Monday, April 18, 2022

Remember and Believe. . .

 Sermon for Easter Late, preached on Sunday, April 17, 2022 by the Rev. Daniel M. Ulrich.


Alleluia! Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

    It’s understandable that they’d forget.  Life had been a rollercoaster for them the past three days.  Within just 24 hours the disciples saw Jesus betrayed and arrested, mocked and beaten, sentenced to death, and then finally crucified.  After going through all of that, who could blame someone for forgetting a few things?  And that’s the point.  We forget things.  All the time we forget things; so we need to be reminded.  We need to be reminded that Jesus died on the cross for us.  We need to be reminded that He rose from the dead on the 3rd day.  And we need to be reminded that we too will rise on the last day.   

    It’d be a gross understatement for me to say that we are forgetful people.  Yes, some of us have better memories than others; but all of us forget things from time to time.  We forget about important dates in our lives, so we put them in our Google calendars.  We forget about appointments, doctor visits and meetings, so we set up reminders and notifications.  We forget about our vacations and trips and other special events, so we take pictures and videos. We forget about all the chores that need done around the house, so we make to-do lists and post them on the refrigerator.  We forget, so we do things to help us remember. And so does God.  He does things to help us remember.  He sent two angels to Jesus’ tomb to help the women remember.  

    When the women went to Jesus’ tomb early that first Easter they were expecting to see it all sealed up with that large stone.  They remembered how Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus’ lifeless body and they came to finish that rushed burial.  But when they got there they didn’t see the stone, and they didn’t see Jesus’ lifeless body.  Instead, they saw two men in dazzling clothing, two angels.  Just imagine what must’ve been going through their heads: sorrow, confusion, fear, anxiety, surprise; a rollercoaster of emotion, a perfect storm for forgetfulness.  And in the midst of all of that the angels spoke their message of remembrance.  “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  [Jesus isn’t here, He’s risen.]  Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee.” (Lk 24:5).  

    What happened to Jesus on Good Friday and what He did on Easter Sunday, He already told His disciples that it was going to happen.  Right after Peter’s great confession, when he faithfully called Jesus the Christ of God, Jesus told them what that meant.  “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Lk 9:22).  And that wasn’t the only time He told them that.  At least three times He specifically told them about His death and resurrection (Lk 9:22, 44; 18:31-34), and that doesn’t included all the other times He alluded to it; like when He talked about the sign of Jonah (Lk 11:29-32).  But the disciples didn’t remember.  They forgot His Word…just like we do.  

    We forget Jesus’ Word.  We forget God’s Word.  We forget about what He says concerning sin and death and the devil.  We look at the broken relationships in our lives, at all the hate and division in our society, and we wonder where it all comes from?  We see confusion in our world about basic truths: the definitions of man and woman and marriage and questions about when life begins, and we shrug our shoulders not knowing what to say.  We suffer illness and sickness and disease and ask “Why?”  We read and hear about wars around the world and all the senseless acts of violence in our communities and we’re left fearful and dismayed.  We don’t know what to do about all of this because we’ve forgotten what God has said about all this.  

God’s Word tells us why the world is the way it is.  He tells us why we struggle and suffer the things we do.  It’s because of our sin.  It’s because of the sin of others.  Sin and Satan has brought about all this confusion and violence and suffering.  Sin has brought death into God’s world.  Sin is the cause…and there’s nothing we can do about it.  Only God can save us from it; and He has in His Son.  

Christ’s sacrificial death on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday is the answer to sin, death, and the devil.  Dying on the cross, Christ paid the price of our sin.  He suffered the just punishment of death for our sin.  He shed His blood to atone for our sin, and because of that you’re forgiven.  Your guilt and shame are taken away.  No longer do you stand under God’s judgment.  Christ suffered that for you.  He died for you.  And when He walked out of that tomb on Easter morning, He overcame death and the grave for you.  He won eternal life for you.  That’s is the Gospel.  That’s what our Christian life and faith are all about.  That’s what God’s Word is about.  And that’s what we need to remember.  

It seems like such an easy thing to remember and yet we forget.  We forget Christ died for our sins, paying that price for us, so we try to earn forgiveness through holier living.  We forget Christ has overcome the enemy of death, and so we make peace with death, thinking at times death is better than life.  We forget that Christ, who is the Way the Truth and the Life, has defeated Satan, so we fall for his lies.  We forget, but God doesn’t.  He is faithful and just.  He remembers you and He remembers what His Son has done for you.  He remembers His promises to you, He reminds you of those promises.  

    Our Lord sent angels to remind the women at the tomb, and still He sends messengers to remind you today.  God sends out His pastors and missionaries and teachers and DCE’s and faithful parents and friends and neighbors to remind you.  He brings you here, to this place, to hear His Word and the saving Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection for you proclaimed here every Sunday.  He brings you here so that you will remember and receive the forgiveness of sins through His absolving words.  He brings you here to remember and receive your crucified and risen Savior in the Holy Supper of His body and blood.  So hear His Word.  Remember what Christ did for you.  Remember and believe what He says to you.  Remember and believe in His salvation and resurrection promised to you.   

The angels’ message at the tomb to the women was to remember; remember and believe what Jesus said.  And the women went back to the disciples with that same message.  They went to Peter, James, and John and all the rest of them and told them to remember and believe.  God still speaks that message to you today.  Remember and believe.  Remember and believe in your Savior who died for your sin.  Remember and believe in His forgiveness.  Remember and believe in Christ who rose from the dead.  Remember and believe that because He lives, so will you.  Remember and believe in your resurrection, because that’s exactly what God has promised you.  In Jesus’ name…Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen.  He is risen indeed. Alleluia!


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