April 16, 2017 – Easter
by Pastor Pete Scheele
Read Matthew 28:1 – 10
Grace and peace to you as you stand at the cross of Christ in victory, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
It’s probably no surprising to you that the world’s largest high definition digital billboard now exists right in the middle of New York City’s Times Square. This billboard is unlike any you’ve ever seen. It spans an entire city block and is visible from any vantage point in Times Square. The billboard can be clearly seen whether it’s broad daylight or two o’clock in the morning because of the countless little lights built right into this billboard. Advertisers are promised that more than two million people will see their advertisement every single week.
Now Times Square has been called “The Crossroads of the World.” Because about 460,000 people visit Times Square every day and more than 500,000 vehicles pass through Times Square every week. If you want to send a message to a significant portion to the world, this may quite possibly be the best way to do it. You can send your message day or night, night or day, every day of the year, with people from all over America and all over the world viewing your most important message, whatever it may be.
In Martin Luther’s sermon for Easter of 1532, he said these words to his congregation: “The words, Christ is risen from the dead, should be blazon and inscribe with letters so large that just one letter would be as large as a steeple, yes, as heaven and earth, so that we would see and hear, know and think of, nothing but this incredible message.” Luther could never have imagined a high definition digital billboard in Times Square, but he most certainly had a very similar grandiose idea nearly 500 years ago. Think of this, make each letter of the statement ‘Christ is risen from the dead’ as big as a 20-story building and place them on top a mountain, like Mt. Rosalie, so that anyone who is traveling along Hwy 285 or out on the plans could see them for miles. Use whatever means necessary, Martin Luther said, to shout out to the world that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. That’s how important this day is to all the world.
Today we celebrate the fact that Eden, the paradise of God, has been recreated and made new again for us. Now we know that Adam and Eve brought sin into the world with their web of deceit and lies. With sin came our most cruel enemy: death. With death came the destruction of everything that was perfect and good. Eden was destroyed and life would now come to an end for every living plant and creature in the world.
Our own little paradise has been destroyed with our own personal web of deceit and lies. Death has entered our lives, our families and our community. Every human being lives in fear of death. No human being can ever escape it. It is the enemy we must all face. Thanks to Adam and Eve paradise has been lost. But the blame rests squarely on us, as well, because we have done everything that Adam and Eve did to separate us from our creator God. We can’t escape the words: “I have sinned by my fault, by my own fault, by my own most grievous fault.” Yes, death came into the word by a man a long time ago, but we also put nails in our own coffin. The message we advertise with our own lives is far more often sinful, selfishness and deadly.
We are the walking dead of the world without Jesus. But two bright angels have a proclamation for us today: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay.” (Mt. 28:5-6) The crucifixion of Christ has done more than paid the price for our selfish sins. The resurrection of Christ is the deposit guaranteeing our own resurrection is now possible. All those who have been baptized into the death and resurrection of Jesus have put on Christ in their life. We have been given the foundational gift of faith. We have certain hope that because of Christ’s resurrection we too shall rise from the dead to live for all eternity. The prophet Hosea predicted long ago what would come to pass: “After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him.” (Ho.6:2)
“Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
That’s the guarantee for our future. Eternal death is destroyed. We will be raised from physical death to live with God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for all eternity in His perfect Love, Peace and Joy. Paradise is now restored for us, ready and waiting for our own entry at some point in time all because of what God through Jesus Christ has done for us.
In the meantime, Almighty God has created His own high definition light-up billboard to proclaim to the world, “Christ is risen from the dead!” It’s not confined just to Times Square. It doesn’t just reach two million people per week. It is on display anywhere and everywhere God’s people go, because each and every one of us are the light of God’s billboard that is proclaiming the Good News of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection to all that we see, visit and communicate with. It is as high and as wide and as deep as the world. It spans from east to west and from north to south. Yes, as we let our light shine in the world the Good News of Christ resurrection from the dead is being proclaimed to million and billions of people who are living in the darkness of their sin and looking for a way out of death.
You and me are the lights of Christ. You and me are His banner and billboard. All of God’s people, wherever we live, are little Christs shining the light of His resurrection where every we go and whatever we do. Almighty God sends His message day and night, night and day, every day of the year, through His people who are alive and living. Martin Luther knew that one little life is enough to shine the eternal light for someone who hopelessly lives in darkness of their sins. Just imagine the impact when God’s people come together to light up this dark world. It’s far brighter than the brightest billboard ever made. It is a light that is never snuffed out. This light cannot be quenched, even by death, because it lives on for an eternity as the Holy Spirit works in the lives of people like you and me through God’s Word.
Most importantly today, this light is for you. “Christ is risen from the dead for you!” He is “the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Adam’s death has no mastery over us anymore. Sin no longer has any mastery over us. Satan and all the evil of this world have no mastery over us. Christ’s resurrection reigns supreme. He is the Light of the World. He now lives His life and shines His light through you and me. Today, and always, we “see and hear, know and think of, nothing but this incredible message for; “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” And that makes a different in our lives now and for all eternity. This is the Good News that we need to share with the world today and every day of our life so that it can make a difference in the lives of others and in the world that we live in. Amen.