Sunday, April 8, 2007

God Makes an Investment in Life

The Resurrection of Our Lord
Easter Sunday
Sunday, April 8, 2007
Luke 24:1-12

There’s three people I want to talk to you about today, none of whom are in the Gospel reading for today.

There’s quite a cast of characters in the Resurrection account. There’s the women, of course. They were faithfully carrying out their duties in tenderly caring for Jesus’ lifeless body. There were those angels that they met. Expecting to see Jesus, they saw angels instead; announcing that they wouldn’t find Jesus here after all. And then of course there were the disciples, dense as ever. Whaddaya mean, Jesus’ body wasn’t in the tomb? They thought the women were crazy. Peter, of course, had to find out for himself and could only go away from the tomb scratching his head.

But the first of the people we’re going to look at today is actually a group; and actually referred to by the angels when they spoke to the women: the Pharisees. The second is the main one in all of this: Jesus. The reason He’s not in the Resurrection account is because His followers were looking for Him in the wrong place. They were looking in the tomb so He had to go searching for them. The third we’ll come to in a bit.

The Pharisees tried to make the empty tomb of Jesus a crime scene. Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, His disciples stole His body so that they could tell people that He rose from the dead. This is who the Pharisees were. They made an investment in themselves and they weren’t going to let some preacher from Galilee rein in their power. They had to go to all costs to stop Him. And they actually were successful. They got Pilate to sentence Him to death. Their problems were all over.

You know what the three year ministry of Jesus was in many ways? It was an assault on the Pharisees. They were plump with their own self-righteousness. They were bloated with their own notions of what they needed in a god. Jesus came to tear all that down. And they knew it. That’s why they fought back. And it all ended in His lifeless body laying in that tomb.

Everybody knew it. That’s why the women went there on Sunday. That’s why the disciples didn’t even bother to get out of the house on Sunday, because it was all over, what was the point?

But there was one person who didn’t get the memo. And that was the one that everybody either was against or had given up on—Jesus Himself. He tossed off those linen bindings. He scorned that cave that had encased His lifeless body. He wasn’t sticking around where everybody thought He would remain.

Jesus’ assault on the Pharisees was an assault on death. Their delusion that they could stand in righteousness in themselves was really an investment in death. And that’s what Jesus was after. He would go to war against death even to His dying breath. Jesus could not sit idly by and watch the Pharisees destroy themselves eternally. So He attacked their notions of self-goodness and pride. Ultimately this came in His giving up His very own life. Not just to show what humility is all about. To take on Himself the punishment for our sins. Our pride. Our guilt. Our lack of being truly obedient to God.

God’s investment is in life, not death. To see what Jesus came to do we really need to take a hard look at those Pharisees. Because Jesus came to destroy them. He came to destroy them so that they could be raised to new life. We need to see that Peter and the disciples and the women, they were no better than the Pharisees. They did not put their hope in Jesus Christ, the one who died for their sins. They did not believe His Word, as the angels reminded them that He had spoken to them that He would die, but also rise.

We need to see this. And when we do we will see that the third person is you and me. We’re Pharisees. We don’t want Jesus coming around and putting us to death. We want Him to let us be ourselves. We don’t want Him to strip us of all our pride.

But God makes an investment in life, not death. His assault is on you because His assault is on death. He won’t sit idly by and watch you lose eternity because of you’re wanting an easy ride in this life. Don’t look for Him among the dead, in the darkness of your heart and your unclean thoughts. Look for Him among the living, in the clear waters of Baptism that washed over you. Don’t seek Him in the tomb of your false notions of pride and self-righteousness. Find Him in His Holy Supper, where He refreshes you with His Body and Blood.

Get rid of your investment in yourself. Stand back and marvel that the Lord of Creation has made an investment in life—He’s made an investment in you. Christ is no longer in the tomb. His investment has no end. Amen.


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