Posts Tagged ‘Easter A’

Kingdom, Power, and Glory!

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Rev. Brian Henderson-Pastor of
Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA

http://www.tlcsd.org and
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
Http://www.ORLCSD.org

Click here for audio of the message

For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” [Col. 3:3]

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! What a wonderful announcement for this sinful world to hear! We know why it is wonderful; we know why
it is good news; it is wonderful and good because through the work of Jesus Christ, God has defeated our archenemies, sin, death, and the devil! But to this unbelieving world what we call good and wonderful, they call foolish and a waste of time! They dismiss what we hold precious, the death, resurrection, and glorification of our Savior, and in its place they put the easter bunny and earth day?

We started what we call Holy Week with Palm Sunday.

On that day we recall the cheers of the jubilant crowd welcoming their King, our King with Hosannas and blessings to the one who comes in the name of our God! I wonder what our society would chant if Jesus came in our midst today? Maybe His handlers would have Him coming in waving to the crowd, kissing babies and pressing the flesh to that Frank Sinatra song, “The Best is Yet to Come.”

Yes, once again this consumer driven world we live in takes what we hold dearest, the very thing we need, and tramples it under their feet, replacing it with things we want! Why is that? Because dear friends, to get to Easter, to get to God’s Kingdom, Power, and Glory, you must pass through Good Friday, pain, suffering, and death! They can’t understand how God’s kingdom can come in such a low manner as that; they will never accept that idea until they have let go of their own idea of kingdom, power, and glory. That was the problem with the people of Jesus time and it is still the problem with our world today! In order to get to God they must first see and address their sins, and that is what Holy week and Easter Sunday are all about!

In Christ battle with sin, death, and the devil, Jesus appeared to be a victim. He was put to death as a criminal. He ruled as a King from a cross, with a crown of thorns and the broken scepter of a reed. “What kind of a king is this” a sinful world asks? Yes, He was a victim, but He was a victim in our place. Only by taking on the role of victim could be become the victor! Yes He was the one who was put to death for sinners, but He is also the one Who was raised to give those same sinners, you and me the righteousness of God! Yes they mocked him as a king with a crown of thorns, but He was a different kind of king than they were expecting. His central concern was the truth; a truth that He both proclaimed and fulfilled! But why? So that God’s kingdom, power, and glory would come among us and replace our own sinful ideas of kingdom, power, and glory! Through death upon the cross, Jesus leads His subjects of His kingdom from the cross through death into the exaltation of the royal triumph of the empty tomb.

But in order to get to the empty tomb; in order to experience the triumph of the resurrection, you must pass through the dark valley of death; death that is always the result of sin, our sins! This is the truth that the women on Easter morning discovered first, and then the apostles and disciples after them!

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.” [Matthew 28:1]

Dear friends this was no ordinary morning for the women in Jesus inner circle; no they weren’t on their way to the market to buy what they needed for breakfast; they were on their way to finish burying their King! Jesus who they were certain was the Messiah; a king who would live forever was now dead! All of their hopes and dreams seemed to be sealed away in that tomb with the body of Jesus! He was buried so quickly on Friday evening because the Sabbath was soon to start at sundown; and every good Jew knew that you couldn’t do any work on the Sabbath; not even burying your king! Well the Sabbath is over; the sun is now rising and it is a new day… Sunday to be exact. So off they went to finish the work that was started on Friday. Not only must they enter deeper into the dark valley of death, but they must smell and experience the decay of Him who they thought would not, no could not die!

Now, they arrive at the tomb of their king, “And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.” [Matt. 28:2-4] Dear friends, don’t miss the significance of the earthquake! It is the same quaking that came after Jesus was put to death! It’s God’s expression of power after He confronts the evil plans of devils and men; plans that seek to replace His Kingdom, Power, and Glory with their own kingdom, power, and glory! The guards at the tomb knew that this was the power of God! Why else would they fall like dead men and shake like frightened children? What else can you do when you are an unrepentant sinner confronted by an angel of the Lord?

