Sermon / Pr. Ted Giese / Sunday March 27th 2016 - / Luke 24:1-12 / The Peace of Christ in a World of Anxiety
Easter Sunday / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted Giese - / Luke 24:1-12 / The Peace of Christ in a World of Anxiety
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered His words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marvelling at what had happened.
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. Anxiety feels like you're suffocating, like being stuck in your own head, weighed down by your own brain. Peter and John and the rest of the remaining disciples, Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the rest of Jesus' followers looked at the rising sun on the Saturday of what we now call Holy Week and as they looked to the dawn of that day Jesus was dead. The event of what we now call Good Friday, the crucifixion was over, everything was over. What was next? Were they next? Was the end coming for them? Would they be rounded up like Jesus? Would they have a mock trial? Would they be crucified or stoned to death for having followed Jesus? Or would they be publicly humiliated for their faith in Jesus?
Once Peter and the disciples gathered back together, after things had calmed down and the pilgrims to Jerusalem continued their Passover celebrations without that pesky Jesus, it was back to the upper room that they gathered. The upper room where they had received Holy Communion for the first time from the hand of Jesus, where Jesus had washed their feet, where Judas has left the table to go and betray Jesus. Back in that upper room they sat paralyzed in anxiety, and as the disciple John, who had stood at the foot of the cross says, in that place they sat, "the doors being locked ... for fear of the Jews," for fear of their own countrymen, for fear of their fellow Jews. The doors locked until the evening of Easter Day.
Saturday was the Sabbath, a day of rest, no work was to be done that day, but the women were anxious to finish the work of properly burying Jesus. He lay there in the tomb where they saw Joseph of Arimathea lay His cold dead body and their minds were on honouring the body of their teacher, the one they loved - the one who loved them. They waited for the first day of the week, for Sunday, so that they could go to the tomb, so they could bring the spices they had prepared. They waited. For the Men, for the Women, for all of them everything had ground to a halt and anxiety settled in on them like a dark cloud - the future was black.
The black darkness of anxiety can creep into everyone's life, sometimes it pounces on us, sitting on our chest with all the weight of the world (A cancer diagnosis, physical or sexual abuse from someone you trust and love, loss of employment, diminished ability, dementia, a sudden and tragic accident, unexpected hospitalization, suicide, the death of a love one). These and other things in this fallen world are riddled with sin and trouble, sin and trouble that tempt us to despair and when we think of the fallen nature of the world and ourselves in it - let us not forget that the horrors of sin go past our physical bodies, the horrors of sin riddle our minds, our thoughts, our words, our deeds, they are all broken by sin. The same sin that was put on Christ Jesus, the same sin in the abstract and in the particular that Jesus, "set aside, nailing it [all] to the cross." Every failure to live and think and act in the perfection of God nailed to the cross in the Body of Jesus.
At the time Peter and John and the rest of the remaining disciples, Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the rest of Jesus' followers couldn't see it. All they saw was their Jesus dead on the cross, buried in the tomb. They couldn't see how they and their sin had died there with Him, they couldn't see how all of that sin - the sin that was, the sin that plagued their daily life, the sin that was yet to be - was nailed there. Even in that early morning on Easter as the women went to the tomb they were filled with anxiety, even as they courageously risked going there, they worried, "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?” Who will rollaway that heavy stone? It is too heavy for us, who will roll it away? Who?
