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Sermon From Sunday March 31st 2013 / Easter Sunday

Posted in 2013 / Easter / Easter Day / Holy Week / Pastor Ted Giese / Sermons / ^John

Sermon From Sunday March 31st 2013 / Easter Sunday

Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / March 31st / Easter Sunday Season of Easter, John 20:1-18.


Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.       


But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.        


Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.


Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. You might have thought that Saint Peter, and Mary Magdalene and St. John had already been changed by Jesus, that just knowing Him prior to His Crucifixion would have been enough, and that that alone would have changed them. Today we hear in our Gospel Readings just how earth shattering, in the best possible way, the resurrection was. These three and countless others were forever changed because Jesus didn’t stay dead. 

Today we started out singing the Hymn, “I know that my Redeemer Lives” It’s a hymn built off of the words of Job in the Old Testament,[1] but for Peter and John and Mary Magdalene, for the disciples and for Jesus’ mother Mary and for all the others who had grieved at the sad news of Jesus’ death these words became prophetic, and not just prophetic but prophecy fulfilled in their lives. They were graced with the opportunity to see Jesus in His resurrected body. After the confusion of the early Easter morning Jesus spent a considerable amount of time with them before His ascension. What started out with a couple of people didn’t end with a couple of people; the witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection were many. St. Paul tells us that Jesus, “died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to [Peter], then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then [Jesus] appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.”[2] Saint Paul says.


we aren’t going off a single account of things


This is important because we aren’t going off of one persons account of things, we are blessed with these words from Paul and with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And in John’s Gospel He explains that the Scriptures were written “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”[3] You see John in the same Gospel records the words of Jesus to the disciple Thomas following Jesus’ resurrection, where Jesus says, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”[4] Those people would be you and me. We believe and yet we have not seen like Thomas had, like John had, like Mary Magdalene had, like Peter had. The resurrection of Jesus has changed us just as much as it changed them, and the interesting thing is that each of us come to the point in our lives where we own the words of the Hymn, “I know that my Redeemer lives” we own them like we own the words of the Apostles Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer, like we own the words of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”[5]


Owning it for yourself, hanging your hat on it, is the point where you’ve moved from just knowing something, to believing that it’s true, to finally believing that it true for yourself. It would be like this: First you might say, “I know there was a man named Jesus who people believe redeemed the world at the cross and that people say He was risen from the dead” Second you might say “I know that Jesus is the redeemer and that He did rise from the dead and lives” Third and finally you completely own it, and absolutely hang your hat on it and you then say, “I know that my Redeemer Live!” and from there you can sing with all your heart, “What comfort this sweet sentence gives!” “He lives, He Lives, Who once was dead, He lives my ever-living Head!”


Now this is great: And you think to yourself, yup that’s me! I can totally hang my hat on that, Easter is the best, Jesus lives! He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Or you think to yourself, hummn I’m not there yet. I’m back at the first or second part of all that. If you’re in the “He’s Risen, He’s Risen Indeed!” category, I want you to think back, because you might have had a time earlier in your life were you weren’t were you are now with your faith. And if you’re in the second group that’s still mulling all of this Jesus stuff over, be encouraged, because When Mary Magdalene first saw that empty tomb, when Saint Peter first saw that empty tomb they didn’t know what to think at first. Heck! Mary was talking with angels and didn’t know what to think! They didn’t see the empty tomb and jump up and say “He’s Risen, He’s Risen Indeed! Alleluia!”  in fact Luke’s Gospel says that Peter after running “to the tomb;” after “stooping and looking in,” after  “he saw the linen cloths by themselves;” after all of that “he went home marveling at what had happened.”[6] He still didn’t know what to think. Marry mistook Jesus for the gardener, she didn’t at first know what to think. If you’re still figuring out what to think about Jesus you are in good company.


The writer of the Hymn “I know that my Redeemer Lives” took a while to figure out what he believed about Jesus, he didn’t start his life with it all figured out. Maybe you can relate to him a bit. He also didn’t put his best foot forward as he started down the road of life. It’s a good thing that our early years do not always foreshadow what we will become. (This is very true of the writer of “I know that my Redeemer Lives.”)  In his youth and  early adult life, Samuel Medley would have seemed an unlikely candidate to write a hymn of praise to Jesus. He was born on June 23, 1738 in England and he was a wilful child and teenager who couldn’t wait to get away from his family and everything they offered him. They gave him an education, he didn’t care for it, they gave him an apprenticeship with a business man, he didn’t care for that either. They gave him all sorts of opportunities to succeed yet he couldn’t be bothered and in 1755 he ran off and joined the Royal Navy. 
After 4 years of hard and fast living in and out of every port in the British Empire Samuel found himself twenty one years old and discharged from the navy with a severely injured leg, an injury he received in a naval battle with the French near Port Lagos. It was bad enough that they were sure he’d lose his leg; that they’d have to amputate it. Amputation is always risky, back then the mortality rate was very high. His prospects were grim. At twenty one years of age he was living under his grandfather’s roof and by the circumstances created by his life choices Samuel had been given some time to think. And even though he lived in a time when most people were Christians, and even though he’d known lots about Jesus growing up, he still didn’t believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection were for him too. He still didn’t believe that all his hard and fast living were forgiven by Jesus’ death on the cross and that he, Samuel Medley, could have the same resurrected life that Jesus had and the forgiveness of all of his sins, if he just asked for forgiveness; If he’d just confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord and Believe in His heart that God raised Jesus from the dead.[7]


