Jesus makes our bodies rest secure
- Order of Service: Divine Service I, CW:Supplement, p15
- Lessons: Isaiah 25:6-9, 1 Corinthians 15:19-26, Mark 16:1-8
- Hymns: 719, 720, 152, 157
In the name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
As most of you probably know, some tornadoes came close to Duncanville this week. Around one o’clock on Tuesday we heard the sirens at the parsonage. Then we listened to the litany of names: Lancaster, Hutchins, Garland, Kennedale, Arlington, Irving, Euless, Bedford, Grapevine, Dallas. Did we get nervous? Did you? Sure. We read the weather warning reports and saw Duncanville’s name in that list for a brief moment. We silently rehearsed in our minds our plan if the storm came our way. But then it became clear that the storms had settled east and west of Duncanville. It seemed that only rain (and some hail) were in our future. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gifts.
And then I remembered that I had no reason to be afraid. Our Lord did not fear being forsaken by His Father. So far from fearing being forsaken by His Father, Jesus rejoiced in what was coming. It pleased Him. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we have the innermost thoughts of Christ in the hours just before His greatest suffering began and know that these were the thoughts and feelings of Jesus. We have the words of David, which Peter assures us in Acts 2 are the words of Christ. I refer to Psalm 16: Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips. Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Some of you might be wanting me to back the truck up a bit. Don’t the Gospels report to us that Jesus said, My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death (Matthew 26:38)? And further, Take this cup from me (Luke 23:42)? Yes, they do. But they also report Jesus saying, Yet not my will, but yours be done (Luke 23:42) and the Scriptures must be fulfilled (Mark 14:49), and, further, that an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him (Luke 23:43). Then Jesus went and did what Jesus came to do. He finished living for us by dying for us.
His strength and confidence, however, He found in knowing what came next. The resurrection: You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. The Father crushed His Son, and yet, just as Isaiah prophesied, that Son saw the light of life (Isaiah 53:10-11). And all that first Easter Jesus displayed Himself to His followers: Mary Magdalene, Peter, the Eleven. They saw that Jesus had abandoned the grave. They saw that three days in a tomb left no hint of corruption on Christ – no decay! They saw the imperishable and immortal Christ risen from the dead!
This means they saw their own resurrection. Paul called Him the firstfruits of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians this morning. He said, For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in His own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to Him (1 Corinthians 15:22-23). This means we see our own resurrection. We too know the plan and the future. We know what comes next: On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ (Small Catechism, Third Article). We know it because Jesus tells us and Jesus shows us. Our seeing our own resurrection isn’t just a mental and emotional trip. Our spirits aren’t simply swooped up into heaven. We don’t simply feel alive today. The resurrection enters your ears through the angel’s proclamation: You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here (Mark 16:6). And through your ears into your hearts. And just in case you weren’t paying attention then, the resurrected Lord comes even nearer to you. He places the resurrection into your hands and onto your tongues this morning: The body of Christ, given for you. The blood of Christ, shed for you. The body and blood that stood before shocked Mary. The body and blood that walked with those two disciples walking to Emmaus. That body and blood that ate in front of the Eleven, and a week later let Thomas reach into the wounds on His hands and sides.
I warn you, do not treat the angel’s words like mere words, a nice story, a pious fable, or, almost worse, that thing you’ve heard so many times before and now, well, what more can I learn? They are none of those things – they are our life! And do not treat Christ’s Holy Supper as just a ritual that Christians do because God – or worse, their pastors – say so, or because it happened to be on the altar today when you came to church. It is not that – it is your life! And do not treat Easter as one more in a litany of never-ending Hallmark-approved holidays. It is not that – Easter is your life! This morning the LORD prepares a feast of rich food for you, the best and the finest, the eternal feast of forgiveness won at cross and tomb, and He gives it to you. This morning, as you swallow Christ, He swallows up death – your death, and makes Psalm 16 your psalm: Because He is at my right hand – later, in my right hand – I will not be shaken…. My heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
That’s Easter – not just today, but every Sunday! And not just Sunday, but every day we live in faith in Christ! The Holy Spirit has made known to us the paths of life, eternal life, which gives peace to our bodies – just as He gave peace and security to Jesus’ body. Jesus rested secure because He knew the future. He knew Easter followed Good Friday. So do you. You have nothing to fear from tornados and hail. More than that, if you believe in Jesus you have nothing to fear from death, decay, and hell anymore either. May the Holy Spirit grant us such a faith, faith that moves us to not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1:9). Amen.