The women, no doubt were afraid as well. They were well within the deep, dark valley of death, but now they’ve encountered the unexplainable light of the Living God! “But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, (just) as he said (He would do). Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead!” [Matt. 28:5-7a] And there you have a perfect picture of God’s kingdom, glory, and power vs. the world’s kingdom, glory, and power! What the world meant for evil God turned into good! “They put (Jesus) to death by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him on the third day and MADE HIM TO APPEAR! [Acts 10:39b, 40]

“So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and 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, and there they will see me.” [Matt. 28:8-10]

 

He is risen!  Glory be to God on high… Jesus is risen indeed!

And what a greeting He gives to these wonderful Christian women! It is a shame that our translators chose such a boring word as “Greetings” to put in the mouth of Jesus. A more accurate translation of Jesus greeting is “Happiness and joy in their fullness are yours!” Amen and amen Jesus! You are alive! You are the living God; even death and the grave have no power over you! Your kingdom is not only greater than the devil and sinful men, but your power and glory can never be defeated or replaced! It’s no wonder that the women fell down and worshiped Him! But Jesus has something to tell them, and through them He also speaks to us. Listen: “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” [vs. 10]

Do not be afraid! Behold I have made all things new; I have defeated my enemies and I have brought you back into my Father’s Kingdom of power and glory! Now go and tell my brothers, those who have believed my Word; those who were heavily burdened by sin and fear; those who turned to me for rest. Tell them I am alive and just as I promised I will never leave nor forsake them!

Dear friends, do not miss that wonderful description that Jesus uses to describe His apostles and disciples. He calls them brothers! Those who deserted Him at the cross out of fear; Peter who denied Him three times; we who have chased after the kingdom, power, and glory of this sinful world, Jesus calls brothers! With this simple word, Jesus brings all of His disciples, even you and me deep into His heart as His most dearest and closest relatives. In this one word, Jesus gives us all of His forgiving love and at the same time He also gives us the highest honor we could ever receive. If Jesus is our brother, what more could we ever need? Brothers in the flesh possess everything together; they have one Father and one inheritance. So we have a common possession of everything that belongs to Christ! And what is that possession? It is the Kingdom, Power, and Glory of God! All of this is what Jesus gained on that great resurrection day for Himself, but He has also given it to you!

You are Christ’s brothers and sisters because He has freed you from your sins and the kingdom of the devil! In His resurrection, Jesus defeated all of these things and now He invites you to rest in this truth. Jesus entered into death in order to triumph over it and reclaim you as His brother. His resurrection causes you who trust in this work to rest in it and remain steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in joy because of the completed work of Jesus Christ! As He gives you the fruits of His resurrection through your baptism, you are now walking and growing in a new life that He has created for you! In this new life, He stands alongside of you as you struggle against your enemy the devil, and your old sinful flesh. But you must never become discouraged, because you have been raised with Christ from the dead in your baptism, but more than that, you have been hidden away with Him. And because you are hidden, the devil and the sinful world can’t see what you see by faith, so they laugh at you and they attack you trying to move you into the same place they exist… fear and doubt! Oh let them rage on all they like; they can’t harm you because you are not only protected from them, you are hidden away, out of their reach!

Christ, who was their victim is now your Victor, and He has come back from the grave for you. You are His most prized possession and He delivers you to His Father into a Kingdom of Power and Glory! Yes friends, Christ has risen… He has risen indeed!

Indeed!

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014
Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church
7210 Lisbon Street, San Diego, CA 92114
http://www.tlcsd.org

Click here for audio of this message

“For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” [Col. 3:3]

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  What a wonderful announcement for this sinful world to hear!  We know why it is wonderful; we know why it is good news; it is wonderful and good because through the work of Jesus Christ, God has defeated our archenemies, sin, death, and the devil!  But to this unbelieving world what we call good and wonderful, they call foolish and a waste of time!  They dismiss what we hold precious, the death, resurrection, and glorification of our Savior, and in its place they put the Easter bunny and earth day?

