What just happened? Women running from an open tomb after seeing a young man dressed in white telling them not to be alarmed. Jesus isn’t there. He is in Galilee. The women run away. They were afraid, trembling with astonishment. They couldn’t speak.
Why be so joyful over such a strange account of the greatest moment in human history? That’s the mystery before us today. Saint Mark’s account of the resurrection is a strange one, at least to us. You expect Jesus to be there, either in the tomb awaiting them or outside the tomb ready to show Himself. No Jesus. No corporeal Jesus anywhere. He’s gone.
That’s the point, isn’t it? Oh, sure, you could get suckered into thinking the disciples rolled away the stone, stole the body, found another grave no one will ever find, and then the last deception is as worse as the first, just like the religious authorities told Pontius Pilate in Matthew’s Passion account.
The point here, though, is that there is no Jesus in the tomb. He’s in Galilee, just as He said He would be. No more hiding His divine nature except in the occasional disappearing act or the occasional miraculous sign. Jesus comes and goes as He pleases, first to Galilee, then into a locked room, then on the beach by the lake with breakfast ready for His disciples.
What just happened? Death has been swallowed up by victory. Death has no grip on us. Jesus has destroyed death and the power of the devil forever. The angel guarding Eden with a flaming sword has disappeared. Access to the Tree of Life is no longer blocked. Jesus dies on the tree of life to pay for your sins. Jesus rests in the tomb as your Sabbath rest. Jesus bursts forth from the tomb as the forerunner of your bursting forth from the tomb on the Last Day.
Once you were children of wrath, in slavery to sin and preparing for eternal condemnation. Jesus’ resurrection makes His Father your heavenly Father. You receive everlasting life, the joy of heaven, with all spiritual and eternal possessions promised by our Father in heaven. No more wrath. No more judgment to condemnation. No more eternal chastisement. All the Father’s wrath goes on Jesus in His death. The benefits of Christ’s death are yours in believing Jesus has covered your sin in His blood. The curse of sin is gone. You are holy and righteous in the Father’s sight. You have the right to seek and receive help from Him in every need. In hearing His Word of reconciliation, the Holy Spirit with that preached Word is a testimony that you are connected to God and He is connected to you in your Baptism.
We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song. You receive the benefits of Christ’s victory over death in this house from my hands as from Jesus Himself. Every good work that you do to save yourself means nothing to our heavenly Father. Let your good works shine before your neighbor, so that they are able to see the joy of Jesus Christ at work among them.
Instead of trying to work for your eternity, receive eternity here and make it your own by hearing His joyful forgiveness in preaching and in the Lord’s Supper. From pulpit and altar flow the antidote for a wounded conscience. Day after day Satan works to sully your conscience by flinging your sins in your face, making you think that Jesus can’t possibly cover your sin and give you a happy conscience. That’s exactly what our Savior does. Every sin is covered, dead, and buried. Your conscience is happy because Christ fills you with His joy in His house. In the end, when death arrives, you fall asleep in Christ with the certain hope of a happy reunion in the life of the world to come. Jesus has made sure you have that happy reunion because He has passed from death into life for you.
Now that Christ has triumphed over death, now that your conscience is again clean and happy, you are able to open your lips and lives to rejoice in the resurrection. When you are saddled with unbelief and Satan’s siren calls of false security, flee to the Scriptures. Be cloaked in the joy that sets you free in the Living Word. Call on Christ with confidence. You have unfettered access to your heavenly Father Who is all ears to your requests. That is what Jesus means by seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Stay close to Jesus where He is found in preaching and the Sacraments. Rejoice in your baptism. Eat His Body. Drink His Blood. Sing hymns. Speak the Psalms. Tell Satan to take a hike, for he has nothing on you because of Jesus.
What just happened? The greatest HEY, WATCH THIS! moment ever. God has saved His people once again, this time not in an ark or passing through the Red Sea on dry ground or sparing Isaac from Abraham’s knife or by a fourth man in a fiery furnace or by lions who won’t eat Daniel. God has saved His people in His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. He turns your wailing into dancing. He destroys death. He gives life. Fix your eyes on Jesus. He alone is your hope for eternity.