Sunday, March 23, 2008

What Are You Seeking?

The Resurrection of Our Lord
Easter Day
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Matthew 28:1-10

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said.”

Many of you here today know exactly what the Resurrection is all about. Some of you here today may wonder, what really is the big deal? Why do Christians make such a big deal out of Christmas and Easter?

But I imagine there are deeper questions you have. What does all of this commotion over Easter men for me? How is what happened two thousand years ago important for me today? When I go back to work tomorrow what impact will the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection have on me? We probably all want to know the answers to these questions, no matter how well-versed we are in the Biblical story of Jesus.

In this way, we are exactly like the women in the Gospel reading. We are seeking something, but it’s the wrong thing. Interestingly, even when it’s the right thing, it’s the wrong thing. They were seeking Jesus, after all. But the problem is that they were seeking Him not according to what He had said about Himself. That’s our problem, too. None of us here wants to hear this, but the reason we are seeking the wrong thing is that that’s what our sinful nature is prone to do.

What is our sinful nature? It is ourselves on our own. Think about what you most desire. Your deepest desire is your own satisfaction. All of you will come up with different ways to satisfy your desires, but it’s all the same. It’s centered around yourself. You are ultimately concerned with Numero Uno. You ultimately do not have your heart, soul, strength, and mind set on God. This is your sinful nature.

So whatever it is you’re seeking, when all is said and done, it’s not God. You listen to yourself rather than the Word of God. The women were going to the tomb. We all can readily see the sense of this, Jesus had died. They were there when He was buried. Now they were going to take care of the body. It was a loving act. They had loved Jesus and He knew that. But the problem was that they didn’t really believe in Him. They didn’t take Him at His Word. That’s why the angel said, “You’re looking for Him in a lifeless state, but He’s no longer dead. He is risen, just as He said.”

Maybe one of the reasons Jesus died on a cross was the visual symbol of a cross itself. The two beams of the cross form an intersection. In this way we have a visual image of the importance of the event in history. His suffering and death on the cross is the crossroads of history. One died on behalf of every person in history. The sinless Son of God suffering in the place of sinners.

And it is for this reason that Paul writes in the Bible: “We preach Christ crucified.” His suffering and death for the sin of the world is the Gospel. The most famous Bible verse tells this Gospel message clearly, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him should perish but have eternal life.” The word Gospel means “good news” and when we hear that God loved the world—He loved everyone, no matter who they are—we begin to see why it is Good News. Jesus died for everyone. Everyone is a sinner. Every person is the very person Jesus died for. That is why we preach Christ crucified.

That is why if we are going to seek true answers to all our questions, we must seek them in Christ. Specifically, in Christ crucified. The problem with the women seeking Jesus at the tomb is that they weren’t seeking Christ crucified but Christ crucified and dead. Christ was indeed crucified but He was also raised. He didn’t stay dead—He is alive. He is Christ crucified and risen.

Maybe all this still sounds a little theoretical to you. But whatever it is you’re seeking, this is why Christ came. Maybe you’re dealing with difficult end of life decisions with your elderly parents. Maybe you’re getting a raw deal at work from your co-workers and your boss seems to be no help in the matter. Maybe you’ve been asking spiritual questions for a long time and keep putting them off. Maybe it all seems so confusing that you don’t know where to begin.

Whatever it is you’re seeking, don’t seek where the women were. Not with the Jesus you think is dead. Do start with Christ and Him crucified, however. Because the one who was crucified has also been raised, just as He said. He has told you where He will meet you. In His Gospel. In Baptism. In His Holy Supper. These are the places where you ought to seek, because He has said to you that He will meet you there. With His forgiveness, with His mercy, with His comfort and strength.

He knows you have questions. He knows you have struggles. He knows you’re severely tempted and struggle against sin. He knows there is a lot that is confusing in this life. That’s why He Himself went through the suffering and torment of your sins and guilt. That’s why He paid the ultimate price so that you may have the ultimate gift—life with Him forever. He is alive, so you know He makes good on His promises. Amen.


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