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This Week's Sermon
31 March 2013

"Christ Overcame Death!"
John 20:1-18
Vicar William Traphagan

Soli Deo Gloria!

Vicar Traphagan

On the first Easter, Mary Magdalene's heart did not awake with gladness. She awoke with tears and weeping as she mourned Jesus' death. She went to the tomb and saw the stone rolled away. At first this sight did not comfort her, but surely intensified her sorrow. She ran to Peter and John and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."

Who could blame Mary for mourning as she did? Death is so bitter to us and it seems so final. This bitterness is not far from us and its taste still fresh as many of you mourn and grieve the loss of a spouse, parent, child, or friend. But this bitterness will not last forever and death is not the end; "In Christ shall all be made alive."1

Mary's sorrow was soon turned to joy and her heart made glad. She saw why the tomb was empty. She saw the resurrected Christ. He was dead no more, but alive. He overcame death and was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father!

Likewise, because Christ is raised your loved ones who have fallen asleep in Christ will be raised! The empty tomb that initially brought more tears to Mary's eyes became her joy. It has become our confidence that death has not won; it has no victory, because Christ has risen triumphant over death!

We needed this victory because death's dark veil had spread over the nations. We had been taken prisoner by Satan, enslaved to sin, and shackled with death. Death had a stranglehold on us and its final victory over us seemed sure.

On earth Satan has no equal, but God came down from heaven and Satan met the Valiant One, Christ Jesus our Lord. Christ defeated Satan and shattered the shackles of death. The tomb is empty; Christ has overcome death for us and opened the gate of everlasting life. Death does not have the final victory, because death is swallowed up forever in Christ's innocent suffering and death.

All of our sadness will be turned to gladness because God out of his love sent Christ into the flesh to overcome death and win the victory. It seemed as though death had beaten Christ when he was crucified for our sins and laid in the grave, but he was actually overwhelming death with his death.

"The foe in triumph shouted, when Christ lay in the tomb;
but lo, he now is routed, His boast is turned to gloom.
For Christ again is free; In glorious victory
He who is strong to save Has triumphed o'er the grave. (LSB 467, stanza 2, public domain)

Did you hear the end of that stanza? The tomb is empty. Christ is strong to save and has triumphed over the grave! Christ gives you that triumph over sin, death, and Satan through the Word and Sacraments.

In Holy Baptism, you are united with Christ in death and receive the promise that you will follow him out of the grave. Death will not hold you because it did not hold Christ. Death is drowned and the chains that once held you are broken by the power of the water included with God's Word.

In the preaching of the Gospel, Christ relieves your fears about the seeming finality of death with the absolute reality of his resurrection and the promise of your resurrection to come. In Holy Absolution, Jesus wipes away your tears and takes away your reproaches by his Word of forgiveness. In the Lord's Supper, you receive Jesus' flesh and blood for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. It is just as Jesus promised, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."2

We will be raised on the last day and the sadness of death will have been turned to gladness. Death is not final. In Christ, shall all be raised and made alive, not with these corrupted bodies, but with bodies glorified by God. It is just as Christ promised, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die."

Death is not final, it has been swallowed up in victory. Christ has overcome death and he has opened to us the gate of everlasting life. "O death where is your victory, O death where is your sting?" Christ lives and so shall we! Amen.

Now the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1 1 Corinthians 15:22
2 John 6:54

Update 04 April 2013
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