Easter Sunday, (April 5, 2015)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
TITLE: “The Stone is Rolled Away”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Mark chapter sixteen.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed. Alleluia!
In the midst of grief, planning goes out the window. The women are not prepared for this stone. It probably weighed nearly two tons. There is no possible way they could move it by themselves. But in their grief, this never occurred to them. They came to the tomb, and it is only on their way to the tomb that they ask themselves the question, ““Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”” (Mark 16:3 ESV)
Death is the great interruption to life. It messes things up, changes plans, it is deeply, profoundly wrong, and no amount of pious thinking or talk can change it. Death causes problems that nothing, nothing can seem to fix. The women were weighed down with grief, that weight which it feels no one can lift. They can hardly even lift up their eyes for their sorrow.
Have you been there? Has sorrow and grief and sin and pain weighed you down? Sickness and death, sin and sorrow seem to all melt together into one big pile of gunk for us, so much so that it seems nothing can get through, things can never get better, that our sorrows and challenges will never end.
And these problems are not simply about attitude. It is not a matter of “buck up, little camper, put on a happy face and everything will get better!” Your salvation cannot come from positive attitude. One pastor put it this way,
If we or the world could be saved through human kindness or clear thinking, Jesus either would have formed a sensitivity group and urged us to share our feelings or would have founded a school and asked us to have discussions.
But knowing the ways of God, the way of the world, and the persistence of human sin, He took up the cross, called disciples, gathered the Church, and bade us follow Him down a different path of freedom. William H. Willimon
No, death is real, sin is real, the chains that weigh you down are oh so very real. You need someone to roll away the tomb. You need someone to do something beyond what you could ever do. You don’t need simply a sympathetic ear or a better ideas. You need a Savior. You need a Lord and Redeemer who will draw you back from death and the grave. You need a God who will rescue you. In a word, you need Jesus.
And you have Him.
When the women looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Things had changed. At first they were alarmed. But the angel tried to console 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.”” (Mark 16:6–7 ESV)
Sometimes good news takes a while to sink in. They fled with astonishment and fear. Death seemed to real, the tomb and stone was so big and impossible, how is it that Jesus could rise from the dead?
Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. Now was, is. That reality takes time to sink in. But make no mistake, beloved, it will sink in. Your life is now one of coming to recognize the mercies of God in Jesus Christ for you. You by yourself are dead and broken, but in Him, you are alive forevermore. You were once an enemy of God, but in Him God now calls you friend. You were once lost, but now in Him you are on the path of righteousness and faith.
But it’s hard to remember who you are in Him. Left to yourself, you cannot be saved. But you are not left to yourself. In his book, The Hammer of God, Bo Giertz writes the following:
“One does not choose a Redeemer for oneself, you understand, nor give one’s heart to Him. The heart is a rusty old can on a junk heap. A fine birthday gift, indeed! But a wonderful Lord passes by, and has mercy on the wretched tin can, sticks His walking cane through it and rescues it from the junk pile and takes it home with him. That is how it is.” Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God, 147
A wonderful Lord has passed you by. He is risen from the dead, and taken you home with him, cleaned you up in Holy Baptism, and now sets you up at His Table to eat and drink with Him forever. Come now, and receive the crucified and risen Body and Blood of Jesus Christ for you. Come and rejoice with angels and archangels, with Mary and the women, with Peter and the disciples, and with saints gone past and saints yet to come. Sit at the banquet table of God. The stone is rolled away. Christ is alive forevermore. Do not be afraid. Your life is secure in Him.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed. Alleluia!
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.