He is risen indeed!
April 2, 2012
by Rev. David R. Erbel, St. Peter Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

This coming Sunday, you, too, can join Christians throughout the world and joyfully shout the Easter message: He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

The events of Holy Week look different through the lens of the cross and the empty tomb.

Why would Jesus journey to Jerusalem, on Palm Sunday, knowing what awaited him there?

Why would the Son of God wash dirty feet on Maundy Thursday?

Why would the Son of God, do what He did at the Passover meal, as it says in Mark 14:22-24: “Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it, this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. ‘This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. . .’”

Why would the King of kings choose a cross for His throne?

The answers lie in the cross and empty tomb and what God accomplishes through them. And when we look at the events of our own life through the lens of the cross and the empty tomb, everything looks different.

Through the eyes of the world, the crucifixion appeared to be the failure of yet another would-be messiah. But, through the eyes of faith, we see it as God’s victory over sin and death.

Through the eyes of faith, we can see Christ at work in our own suffering and death.

Through the eyes of faith, we trust that we are never alone, living in the hope of restoration and redemption. 

Because of Jesus, you are precious to God. Paul says in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

A price was paid for your forgiveness, your life and salvation. And that price is the key in coming to grips with who you are and who you can be in Jesus, because of God’s grace for you.

When Jesus appeared to the disciples just after his resurrection from the dead, He came to one of them, called Thomas, and showed him the nail marks in His hands and feet. It was as if Jesus was saying, “Look, Thomas, I’m not only telling you that you are precious to me – I’ve paid the price to make it so.”

Those nail-pierced hands from Good Friday tell us the same thing, too. Let me illustrate this truth with a story told by the Christian writer, Leslie Flynn.

“An orphaned boy was living with his grandmother when the house caught fire. The grandmother, trying to get upstairs to rescue the boy, perished in the flames. The boy’s cries for help were finally answered by a man who climbed an iron drainpipe and came back down with the boy hanging tightly to his neck.

“Several weeks later, a public hearing was held to determine who would receive custody of the child. A farmer, a teacher, and the town’s wealthiest citizen all gave the reasons they felt that they should be chosen to give the boy a home. But as they talked, the lad’s eyes remained focused on the floor.

“Then a stranger walked to the front and slowly took his hands from his pockets, revealing severe scars on them. As the crowd gasped, the boy cried out in joyful recognition. This was the man who had saved his life. His hands had been burned when he climbed the hot pipe.

“With a leap, the boy threw his arms around that man’s neck and he held on for dear life. The other men silently walked away, leaving the boy and his rescuer alone. Those marred hands had settled the issue.”

When Jesus stretched out His hands to die on the cross, He did that for you. You have been bought with a price. Your salvation – your forgiveness – your life – your freedom by faith – has been paid for by the very blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Your sin, your struggle became His, so that His life – His worth – and His salvation could be yours.

Easter Sunday is a time of celebration, when we give thanks and rejoice at our new life in God’s kingdom. This is a time of renewed hope. We, too, are blessed to join Christians throughout the world and proclaim: He is risen! He is risen indeed!