Now, it isn’t hard to understand why they would rather have the Easter Bunny than Christ the Savior.  I mean after all, the Easter Bunny is a fictional character from a children’s story; no rational adult ever asked another adult to have faith in the Easter bunny.  And yet, here are we Christians doing that very thing concerning the Son of God, Jesus Christ!  I’ve had atheists and doubters challenge me with this statement: “If Jesus is as real as you say He is, why have I never seen Him or experienced His presence?”  Well the answer is of course, you haven’t died with Him yet, and you haven’t been hidden with Him.  Or another way to say that is, you don’t perceive a need to see Him; that is, you don’t yet see a need for a Savior!

So, instead of simply letting us worship our resurrected Lord in peace, the doubters and the haters want to attack what we hold dearest.  Every Easter season, you will find a plethora of television specials and news reports claiming to present the historical and true Jesus,with one goal in mind… to make you doubt the Person of Jesus Christ, and then doubt His resurrection.

Yes, once again this irreligious world we live in takes what we hold dearest, the very thing we need, and tramples it under their feet, replacing it with things they want!  Why is that?  Because dear friends, to get to Easter, to get to God’s Kingdom, Power, and Glory, you must pass through Good Friday, and all of its pain, suffering, and death!  They can’t understand how God’s kingdom can come in such a low manner as that; they will never accept that idea until they have let go of their own idea of kingdom, power, and glory.  That was the problem with the people of Jesus time and it is still the problem with our world today!  In order to get to God they must first see and address their sins, and that is what Holy week and Easter Sunday are all about!

In Christ’s battle with sin, death, and the devil, Jesus appeared to be a victim.  He was put to death as a criminal.  He ruled as a King from a cross, with a crown of thorns and the broken scepter made from a reed.  “What kind of a king is this” a sinful world asks?

Yes, He was a victim, but He was a victim in our place.  Only by taking on the role of victim could be become the victor!  Yes He was the one who was put to death for sinners, but He is also the one that rose from the dead, in order to give those same sinners, you and me, the righteousness of God!  Yes they mocked him as a king with a crown of thorns, but He was a different kind of king than they were expecting.  His central concern was the truth; a truth that He both proclaimed and fulfilled!  But why?  So that God’s kingdom, power, and glory would come among us sinners and replace our own sinful ideas of kingdom, power, and glory!  Through His death upon the cross, Jesus leads the subjects of His kingdom from the cross through death into the exaltation of the royal triumph of the empty tomb.  But in order to get to the empty tomb; in order to experience the triumph of the resurrection, you must pass through the dark valley of death; death that is always the result of sin, our sins!  This is the truth that the women on Easter morning discovered first, and then the apostles and we disciples after them!

“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.” [Matthew 28:1]  Dear friends this was no ordinary morning for the women in Jesus inner circle; no they weren’t on their way to the market to buy what they needed for breakfast; they were on their way to finish burying their King!  Jesus who they were certain was the Messiah; a king who would live forever was now dead!  All of their hopes and dreams seemed to be sealed away in that tomb with the body of Jesus!  He was buried so quickly on Friday evening because the Sabbath was soon to start at sundown; and every good Jew knew that you couldn’t do any work on the Sabbath; not even burying your king!  Well the Sabbath is over; the sun is now rising and it is a new day… Sunday to be exact.  So off they went to finish the work that was started on Friday.  Not only must they enter deeper into the dark valley of death, but they must smell and experience the decay of Him who they thought would not, no could not die!

