Sermon on Luke 24:1-12, for the Resurrection of our Lord, Easter Sunday, "Eternal Security"
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen!
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Greetings to my Emmanuel Lu- theran Ohana! I wanted to begin with a personal greeting to you all. It was just about a year ago that I came home for a brief visit to my family after Chaplain School, and preached for you on Palm Sunday. The past year has flown by with my deployment in Afghanistan, and now I am nearly home. As I am writing this, now on Easter Sunday evening, I am at Fort Bliss, TX, having completed my quarantine and getting ready to do the last couple of days of out processing tasks. I should be back on Maui before the end of the week! I look forward to seeing you all soon, though I still will have to complete another state ordered quarantine on return to Maui, but that at least will be in my home.
This Easter Sunday is unlike any in our recent memory, as for the first time that most (all?) of us can remember, we aren’t allowed to gather together. Additionally there seems to be a cloud of fear, uncertainty, and discouragement hanging over many people. With the spread of coronavirus and the effects of the shutdown on the economy and people’s jobs, it’s quite the time. But you know that means it’s not so different from the first Easter. The reasons were different, but the first Easter was also a time of fear, uncertainty, and discouragement, especially for the disciples. You remember that on Good Friday they saw their beloved Lord, Master, and Teacher being brutally whipped, scornfully mocked, and painfully crucified on the cross for our sins. They had set their hopes on Jesus, and it was devastating to witness Him die. When the women went to the tomb, it was in sadness and grief expecting to find a dead body. When the disciples stayed locked in their homes, it was out of fear and uncertainty.
But at the same time they were experiencing fear and uncertainty, others were experiencing a false sense of security and arrogance. The political and religious leaders had thought they had successfully done away with Jesus. They thought they had defeated Jesus and His movement by killing Him and blocking any hopes of the disciples by sealing the tomb and posting a guard. As humans we naturally spread across that spectrum of fear, uncertainty and discouragement on one end, to false security and boastfulness on the other. Or maybe we just experience a mild sense of unrest or lacking peace. But it’s natural for us to try to find some earthly security for our life, our jobs, and our physical safety.
Today we have many that had their false sense of security burst in regards to the ability of medical or technological means to fight off disease or preserve our health. Likewise with the security and stability of our economy. Everything has been thrown into disorder. We can’t conquer death, no matter how amazing our advances are. And I believe that the medical sciences and healing professions are a wonderful gift and can accomplish much good. But they are not our “savior” from death. If anything, this out- break reminds us that we are always in the reach of death, and that death
can occur unexpectedly from a variety of ways at almost any time. That could be a very gloomy reality depending on what we believe (or not) and how we respond.
The Bible speaks of another, far deadlier epidemic that is not in the news. The media has filled every webpage and news hour with coverage of the coronavirus, and amply explained the threat. But how would we put the threat of sin into words? In terms of an epidemic, it’s reached 100% of the population. Everyone is infected. In terms of the mortality, it’s 100% mortality. The wages of sin is death. And sin is deadly contagious. Sin leads to more sin. When we hurt or wrong someone by our words or actions, it spurs on more sins, with anger, retaliation, jealousy, etc. Sin goes viral whenever we return evil for evil. Sin is always multiplying, always escalating.
But what measures do we consider taking to restrain it’s effects? What lengths are we willing to go to in order to halt or slow it’s viral influence in our lives? We’re experts at rationalizing our sins away, or treating only the symptoms, or denying the threat. But the threat is real and more insidious than any viral outbreak.
In this life we generally focus on physical security, even though this life is finite anyways. But Jesus calls on us to find eternal security in Him by surrendering or losing this life. Jesus said that if we try to save this life we’ll lose it, but only if we lose our life we’ll find it for His sake. But only He can secure it
Look at the first Easter and consider how the fear and uncertainty of the disciples melted away when the Good News dawned on them. They came in fear, discouragement and uncertainty, but when they were confronted by the message of the angels that slowly transformed from surprise into joy! The angels said, ‘why do you look for the living among the dead! He is not here, He is risen!’ And they urged the women: REMEMBER what He told you. And they REMEMBERED that He had said He would be delivered over to the rulers, crucified, and rise from the dead.
In our uncertainty and fear we need to REMEMBER what Jesus said. Remember His death on the cross for our sins, so that we are forgiven. Remember His victory over the grave by His resurrection, and remember His teaching that gives us good news and life! And not only are we to remember what He said, but Jesus also REMEMBERS us. REMEMBER at the scene of the cross, what the thief said to Jesus? A man who had lived his whole life in sin up till that moment, in His dying breaths, repented and said to Jesus, “Lord, REMEMBER me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” And Jesus remembers us. We are His children, baptized and adopted into His family, and loved by Him, so that we are never forgotten.
In summary, let’s step back from the resurrection and consider what this Good News means for our life as Christians. What does it change? First of all, it doesn’t change the fact that life is filled with uncertainty. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we are promised a predictable life where we know everything that is coming around the next corner. But it DOES mean that Jesus changes the certainty of death in this life, into a certainty of eternal life with Him. For those who are fearful, uncertain, or discouraged, He gives courage and peace to our hearts. He Himself is our peace. Living a life by faith means that we entrust everything to His care and control (as all things are already in His control anyway!) We accept that reality as we live life, following Him through uncertain times. And we face them with a new confidence, because no matter what threatens our earthly life or security, we have the promise of eternal security and eternal life with Him. Not even death can separate us from His love. Our crucified and risen Lord is our eternal promise and hope! Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Amen. and Savior Jesus Christ! Amen!