At the foot of the cross of Friday, hidden away in the locked upper room of Saturday, on the road to the tomb on what we now call Easter Morning did any of them remember what Jesus had said to them, when He said, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" Did Jesus say this to calm their fears or anxieties? To calm our fears or anxieties? Or did He say it for this reason, that in Him we have no need to “be anxious about [our] life” because our, heavenly Father knows we need all of these things. All of these things and more. We need our Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and hung there dead in our place: The Father knows that we also need our Jesus - His son - to walk out of the tomb alive on Easter morning; The resurrected Jesus who eats with His disciples, who they touched with their own hands and looked upon with their own eyes and heard with their own ears, and not just His immediate disciples but to the more than five hundred brothers who Jesus appeared to at one time after His resurrection. God the Father knows we need our Jesus who on the day of His Ascension ascended to His Father and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Jesus, "who indeed is interceding for us." Who prays for us without ceasing. In Philippians Saint Paul says to you, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The heavy stone that covered Jesus' tomb that first Easter morning was no longer a thing to worry about: Not when they saw that it was rolled away from the tomb, when they saw that it was cast aside, and when they say that Jesus' body was no longer there. It was then that they heard the first Easter Sermon, the women there heard the angle say, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” [and hearing these words] they remembered [Jesus'] words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. The anxiety lifted away. With hurried feat they ran but afraid for joy of the news they had to deliver and overcome with happiness. In John's Gospel Mary Magdalene still reeling from what was taking place before her eyes mistook Jesus for the gardener, "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”
By the end of the evening on that first Easter Jesus had stood in that upper room - entering in even though the door was still locked, He stood there with His disciples and said to them, "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” And when [Jesus] had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” After that there was no need to lock the door any more, no need to be afraid, no fear of being rounded up, being put on trial for Jesus, no fear of being beaten or crucified or stoned to death for following Jesus. No fear of being publicly humiliated for their faith in Jesus - the anxiety of all of these things evaporated, lifted off of them. They would face these hardships, they would face death but there Jesus stood before them and Jesus had defeated death. As John would write in his Gospel, "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." The same Jesus who said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." Had proven Himself to be "Faithful and True," and He just said, "Peace be with you." He was sending them.
You think to yourself, they found peace, I am still full of anxiety. I need that peace. Do not seek after that peace in the World, you won't find it in sex or money or free time, you won't find it in sports or in your children, or at the bottom of a bottle, or in fame, all of these things pass away just as everything that worries you will pass away. On the last day it will all pass away forever and you will stand made new, Jesus says “Behold, I am making all things new.” All things includes you: What you are now, what you think you are now, what troubles you, what gets you angry, what makes you afraid, all of it will be left in the grave when you are raised up on The Last Day, and there it will stay. Jesus will make your body, transform your lowly body, "to be like His glorious by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself." This is not self help - you cannot do this for yourself - He does this for you. And in that body, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ... And ... You shall love your neighbour as yourself." You will do this without sin on That Day, on The Last Day, your heart will love without fear, your soul will love in purity and truth, your mind will love unbroken by sadness or anxiety.
Keep in mind that the Christian faith is not a faith without action, for as James says in his Epistle, "faith apart from works is dead." You now, in your baptism are alive in Christ, He is your life, take care of each other, take care of your family and friends, those you serve in your work, those you do not know, those who hate you. Love them all with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind even thought today your heart and soul and mind and body are imperfect and broken, even though they are shot through with sin, even though they are locked up with fear and anxiety - remember Jesus comes in even though the door is be locked and He brings you forgiveness for your sin and peace in your hour of need.
Today then, and tomorrow, until that Last Day we stand on the Word of God, the witness of the disciples and followers of Jesus. Of himself, and of them, St. Peter said, "For 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." And on the night in which He was betrayed, the night before His crucifixion Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." The greeting of the risen Lord Jesus to Peter and the rest, to you is, "peace be with you."
But I want to see Him today, I want to hear His voice and touch Him as they did! Peace to Mary Magdalene in the garden, peace to you, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!" You can confess this too! Like Peter and John and the rest of the remaining disciples, Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the rest of Jesus' followers you will see Jesus face to face. You will see His hands and feet, you will see His side, you will hear His voice with your own ears, you will touch Him and He will say, "peace be with you - peace forever and ever." 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.
 John 20:19
 Colossians 2:14
 Mark 16:2-3
 Matthew 6:25-27
 Matthew 6:32
 Hebrews 12:2
 1 Corinthians 15:6
 Romans 8:34
 Philippians 4:6-7
 John 20:15-18
 John 20:20-23
 John 1:4-5
 John 14:6
 Revelation 21:5
 Philippians 3:21
 Matthew 22:37-39
 James 2:26
 2 Peter 1:16
 John 14:27
 Job 19:25-27