Now, they arrive at the tomb of their king, “And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.  And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.” [Matt. 28:2-4]  Dear friends, don’t miss the significance of the earthquake!  It is the same quaking that came after Jesus was put to death!  It’s God’s expression of power after He confronts the evil plans of devils and men; plans that seek to replace His Kingdom, Power, and Glory with their own kingdom, power, and glory!  The guards at the tomb knew that this was the power of God!  Why else would they fall like dead men and shake like frightened children?  What else can you do when you are an unrepentant sinner confronted by an angel of the Lord?

The women, no doubt were afraid as well.  They were well within the deep, dark valley of death, but now they’ve been encountered the unexplainable light of the Living God!  “But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, (just) as he said (He would do). Come, see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead!” [Matt. 28:5-7a]  And there you have a perfect picture of God’s Kingdom, Glory, and Power vs. the world’s kingdom, glory, and power!  What the world meant for evil God turned into good!  “They put (Jesus) to death by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him on the third day and MADE HIM TO APPEAR! [Acts 10:39b, 40]

“So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and 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, and there they will see me.” [Matt. 28:8-10]

He is risen!  Glory be to God on high… Jesus is risen indeed!  And what a greeting He gives to these wonderful Christian women!  It is a shame that our translators chose such a boring word as “Greetings” to put in the mouth of Jesus.  A more accurate translation of Jesus greeting is “Happiness and joy in their fullness are yours!”  Amen and amen Jesus!  You are alive!  You are the living God; even death and the grave have no power over you!  Your kingdom is not only greater than the devil and sinful men, but your power and glory can never be defeated or replaced!  It’s no wonder that the women fell down and worshiped Him!  But Jesus has something to tell them, and through them He also speaks to us.  Listen: “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” [vs. 10]  Did you hear that good news?  He is telling you, “Do not be afraid!  Behold I have made all things new; I have defeated your enemies and my enemies and I have brought you back into my Father’s Kingdom of power and glory!  Now go and tell my brothers, those who have believed my Word; those who were heavily burdened by sin and fear; those who turned to me for rest.  Tell them I am alive just as I promised, and tell them that I will never leave nor forsake them!”

Dear friends, do not miss that wonderful description that Jesus uses to describe His apostles and disciples.  He calls them brothers!  Those who deserted Him at the cross out of fear; Peter who denied Him three times; also we who have chased after the kingdom, power, and glory of this sinful world, Jesus calls brothers!  With this simple word, Jesus brings all of His disciples, even you and me deep into His heart as His most dearest and closest relatives.  In this one word, Jesus gives us all of His forgiving love and at the same time He also gives us the highest honor we could ever receive.  If Jesus is our brother, what more could we ever need?  Brothers in the flesh possess everything together; they have one Father and one inheritance.  So we have a common possession of everything that belongs to Christ!  And what is that possession?  It is the Kingdom, Power, and Glory of God!  All of this is what Jesus gained on that great resurrection day for you who believe!

You are Christ’s brothers and sisters because He has freed you from your sins and the kingdom of the devil!  In His resurrection, Jesus defeated all of these things and now He invites you to rest in this truth.  Jesus entered into death in order to triumph over it and reclaim you as His brother.  His resurrection causes you who trust in this work to rest in it and remain steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in joy because of the completed work of Jesus Christ!  As He gives you the fruits of His resurrection through your baptism, you are now walking and growing in a new life that He has created for you and in you!  In this new life, He stands alongside of you as you struggle against your enemy the devil, and your old sinful flesh.  But you must never become discouraged, because you have been raised with Christ from the dead in your baptism, but more than that, you have been hidden away with Him.  And because you are hidden, the devil and the sinful world can’t see what you see by faith, so they laugh at you and they attack you trying to move you into fear and doubt!  Oh let them rage on all they like; they can’t harm you because you are not only protected from them, you are hidden away, out of their reach!

Christ, who was their victim is now your Victor, and He has come back from the grave for you.  You are His most prized possession and He delivers you to His Father into a Kingdom of Power and Glory!  So, when your unbelieving friends ask you, Do you really believe Jesus is God?”  All you need to do is look at them and say, “Indeed!”

Yes friends, Christ has risen… He has risen indeed!

Our Burning Desire!

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Easter 3A, May 6, 2011
Click here for audio of this message

In our gospel reading, it’s once again the first day of the week, Easter Sunday.  Some of the women who were disciples of Jesus went to the tomb and found that He wasn’t there; instead they found angels who declared that He had risen from the dead!  They went back to where they were staying and found the 11 apostles and a vast number of disciples hiding behind locked doors, because they were afraid that they would be punished as well!  When the women reported what they discovered and what the angels told them, they were astounded, but soon the excitement wore off, and they all went back to normal living; ignoring the reports of the resurrection!

That same day, two of those disciples were on their way to a town named Emmaus, about 7 miles from Jerusalem, and they were trying to make sense of everything that had happened.  They must have been discussing their last three years with Jesus; how they were appointed witnesses and given authority to drive out demons and heal disease.  They must have recounted how they followed this man they thought was the messiah; the one who would anoint Israel to rule and bless the entire world.  They must have recalled how on Palm Sunday He made His triumphant entry into the city and then into the temple to purify it from evil, which was supposed to restore God’s rule on earth.  But now, their hopes had been dashed by Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, who was handed over to be killed by crucifixion and then sealed away in a tomb along with all of their hopes and dreams!

Now while they’re talking about these things and sharing their disappointment and shattered dreams, who is it that comes along side of them?  None other than Jesus Himself that’s who!  But their eyes are kept from knowing who He is?  Now that’s strange!  How did He do that?  Well first, let’s remember who Jesus is, shall we?!  He’s God, and He can do whatever He likes!  But we also need to remember our message last week about Thomas; he refused to believe until he could actually see and touch Jesus, right?  And what did Jesus have to say about that?  He said that Thomas believed because he saw Him, but more blessed are those who believe without seeing; those who see not with physical eyes, but eyes of faith!  Remember, Jesus is talking about you and me; we who believe because of the work of God’s Spirit that comes to us in His Word and Sacrament.  Remember this, because it will be an important truth at the end of our message.   

So back to our gospel reading and the two disciples who are kept from recognizing or seeing Jesus for whom He is. So Jesus asks them, “What is this conversation that you’re holding with each other as you’re walking along?”  And they stood still, looking sad.”  That means that they were actually frozen by grief; they were so sad and depressed they couldn’t even find the strength or motivation to walk any further because of what they felt they lost; the one they thought was the Messiah is dead!  “Then one of them named Cleopas, answered Him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened (in Jerusalem) these days?”  (Dude have you been locked away in a tomb?!)  And He said to them, “What things?”

Now that’s strange; I mean, why did Jesus ask “What things”; He’s God right?  He knew, didn’t He? Sure He did!  May I suggest that Jesus was testing their faith?  In other words, He was pointing out that they had no faith, or they had false faith!  He had to completely destroy their hope in what they saw and perceived so that He could give them faith in what they could not perceive or understand!  How?  By opening up the scriptures and explaining God’s Word!  What part of the Word?  All of the Word; He did this by showing them that every page of scripture was about Him!  He showed them that He was the key for not just unlocking scripture, but understanding it. How?  By knowing that the gospel, the forgiveness of sins is exactly the very thing that God has always been up to throughout the history of man; by seeing that every word is scripture is recorded for that very reason!  By showing them that Jesus, as the Lamb of God came as a sacrifice, the only sacrifice that could be made that would take away the sins of the world; even their sins! 

So, what we learn this morning is that Jesus wants to remove our fears and disappointment and put Himself in their place!  Listen to their confession after Jesus asked, “What things?” and see if you don’t hear fear and disappointment in their words.  They answered, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (oops they forgot the part that He was begotten by the Holy Spirit; they forgot the part that says He’s the Son of God), but at least they got the last part of the creed right.  Listen, “and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up (to Pontius Pilate), to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.  But “WE” had hoped that He was the one (who would) redeem Israel.”

Then they continued their testimony about how some of their women amazed them by declaring that when they went to the tomb of their former Messiah the body wasn’t there, but instead they were greeted by angels who said that Jesus wasn’t dead but alive!

And this is where Jesus begins to speak faith into their hearts and even into ours this morning, and He does it first with a scolding: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?”  And that is the fatal flaw of their false faith.  In their faith, their freedom, their new world order, their grief was central to everything.  Their lack of glory, or their desire for glory was the central reason for their unbelief in Jesus!  But Jesus reverses their thinking, their glory seeking and shows them that His glory should be the center of their faith; He shows them that without His suffering and death, there could be no hope for them or the world; it was necessary for Jesus to suffer and die!  Now Jesus brings faith and salvation into their hearts by preaching about Himself!  Now the living Word of God begins to open their eyes of faith and our own so that we might believe unto salvation.  But then He stopped the sermon as they were drawing close to the village, and He acted as if He was going on farther.

“But they urged Him strongly (they insisted), saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.”  So He went inside the home with them.  “(And) when He was at table with them, He took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.”  Now doesn’t that sound familiar?  Listen to the rest of that statement found in Luke 22:19, “saying “This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  Yes, this appears to be a repeat of His Words first spoken in the upper room when He instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion!  “And (once he spoke those words), their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.”  Where and how did they recognize Jesus?  In His Word and in His sacrament!  Here dear friends is the great transition from becoming a disciple through the act of being an eye witness to becoming a disciple by being a witness through the power of God’s Holy Word and Sacrament.  Once they were given faith through the Word and the breaking of the bread, their eyes were opened and they saw, they recognized Jesus!  “They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?”  And that has been God’s means of bringing sinful men to faith ever since.  It is His means and not ours.  It is so He is glorified and not us!

Now, as I close our message, I would like to speak to you parents, especially you mothers and grandmothers on your special day.  I can think of no greater honor that you could give to God than to lovingly direct your children’s hearts to burn in love for God, His Word and Sacraments, and your Christian family.  Wouldn’t you agree with me that children seem to have a natural burning love, or at least a burning desire for the love of their mothers?  Isn’t that the reason that we have a national day to honor our mothers and grandmothers?  So, your task dear mother’s is to take that love and direct it first and foremost to God the Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  You have the challenge of teaching your children that if they value and respect your love, they must first value and respect the love of God the Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds.”  In other words, they are to develop a fear for God!  Or as our epistle lesson states, they are to learn to conduct themselves “with fear throughout (their) time in exile.”  What does that mean, their time in exile?  It means the time that they are living and waiting in this sinful world for Jesus to come back; the time that God has determined will be their last moment here on earth!  How will you accomplish this task?  By reminding them that they were purchased or ransomed out of this sinful world with the precious blood and sacrifice of God the Son, Jesus Christ!  In other words, you must help them see that their future does not depend on you or them, but upon Jesus Christ Crucified and Resurrected for them and the world!  Or as Martin Luther wrote, we must teach them to believe that Christ has “purchased and won (them)… not with silver or gold but with His holy, precious blood, and with His innocent suffering and death, that (they) may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him!”

Now dear Christian parents is the time to begin directing the hearts and minds of our children towards God, no matter their age!  Do not stop to think about lost time; do not even wonder if it is too late!  Remember, their salvation is not up to you, it’s up to God and His work through His means.  It’s not what you have done or failed to do, it’s about what God has done through Jesus Christ and what He is continuing to do!  Our only job is to always point them to Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected for them and for us!  That is the beautiful thing about grace… it’s never too late for faith in Jesus Christ!  So for now on, when they ask you what you want for Mother’s day, or any other special day, tell them that you want them to come to church with you.  Give them the life changing exposure to God’s means of grace, His Word and Sacrament!  Today dear friends is the first day of the rest of their lives.  Let’s make it a blessed day by keeping Jesus Christ in the center of it!  He has risen, He has risen indeed!  AMEN!

Kingdom, Power, and Glory!

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Rev. Brian Henderson, Pastor-Trinity Lutheran Church-San Diego
Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011
Click here for audio of this message

Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  What a wonderful announcement for this sinful world to hear!  We know why it is wonderful; we know why it is good news; it is wonderful and good because through the work of Jesus Christ, God has defeated our archenemies, sin, death, and the devil!  But to this unbelieving world what we call good and wonderful, they call foolish and a waste of time!  They dismiss what we hold precious, the death, resurrection, and glorification of our Savior, and in its place they put the easter bunny and earth day? 

We started what we call Holy Week with Palm Sunday.  On that day we recall the cheers of the jubilant crowd welcoming their King, our King with Hosannas and blessings to the one who comes in the name of our God!  I wonder what our society would chant if Jesus came in our midst today?  Maybe this: “Here comes the King, here comes the big number one!  The king is calling so loud and clear!  There is only one king…”  Does that sound good?  Well let me give you the rest of this jingle that was written in 1971: “Here comes the King, here come the big number one; Budweiser Beer is beer that’s second to none!  The king is calling, so loud and clear; there’s only one Budweiser Beer.  When you say Bud you say it all!” 

Yes, once again this consumer driven world we live in takes what we hold dearest, the very thing we need, and tramples it under their feet, replacing it with things we want!  Why is that?  Because dear friends, to get to Easter, to get to God’s Kingdom, Power, and Glory, you must pass through Good Friday, pain, suffering, and death!  They can’t understand how God’s kingdom can come in such a low manner as that; they will never accept that idea until they have let go of their own idea of kingdom, power, and glory.  That was the problem with the people of Jesus time and it is still the problem with our world today!  In order to get to God they must first see and address their sins, and that is what Holy week and Easter Sunday are all about! 

In Christ battle with sin, death, and the devil, Jesus appeared to be a victim.  He was put to death as a criminal.  He ruled as a King from a cross, with a crown of thorns and the broken scepter of a reed.  “What kind of a king is this” a sinful world asks?  Yes, He was a victim, but He was a victim in our place.  Only by taking on the role of victim could be become the victor!  Yes He was the one who was put to death for sinners, be He is also the one that was raised to give those same sinners, you and me the righteousness of God!  Yes they mocked him as a king with a crown of thorns, but He was a different kind of king than they were expecting.  His central concern was the truth; a truth that He both proclaimed and fulfilled!  But why?  So that God’s kingdom, power, and glory would come among us and replace our own sinful ideas of kingdom, power, and glory!  Through death upon the cross, Jesus leads His subjects of His kingdom from the cross through death into the exaltation of the royal triumph of the empty tomb. 

But in order to get to the empty tomb; in order to experience the triumph of the resurrection, you must pass through the dark valley of death; death that is always the result of sin, our sins!  This is the truth that the women on Easter morning discovered first, and then the apostles and disciples after them! 

 “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.” [Matthew 28:1]  Dear friends this was no ordinary morning for the women in Jesus inner circle; no they weren’t on their way to the market to buy what they needed for breakfast; they were on their way to finish burying their King!  Jesus who they were certain was the Messiah; a king who would live forever was now dead!  All of their hopes and dreams seemed to be sealed away in that tomb with the body of Jesus!  He was buried so quickly on Friday evening because the Sabbath was soon to start at sundown; and every good Jew knew that you couldn’t do any work on the Sabbath; not even burying your king!  Well the Sabbath is over; the sun is now rising and it is a new day… Sunday to be exact.  So off they went to finish the work that was started on Friday.  Not only must they enter deeper into the dark valley of death, but they must smell and experience the decay of Him who they thought would not, no could not die! 

Now, they arrive at the tomb of their king, “And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.  And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.” [Matt. 28:2-4]  Dear friends, don’t miss the significance of the earthquake!  It is the same quaking that came after Jesus was put to death!  It’s God’s expression of power after He confronts the evil plans of devils and men; plans that seek to replace His Kingdom, Power, and Glory with their own kingdom, power, and glory!  The guards at the tomb knew that this was the power of God!  Why else would they fall like dead men and shake like frightened children?  What else can you do when you are an unrepentant sinner confronted by an angel of the Lord? 

The women, no doubt were afraid as well.  They were well within the deep, dark valley of death, but now they’ve encountered the unexplainable light of the Living God!  “But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, (just) as he said (He would do). Come, see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead!” [Matt. 28:5-7a]  And there you have a perfect picture of God’s kingdom, glory, and power vs. the world’s kingdom, glory, and power!  What the world meant for evil God turned into good!  “They put (Jesus) to death by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him on the third day and MADE HIM TO APPEAR! [Acts 10:39b, 40] 

“So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and 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, and there they will see me.” [Matt. 28:8-10] 

He is risen!  Glory be to God on high… Jesus is risen indeed!  And what a greeting He gives to these wonderful Christian women!  It is a shame that our translators chose such a boring word as “Greetings” to put in the mouth of Jesus.  A more accurate translation of Jesus greeting is “Happiness and joy in their fullness are yours!”  Amen and amen Jesus!  You are alive!  You are the living God; even death and the grave have no power over you!  Your kingdom is not only greater than the devil and sinful men, but your power and glory can never be defeated or replaced!  It’s no wonder that the women fell down and worshiped Him!  But Jesus has something to tell them, and through them He also speaks to us.  Listen: “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” [vs. 10]  Do not be afraid!  Behold I have made all things new; I have defeated my enemies and I have brought you back into my Father’s Kingdom of power and glory!  Now go and tell my brothers, those who have believed my Word; those who were heavily burdened by sin and fear; those who turned to me for rest.  Tell them I am alive and just as I promised I will never leave nor forsake them!  

Dear friends, do not miss that wonderful description that Jesus uses to describe His apostles and disciples.  He calls them brothers!  Those who deserted Him at the cross out of fear; Peter who denied Him three times; we who have chased after the kingdom, power, and glory of this sinful world, Jesus calls brothers!  With this simple word, Jesus brings all of His disciples, even you and me deep into His heart as His most dearest and closest relatives.  In this one word, Jesus gives us all of His forgiving love and at the same time He also gives us the highest honor we could ever receive.  If Jesus is our brother, what more could we ever need?  Brothers in the flesh possess everything together; they have one Father and one inheritance.  So we have a common possession of everything that belongs to Christ!  And what is that possession?  It is the Kingdom, Power, and Glory of God!  All of this is what Jesus gained on that great resurrection day for Himself, but He has also given it to you! 

You are Christ’s brothers and sisters because He has freed you from your sins and the kingdom of the devil!  In His resurrection, Jesus defeated all of these things and now He invites you to rest in this truth.  Jesus entered into death in order to triumph over it and reclaim you as His brother.  His resurrection causes you who trust in this work to rest in it and remain steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in joy because of the completed work of Jesus Christ!  As He gives you the fruits of His resurrection through your baptism, you are now walking and growing in a new life that He has created for you!  In this new life, He stands alongside of you as you struggle against your enemy the devil, and your old sinful flesh.  But you must never become discouraged, because you have been raised with Christ from the dead in your baptism, but more that, you have been hidden away with Him.  And because you are hidden, the devil and the sinful world can’t see what you see by faith, so they laugh at you and they attack you trying to move you into fear and doubt!  Oh let them rage on all they like; they can’t harm you because you are not only protected from them, you are hidden away, out of their reach! 

Christ, who was their victim is now your Victor, and He has come back from the grave for you.  You are His most prized possession and He delivers you to His Father into a Kingdom of Power and Glory!  Yes friends, Christ has risen… He has risen indeed!