Easter “Fear & Great Joy”
April 12th, 2020 – Matthew 28:8
May you get from God the good you have not deserved, not get the bad you have deserved, and may you have peace in your hearts from our risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
He is risen! R. He is Risen, Indeed! Alleluia!
It is safe to say that this Easter will be unlike any Easter we have ever seen. We will not be gathered together this morning with our voices loud practicing for our upcoming time in heaven as a throng before God’s throne singing His praises.
We will not be meeting together for an Easter lunch or dinner to celebrate.
We will be separated, distanced, from one another. We will be separated by space, and even time depending on when people tune in to this service. We will not partake in one physical cup in communion this morning. We will not be gathered together in one building.
Our regular show of unity will not be visible. Yet, it is not the one common communion cup we drink out of which unites us. It is not this one building we gather in which unites us (for we are still unified every morning at our two different locations where we worship). It is not even the name we give ourselves as Lutherans which unites us.
Only one thing truly unites us, and it is not something we do. What unites us is Christ. What unites us it the forgiveness we all share because He died and rose again for us! Alleluia! What unites us is our one baptism into His name and that God has woven us together as Jesus’ own body.
We are woven together as His one body which died and rose again. And just like His body, we too will die and rise again after Him.
It is that rising again that brings us great joy this Easter morning!
Even in our great joy, we can have fear. We can have fear this morning over not being able to meet. We can have fear of this virus. We can have fear of death. We can have fear of politics in the world. We can have fear in the chaos and the unknown. Even, perhaps, we can have fear of the risen Christs.
The guards who were guarding the tomb were nearly scared to death of the angel who announced the good news. The text says they “became like dead men”!
The women were afraid when they came to see the empty tomb. Afraid of the angel who announced the good news that Jesus was not there because He had risen! They were afraid of even Jesus when He met them. After taking hold of Jesus and worshipping Him, the resurrected Jesus still had to comfort them saying “do not be afraid.”
When you meet our resurrected Jesus, how will you feel? Perhaps you have known your meeting has been coming all along. Perhaps you have grown up with the knowledge that you would one day see Jesus. The disciples had been told over and over again by Jesus that He would die and rise again. But when He does it, they are in shock, they are overwhelmed by the fact that it actually happened. They are afraid!
When Jesus stares you right in the face, right in the eyes, at the resurrection, would you not be afraid? Would you not be overwhelmed at the sight of God and the sight of your once-dead-and-risen-again saviour?
What is fear? What is being afraid? Fear is being in awe. Fear is being scared of the danger. Fear is being scared of the unknown. Fear can be paralyzing like the guards were afraid. Fear can be overwhelming.
Fear will not be our only emotion – not now and not when we rise.
The women felt fear but not only fear. At the news, they felt fear and great joy!
With Christ’s resurrection, fear is not all we encounter. We encounter fear and GREAT JOY! Today, because of this great encounter with the remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus we have joy. We have joy no matter the separation we encounter, the corruption in this world, the evil, the virus, wars, chaos, or anything else!
When we meet Jesus face to face, we may have fear, but it will not be fear over our sins. When we meet Jesus we will not be afraid of our just punishment. Our risen Lord has taken away all our sins and has made us white as snow. Our risen Lord has taken our punishment to the grave and has risen again free of sins burden. This morning, as we encounter Jesus where He says He will be found, in His Word, we have joy – not just joy, but like the women, we have GREAT joy! We have great Joy because He is alive in heaven. We have joy because our sins are forgiven. We have joy because Jesus is coming back again to give us a new life.
We have great joy because “He is Risen! R. He is risen indeed, Alleluia!”
Alleluia! Thanks be to God.