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The Promise of Easter
1 Corinthians 15:17-20


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Easter Sunday—April 4, 2010

“This is the day the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it!”  But what is it we are rejoicing about?  What are celebrating today? 

The Apostle Paul writes in today’s Epistle Reading from 1st Corinthians: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

That is what we are celebrating today: “The Promise of Easter.”  The promise of forgiveness, the promise of resurrection, the promise of eternal life, the promise of reunion in heaven.

Paul writes in Romans, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  That is the Easter promise of forgiveness.  Because of our sin we deserved God’s wrath, we deserved the punishment of death and damnation.  But Hebrews says, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

God’s own Son suffered God’s wrath for you.  God’s own Son suffered the punishment of death and damnation for you, on the cross.  John says, “This is how God showed his love toward us: He sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. . .  he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  We are celebrating today because Jesus’ resurrection is God the Father’s proclamation to the world that he accepts his Son’s sacrifice as payment in full for the sins of the world.

Paul says in Romans, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  That is the Easter promise of forgiveness.

Paul says in 2nd Corinthians, “We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus.”  That is the Easter promise of resurrection.  Because Jesus Christ rose from the dead, you and all who trust in him will also rise to eternal life in the resurrection at the last day.

Jesus says, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. . .  Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear [the voice of the Son of God] and come out.”  The same body you have now will be raised up, reassembled, restored to life.  How is this possible?  Paul says in 1st Corinthians, “By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.”  We are celebrating today because Jesus’ resurrection means we will also rise from the dead.

Paul says in Romans, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”  That is the Easter promise of resurrection.

Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies.”  That is the Easter promise of eternal life.  Death is not the ultimate end but the ultimate beginning.  Even though you die, you will live forever, with Jesus in the paradise of heaven.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  We are celebrating today because Jesus’ resurrection opens the gates of heaven, the way to eternal life.

Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”  That is the Easter promise of eternal life. 

Paul says in 1st Thessalonians, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”  That is the Easter promise of reunion in heaven.

What comfort and peace we find in the hope of reunion in heaven!  The separation of death is only temporary.  Some day, some blessed day, all who have died in the Lord will be together again.  What a wonderful celebration, what a reunion that will be!

“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus says.  “Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me.”  We are celebrating today because Jesus’ resurrection means a place is prepared in heaven for you and all who trust in him.  As Paul says in 1st Thessalonians, “And so we shall be forever with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.”  That is the Easter promise of reunion in heaven.

“If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.  Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.  But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

That is what we are celebrating today—

The promise of forgiveness: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

The promise of resurrection: “Everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

The promise of eternal life: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies.”

The promise of reunion in heaven: “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  And so we shall be forever with the Lord.”

Forgiveness, resurrection, eternal life, reunion in heaven, that is “The Promise of Easter”—for you!

Amen.

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