Commemoration of Joseph, Patriarch
March 31, 2013
You have an opportunity today, right now. One hour from now, when you walk out of this building, opportunity is before you. Today, when you go out for a nice Easter lunch, tomorrow when you wake up, you have an opportunity. Each day this opportunity is before you.
You see, the Resurrection has changed everything. There is opportunity in the Resurrection of Christ. Something before you that is beyond your reach if left to your own notions of who God is, and who you are, for that matter.
When resurrection happens, things change. Things go into reverse. Things that promised no opportunity are the things laying and decomposing in their grave. Things that bound you are loosed.
Resurrection gives opportunity. And so, today, you have an opportunity. An opportunity to see things the way God sees them. To see them as they truly are, not through veiled eyes as you normally see them.
You have an opportunity to see Jesus, but not in the way you were looking for Him. Or the way you thought He might appear to you. The way you look for Jesus, you are looking to see a dead Jesus. The way He appears to you is as a living being, just as He said.
You have an opportunity to rest in His words, not in your own notions. An opportunity to not see things in the fear you sometimes experience. In the doubt you at times descend into. In the skepticism you sometimes approach God with.
You have an opportunity. The opportunity before you is the same as the one that was before the women who went to the tomb on the first Easter morning. We are the ones today who know that they were going to the tomb on Easter morning. They didn’t. They should have, but they didn’t.
The angel they met was the one who reminded them of this interesting little tidbit. Things are not as you had expected them to be. They are the way your Lord had told you they would be. The one who died is now alive. The one who was laying here in this tomb is upright and mobile. The one who promised He would conquer the grave has made good on His promise.
All of this was the opportunity that was before these women who were loving and well-meaning, and in their well-intentioned way believed in Jesus. But they went to the tomb on that day expecting to see a dead Jesus.
They were met with opportunity and the sight of the angel startled them. His words telling them that all they thought and expected was wrong and upside-down caused them to wonder what in the world was going on. They were afraid. They realized things were not as they thought they were—as they most assuredly thought they had to be.
They were rather, well, exactly as Jesus had said they would be. That’s a scary thought. Our Old Adam, our sinful nature, our natural born state, it’s going to hold on to what it knows can keep it alive. Clinging to our sinful nature is what we so often do. The problem for us is that it is the death of us.
You have an opportunity to live new life. To break free from your sinful nature. To live in new life that was gained by Jesus dying in your place; by Jesus conquering the grave that would swallow you up forever.
You have an opportunity just as those women had. An opportunity to see things anew. It’s scary. It means you need to put away the old things. The old things of your favorite sins that no one knows about. The doubts about God you continue to hold on to. The neglecting of hearing His Word and prayerfully meditating on His Word.
The laziness of not helping friends in need. The laziness of not sharing the Gospel with friends who desperately need to hear the Gospel. The laziness of reverting to your sinful nature, wanting to continue to see God in a way that fits your choices, and your notions, and your qualifications for how you would like to live.
You have this opportunity. As you are met with it each day, don’t dream that it will be any less scary. Putting to death your sinful nature is a battle that never gets easier, but rather more difficult.
Your living Lord will continue to send His servants, as He did on that first Easter morning. They will continue to draw your attention and your memory back to His words. Back to the work He has done, that He has accomplished, that he has secured for you.
As you are met with this opportunity you will continue to be driven back to your Baptism, where your own resurrection took place. Resurrection is our celebration, like Christmas, that is a joyous celebration. But always remember what resurrection means. It means first that death must occur.
That is why you must daily go back to your Baptism in repentance. In Baptism your sinful nature was drowned, you were united with Christ in those waters of Baptism in His death. Here is where you were first met with your opportunity as those women at the tomb were. You were united with Christ in those Baptismal waters in His resurrection.
The opportunity in resurrection is described by Paul in the Epistle reading: “for Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” It means you are no longer your own. It means you have new life.
Not new life to continue as you were. New life to live in forgiveness, life, and salvation. New life to rejoice in your Lord who has given His word, who has kept His word, and who delivers to you Himself in His preached Word, His Word that was the active agent in your Baptism, His Word that is the active agent in bringing about His crucified and risen self in His body and blood in this very bread and wine on this altar.
You are presented with an opportunity. And while a scary thought, it doesn’t rest on you and your at-times tendency toward fear and doubt. Perhaps the best way to see how it is your Lord who gives you this opportunity, and is the solid rock upon which you can be certain of it, hear how the effects of His resurrection truly are now for you, and each day of your life, and forever—
Before Christ ever rose from the dead, a man who was suffering and surely was looking for God to remove him from that suffering nevertheless saw beyond that to the Word of God and the God behind that Word, as Job professed:
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself.