Jesus Is Alive Like No Other
P: Alleluia, Christ Is Risen!
C: He Is Risen, Indeed. Alleluia!
P: Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jesus Christ is risen from the dead; He is risen indeed. After forty days in Lent with no “Alleluias”, we sang the Alleluia verse for the first time again to usher in the Gospel reading of this Resurrection morning.
Mary Magdalene, who went to the tomb that Sunday morning, did not expect it to be empty. She was going there to anoint with spices the deceased body of her Lord. The disciples, Peter and John (John is the “disciple whom Jesus loved” – meaning, “He even loved a sinner like me”) - Peter and John did not expect an empty tomb either – “for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise from the dead.”
Yet Scripture now says that if Christ were not risen, our faith would be in vain [1 Corinthians 15:14]. God’s people of old visited and took care of the tombs of their loved ones, just as you might visit or leave flowers at the gravestones of those you love. When you visit the gravestone of a loved one, what do you expect? We know what to expect - we know the condition and the state of our deceased loved ones; and what we expect is what is there – dust, decay, buried under the ground.
Jesus Christ alone is risen and is alive like no one else.
We know the condition and the state of those who have died in the faith – Scripture refers to them as those who have “fallen asleep”. Rest. Body in the ground, back to the dust. Soul separate from the body and returned to God. Not so anymore with Jesus.
Jesus’ body rested in His grave for one day, Holy Saturday, and His soul, like all who die, was departed from His body – Jesus rested from all His work on that seventh day of the week; but now His rest is done, and He works forevermore.
We confess many things about Jesus Christ – truths that are central to our faith. We confess that Jesus Christ is both true God and true Man, yet one person. We confess that Christ was born of a Virgin mother. We confess that Christ was born under the Law and lived a sinless, perfect life. We confess that Jesus Christ was obedient to God the Father unto death, even death on a Cross. We confess that He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. That He descended into Hell to proclaim His victory. We confess that Jesus did all of this, not on His own behalf, but on behalf of each of you here – and on behalf of all.
And we confess with certainty that, on the Sunday after His crucifixion, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. We confess that He did not arise as a mere living spirit or soul, but that His resurrection is a bodily resurrection. We confess that Jesus is alive again in flesh and blood and bone – risen alive even with the trophy marks of His wounds in the alive-again-flesh of His hands and feet and side.
My loved ones’ bones and remains are buried in the ground here and there, in this place and that. The bones and remains of Mary Magdalen, Peter, and John - and of the many saints of old - are buried, entombed, or scattered here and there – bits of bone and dust scattered around the world. Jesus Christ Alone Is Alive Like No Other.
Jesus is the one who lives for you. Jesus Christ alone is risen with ears, and eyes, and mouth intact - to watch over you, to hear you, to speak. His feet, His hands, His legs, His arms, His mouth, ears, eyes, and all His members are risen to walk and stand and listen and speak for your sake. Jesus is your loved one like no other – His grave site is empty – He lives for you.
Death has done its worst to many whom we love, the oldest and the youngest. Death has now done its worst to Mary Magdalene, Peter, and John, and many others. We give thanks that these, who died in the faith, all now have rest from their labors and that their souls live before God. Yet we do not put our hope in any of them - not even in our loved ones. Instead, Jesus Christ, risen-and-alive, is our hope for them and for us.
Because Jesus Christ now lives, you and they too shall live. You and they shall live like Him who now lives like no other. Your eternal life, brothers and sisters, and the eternal life of all who believe and are baptized [Mark 16:16], is not an eternal life as a living spirit or soul. Your eternal life is the eternal life of your body - the eternal life of your body with its soul. Just as Christ is risen, you too shall arise – flesh, bone, blood, and soul.
Easter means that the grave is conquered and your now-dying-body too will one day live again – your body will finally be alive like it never has been before. On that day, your arms and legs and feet and backs and hands and shoulders and eyes and ears and mouths will live again just the same as Jesus lives now – no more suffering; only life.
Because Jesus now lives like no one else, we celebrate Easter with great joy. Yet, Easter is a bit of a strange name for this holiday – there’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just a name that has stuck over time – and I happily tell people, “Blessed Easter” around this time of year. But, often, we instead call this day, “The Resurrection of Our Lord Sunday” – which is a little long. So, maybe just, “Resurrection Sunday”.
However, the more ancient name for this holiday, in the church, is what? “Pascha”. “Pascha”, or “Pasch”, is the oldest name for Easter. Easter was called “Pascha” in the earliest years of the Church, and, in the Greek speaking world, today’s holiday is still called “Pascha”.
What does “Pascha” mean? “Pascha” is the Greek word for “Passover”. From the earliest days of the Church, this celebration of our Lord’s resurrection was remembered by the word “Passover”.
But what was Passover? Passover was the day that the Passover lamb was sacrificed. Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb – the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. So, interestingly enough, this great celebration of our Lord’s resurrection to life is name according to the day of His death. The celebration of this holiday is named according to His great sacrifice for you. He forever lives as the One who died for you. He lives like no one else.
Christ now lives forever to forever point your eyes back to that great Pasha, that great sacrifice, He made to give you life. The Man who is now Alive Like No One Else died For Sinners. Which means He now lives for the guilty – to forgive.
Jesus Christ, Risen from the Dead, now Lives Like No Other. He Lives to be Savior, Forgiver, and Shepherd of Lost Sinners Who Want to Live. Amen.
P: Alleluia, Christ Is Risen!
C: He Is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!
P: Now may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.