Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Easter Sunday April 16th 2017 - / Mark 16:1-8 / Fear, Love, and Trust in Jesus above all things - First Commandment
(The focus for our Wednesday evening Services, and for Holy Week and Easter, will be the 10 Commandments. Local pastors were provided with a sermon corresponding to their assigned commandment, the sermons are from a sermon series, written by Rev. Brent Kuhlman for Concordia Pulpit Resources, which our Circuit selected for us to use in our Lenten Services. Pastors were encouraged to use as much or as little as they liked from the Pr. Kuhlman’s sermon series)
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Easter Sunday April 16th 2017: Easter / Mark 16:1–8 "Fear, Love, and Trust in Jesus above all things."
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
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. During His public ministry before His Good Friday death on the cross, when Jesus was with His disciples in the town of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples the mother of all questions, "Who do you say I am?" It’s a fair question. There are many people today who give answers to that question. And when Jesus first asks it of His disciples His words reverberate through time right into your ears too. He asks "Who do you say I am?" and you must answer.
Mormons answer this question by saying that Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer, [the devil]; Jehovah's Witnesses answer by saying that Jesus is the archangel Michael; New Agers say Jesus is an avatar or enlightened messenger. Secular humanists might say He was nothing more than a popular and respected teacher. Jesus, however, answered by claiming that He was God. First, Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God. As a result, the Jewish leaders tried to kill Him because in "calling God His own Father, [Jesus was] making Himself equal with God." In the Gospel of Saint John Jesus went so far as to use the very words by which God revealed Himself to Moses from the burning bush when God said His name was, “I AM WHO I AM.” Tracing Himself even further back beyond Moses to before the life of Abraham Jesus had said to the Jews, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” To the Jews this was the epitome of blasphemy, for they knew that in doing so Jesus was clearly claiming to be God. On yet another occasion, Jesus explicitly told the Jews: " 'I and the Father are one.' Again the Jews picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus said to them, 'I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these [miracles] do you stone Me?' [With stones in hand they replied] 'We are not stoning you for any of these [miracles], but for blasphemy, because You, a mere man, claim to be God.'  All of this happened before His crucifixion, it all happened before His greatest miracle, the greatest miracle of all His resurrection from the dead: The miracle from God the Father, Jesus’ greatest miracle that we celebrate today.
Now we’ve been going through the 10 Commandments during the season of Lent leading up to this morning. Back on Ash Wednesday we heard Pr. Albrecht preach on the 10th and 9th Commandments about coveting, deeply desiring to have that which doesn’t belong to you, feeling with all your heart and soul that something that isn’t yours to have should be yours, and all the sin that can come from allowing such feelings to control your life: All the sin that can come from allowing money and possessions, or the want of them, to control your life. Week in and week out we went through the Commandments and today we end with the 1st Commandment which we confessed together before the Sermon. In the 1st Commandment, God forbids you from having any other gods than Him. You are to fear, love, and trust God above all things. Because He wants to be God for you! For your benefit. Jesus is the second person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus is God. Jesus is God for you. He is God for you in His suffering – which means He is God for you in your suffering; Jesus is God for you in His death on the cross, which means He is God for you in your death, and Jesus now is God for you in His resurrection which means He is God for you in your resurrection which is to come on The Last Day. This resurrected Lord Jesus in the Book of Revelation says to Saint John, says to you, “Fear not, I AM the first and the last, and the Living One. I died, and behold I AM alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Next Sunday, by the way, we have the account of Jesus meeting His disciples in the flesh flowing His Easter Resurrection. That’s the Gospel reading we have for the second Sunday in Easter every year and in the weeks to come we will focus of what happened after Jesus was raised from the dead. Are you curious about that? What that was like? Come hear about it?
But for today I want you to think of those ladies who went to the tomb that first Sunday morning after Jesus’ Good Friday death. Think of Peter and John who ran to the tomb after the women had reported back that it was empty! What if you’d been there with them, what if you been one of the ladies or maybe Peter or John? … What might have been going through your mind?
