risen with Christ Jesus!

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Filed under Easter, Easter Sunday, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Resurrection Sunday, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year A

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