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“The Meaning of Easter”
Psalm 118:24


Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
The Resurrection of Our Lord–Easter Sunday—April 24, 2011

“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  But, what is it we are celebrating this day?  Why are we gathered here this morning?  What is the meaning of Easter?  What is the meaning of Easter for you?

Easter means that your sins are all forgiven.  Paul says in Romans, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Jesus Christ took your sins upon himself; he suffered in your place all the punishment your sins deserved.  Because he paid the price for you, your sins are all forgiven. 

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”  Jesus’ resurrection was God the Father’s seal of acceptance on the sacrifice of his Son.  Jesus’ resurrection is like a rubber stamp on the bill for your sins: “Paid in Full.”  “[He] was raised to life for our justification.”  Jesus’ sacrifice has been accepted as full payment for all your sins.  You are justified in the eyes of God because the perfect holiness and righteous of his own Son has been credited to you. 

Easter means that your sins are all forgiven: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

Easter means also that you will have eternal life.  Jesus says, “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.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned. . .  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.”  When you die your soul will depart your body to be with Jesus in paradise.  And on the last day your body will be raised up, restored to life, resurrected, just as Jesus rose from the dead on Easter morn.  Your soul will be reunited with your body, and so you shall be forever with the Lord. 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus says.  “Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms . . . I am going there to prepare a place for you . . . I will come again and take you to be with me. . .  You know the way to the place where I am going. . .  I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Easter means that you will have eternal life: “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.”

Easter means also that you do not face life alone.  Just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus told his disciples, “Lo, I am with you always.”  Jesus is alive and he is with you always.  He invites you, “Come unto me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  The burdens of this life are too much for you to bear alone, but you don’t have to bear them alone.  Come unto to Jesus in prayer; come unto Jesus by reading his Word; come unto Jesus in worship; come unto Jesus with the burdens of your life, and he will give you rest.  As Peter says, “Cast all your cares on him for he cares for you.”

Easter means that you do not face life alone: “Lo, I am with you always.”

Easter means also that there is hope even in life’s most hopeless situations.  Psalm 30 says, “Weeping may remain for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  There couldn’t have been a greater cause for weeping, a more hopeless situation, than the first Good Friday, when the Hope of the world was laid in a tomb.  Imagine how the first followers of Jesus felt as they witnessed his dead body taken down from the cross, placed in the tomb, and the stone rolled into place. 

At sunrise that first Easter morn the women didn’t expect their journey to the tomb to be a joyous occasion.  They were taking spices to perform a sad but loving duty: to anoint the dead body of their beloved Jesus.  “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he is risen!’”

“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  What is it we are celebrating this day?  Why are we gathered here this morning?  What is the meaning of Easter?  What is the meaning of Easter for you?

Easter means that your sins are all forgiven: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

Easter means that you will have eternal life: “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.”

Easter means that you do not face life alone: “Lo, I am with you always.”

Easter means that there is hope even in life’s most hopeless situations: “Weeping may remain for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  “He is not here; he is risen!”

That is what we are celebrating this day, that is why are we gathered here this morning, that is the meaning of Easter—for you!

Amen.

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