You had such high hopes in Him. Jesus was everything to you. You followed Him because you believed He was the Messiah, the promised Saviour. He did things only God could do. He said words only God could possibly say. This always amazed you, many times to the point of absolute fear. You were there when He healed a paralytic and forgave his sins. It amazed everyone, only God forgives sins like that. When He stilled the storm, you were terrified and asked one another: “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” You were astonished and absolutely amazed when He brought Jairus’ dead daughter back to life and when He walked on the water no mere man could do that – there was something more to Jesus! On the mountain, when His appearance changed, transfigured; you were scared out of your wits. Could He be . . . ? Sure think so! Could be … Jesus was the real deal. At least you hoped. Especially after all the miraculous things He did and the authoritative sermons He preached! They were so happy to see Him come into Jerusalem, the crowds, the palm branches, the children singing “Hosanna!” “Save us!” Everything was going so well … He’d even raised Lazarus from the dead and Lazarus was four days dead, if Jesus could do that He could do anything! Now He lays as dead as any man: The pain of it; the grief of it; the fear it causes. Now what? He’s dead. Buried. What good is a dead and buried Jesus? Can you trust in Him anymore? Can you? … and yet now we hear that the body is gone? What are we to believe? What are we to think? Could He really be alive again? Is He who we thought He was? Is He who He said He is?
You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
What do you trust most? Do you trust in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit the most? Above all things? Jesus above all things? Or is your trust in something else? Do you have another god, other gods? The Large Catechism delves into the most common pitfalls when it comes to the 1st Commandment. Try this on for size … how does it fit? Do you see this in the world? In yourself? “Manny a person thinks that he has God and everything in abundance when he has money and possessions. He trusts in them and boasts about them with such firmness and assurance as to care for no one. Such a person has a god by the name of “Mammon,” (money and possessions), on which he sets all his heart. This is the most common idol on earth [the most common false god]. He who has money and possessions feel secure and is joyful and undismayed as though he were sitting in the midst of paradise. On the other hand he who has no money doubts and is despondent as though he knew of no God. For very few people can be found who are of good cheer and who neither mourn nor complain if they lack money and possessions “Mammon.” This care and desire for money sticks and clings to our nature right up to the grave. So, too, whoever trusts and boasts that he has great skill, prudence, power, favour, friendship and honour also has a god. But it is not the true and only God. This truth reappears when you notice how arrogant, secure, and proud people are because of such possessions and how despondent [and depressed] they are when the possessions no longer exist or are withdrawn. Therefore I repeat that the chief explanation of this point is that to “have a God” is to have something in which the heart entirely trusts.”
So “If your faith and trust is right then your God is also true. On the other hand if your trust is false and wrong [for instance like if your trust is in money or possessions or on your skills] then you do not have the true God. Faith and God belong together. Whatever you set your heart on and put your trust in is truly your god.”
True faith and trust of the heart which clings to the resurrected Christ Jesus alone has the True God and no false idol, no false god. The Risen Lord Jesus by way of the 1st Commandment says to you, “let Me alone be your God and never seek another. In other words whatever you lack of good things expect it from Me, look to Me for it, and whenever you suffer misfortune and find yourself in distress cling to Me. Hold fast to Me. I, yes I, will give you enough and help you out of every need, only do not let your heart cleave to, or rest on, any other. Don’t put your fear, love, and trust in something other than Me.” This is what Jesus asks of you, this is what God asks of you. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me.”
While Jesus is perfect man, He is not only man, He is God. He is your God and in Him you have forgiveness even for the times you break this 1st Commandment. He is God for you even when you say, “[Lord] I believe; help my unbelief!” Ask for His forgiveness. Ask and you shall receive it.
Therefore, when He asks "Who do you say I am?" and you must answer. Be strong and confess “You are the Christ!” You are Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” The Risen One, the Living One: He who was dead, and behold, the One who is alive forevermore. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! 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 Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Matthew 16:15; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20
 John 5:18
 Exodus 3:14
 John 8:58
 John 10:30-33
 This quick overview of the question “Did Jesus Claim to Be God?” comes from Hank Hanegraaff. I can't vouch for everything on this website but this particular post is a good introductory overview for this topic.
 Galatians 1:1
 Revelation 1:17-18
 Mark 2:12
 Mark 4:41
 Mark 5:42
 Mark 6:51
 Mark 9:6
 John 11:17-44
 Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
 Luke 12:16-21, “And [Jesus] told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
 Concordia The Lutheran Confessions - Pocket Edition, Luther’s Large Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2006, Pg 488-489.
 Ibid, 488.
 Ibid, Pg. 488.
 John 14:1
 Mark 9:24
 Mark 8:29
 John 20:28