He didn’t believe it until “his grandfather, a Mr. Tonge, a pious man, who sought to lead Samuel into a different kind of life and a better one” did something very important for him. “One [Sunday] Day evening [Samuel’s grandfather] remained at home with him and read to him in the hope of reaching his heart, a sermon by [a] Dr. Watts on Isaiah 42: 6-7.[8] By faith in the One preached, [Christ Jesus, the Lord] he had his eyes opened and was brought into liberty from the prison [that his life had become]! After a restoration of health Samuel listened to the word [of God] as preached by [the preacher] George Whitfield ... [and] When [he was] near his death, a friend remarked to him, "Sir, Christ is your Centre." [Samuel responded] "Yes, yes! He is, He is." Later [Samuel] added, "I am now a shattered bark, just about to gain the blissful harbour, and oh how sweet will be the port after the storm." Again he said, "Dying is sweet work, sweet work! My heavenly Father! I am looking up to my dear Jesus, My God, my portion, my all in all!" He continued "Glory! Glory! Home! Home!" and then departed in peace on July 17th 1799,”[9] at the age of 61. By that point he’d written some 230 hymns in praise of Jesus who we celebrate today.


Here’s the important part for you here today,


Here’s the important part for you here today, no matter where you are in your faith, no matter what sort of life you’ve led or what sort of life you’re living now, whether it’s dramatic like the life of Samuel Medley, or not, things can change. You can go from one who looks into Jesus’ empty tomb marveling at what you don’t see like Peter to the same Peter who later wrote “we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with Him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”[10] That’s a different Peter, he’s changed.


Peter didn’t remain mystified by the empty tomb; no, Peter was given the opportunity to see Jesus face to face in the resurrection and to recall with great clarity the mighty works of God performed in Christ Jesus for all people; From the Mount of Transfiguration, to Mount Calvary and the cross, to the Mount of the Ascension and the great commission: Peter extols the work of the Holy Spirit in all of this, just as Martin Luther later does in the explanation of the Apostles Creed from the Small Catechism, you may remember these words, “I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.”


“I know that my Redeemer Lives”


Good Christian friends; this day you are being carried along by the Holy Spirit. Even if you don’t feel like you are, because the word of God is efficacious, when you hear it said to you, when you hear it read to you, when you hear it preached to you: The Holy Spirit is working on you, working on your heart; He’s building that faith in you, He’s giving that faith to you as a gift, and suddenly you turn around and there it is, and you have it, the gift, the gift of Easter morning. Because the Holy Spirit gave Samuel Medley the gift of faith He was able to say these things about Jesus “He lives triumphant from the grave, He lives eternally to save, He lives all glorious in the sky; He lives exalted there on high!”[11] To think that these great hymn lyrics were written by a rough and tumble sailor who could have just as easily ended up as a peg legged 18th century pirate, (fighting men, chasing women and drinking rum in the Caribbean) is amazing and just one more testament to the power of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people everywhere! Don’t be discouraged, if this transformation hasn’t happened for you, the Holy Spirit is at work, he brings bone-headed fishermen like Saint Peter to faith, he brings inconsolable monks deeply troubled by their sins, like Martin Luther, to peace with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is at work on you this day too! I leave you with verse seven of “I know that my Redeemer lives” Samuel says “He lives and grants me daily breath; He lives and I shall conquers death; He lives my mansion to prepare; He lives to bring me safely there.” These words are your words. This is the hope that is born that first Easter morning when Jesus stepped alive out of the tomb. It is the faith that rushed Mary Magdalene back to Peter and the others as she went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” With faith we celebrate this glorious resurrection today and all through the season of Easter. The peace of the Lord be with you always. Amen.


Let us pray: Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.


Here's a video of a Marco Klaue, from the Netherlands, singing "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." Verse two is a little different, but otherwise it's exactly what you'll find in the Lutheran Service Book, Hymn number 461.



[2] 1 Corinthians 15:3-8

[3] John 20:31

[4] John 20:29

[5] John 3:16

[6] Luke 24:12

[7] Romans 10:9

[8] “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

[10] 2 Peter 1:16-21

[11] Verse 2 of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives”