Easter Sunday

April 1, 2018

Pastor Mark F. Bartels



Gospel Lesson; John 20:1-18     

Epistle Lesson; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57

Sermon Text; John 20:9


Pastor Tweit already read the Epistle Lesson for Easter, and the Gospel Lesson for Easter.  I will be speaking about each of those, but in particular, I want to focus on one verse from the Gospel Lesson.  It is right in the middle of that Gospel Lesson, John chapter 20, verse nine.  It is actually in parenthesis.  It says,


(“They still did not yet understand the Scripture

that He must rise from the dead.”)


These are your words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



I heard a young pastor tell a story about taking his young family for a walk, right around Easter time.  He said it was a beautiful, sunny, day.  The girls, and his wife were up ahead.  The pastor/dad had his little three or four year old son with him.  His little son was riding a big wheel, but couldn't keep up with his sisters, as the girls were riding their bikes.  So, the dad and his little son were going along, together. 

All of a sudden, out of the clear blue, the little boy says to his pastor/dad, “Dad, Jesus died.” 

The pastor/dad thinks to himself, “Yeah, my little, three or four year old boy already theologically understands that Jesus died.”  Then, he thought, “That is great!”

And then, being the typical pastor he thought, “I am going to test my son a little bit, theologically.”  He looked at his little son, and said, “Son you are right, Jesus died.  And then, what?”

At this point they had stopped walking, and the little boy quizzically looked up at his dad, as if he didn't know the answer.

The pastor/dad thought to himself, “Well, I know he knows the answer.  He is probably a little, theological genius, and he is probably thinking to himself, 'Well, Dad, Jesus rose from the dead, and the theological implications are so huge, how do I say that to you in just a few words?'”

The dad looked at the little guy, who still kind of quizzically looked like he didn't know the answer to the question.  So, the dad said again to his little son, “Son, you are right, Jesus died, and then what?”

All of a sudden, it was like the light bulb went off, and the little guy knew the answer.  He was just about to say it, when Mom, and the girls got back.  As they were standing there, the pastor/dad thought, “This is my big chance to let our little son shine theologically in front of the whole family.”  So, the pastor/dad said to his wife, “Honey did you know Jesus died?”

She said, “Well, yeah.”

He said, “Our son just told me that.  Jesus died.”

Then, the pastor looked at his son, and said to the little guy, (whose eyes were wide, because he knew the answer), “Son, and then what?”

The little guy said, “And then, the Easter Bunny comes, and brings me candy!”

The pastor's wife looked at him, with a look in her eyes like, “You are his pastor.  This is your problem.”

The point is this.  It is Easter.  On Friday, we looked at the fact that Jesus died.  Today we are celebrating the fact that Jesus rose from the dead.  But, I don't know if we always pause, and ask ourselves the, 'And then, what?' question.  What are the theological implications of Jesus' resurrection from the dead? 

Let's 'unpack' that today.  As we look at our text for today, even the disciples, themselves, did not understand the full theological implications of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, because the Bible tells us

(They still did not yet understand from Scripture

that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

I am going to look at three theological implications of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and the 'And then what?  What does this mean?'

The first one is this.  On Easter morning, the disciples did not have a clue as to the theological implications of the resurrection of the dead, at all.  The reason they did not have a clue as to the theological implications of Jesus' resurrection from the dead are number one, they didn't expect Jesus to rise from the dead.  Mary Magdeline was going to the body of Jesus, so she could anoint it with spices.  And when the body was missing, she assumed someone had taken it.  And, even when she saw the risen Jesus, she assumed He was the gardener, and asked Him where He had taken the body, so she could go get it. 

They did not expect to see the risen Jesus.  The reason they didn't expect to see the risen Jesus is because they did not understand (and this is critical), they didn't understand what had happened on Friday.  There was not a disciple that stood at the cross on Friday, looked up at Jesus, and thought “He is dying for my sins.  He is dying for the sins of the whole world.”  They didn't have clue.  They did not have a clue of the implications of what happened on Friday.  They thought, “Jesus died”.  It was tragic.  It was terrible.  He died. 

It wasn't until later that day, Easter Day, that Jesus, Himself, began to 'unpack' for His disciples the implications of what happened on Friday.  The Bible tells us later that day He was on the road to Emmaus with some disciples.  They didn't realize it was Jesus.  They were downcast.  They said, “We thought He was going to be the Messiah.”  Then, the Bible says this.  (Just think about this.)  It says, “Jesus looked at them, and said, 'Oh you foolish, and slow of heart to believe all the scriptures say.  The Messiah had to suffer, and then enter His glory.'”  And then the Bible says “Then, beginning with Moses, and all of the prophets, Jesus explained them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself.” 

And so, as they were on the road to Emmaus, it was like this big, 'jigsaw puzzle' of The Old Testament.  All of these 'pieces' of The Old Testament were laying out.  And now, Jesus begins to take all of the 'pieces of the jigsaw puzzle', and put them all into place.  He begins to tell these disciples to look at the first piece of the puzzle…

We see how sin came into the world.  Sin came into the world through Adam and Eve.  And because of that, we are all sinners.  And then, death.  That is connected.  That is a 'piece of the puzzle' that is connected. 

Death is a result of sin. 

It is a consequence of sin.  

That is why Adam died.  That is why all die.

Then, Jesus would take the next 'piece of the puzzle', and say, “Look how in The Old Testament it showed God, a holy God, is only satisfied with the innocent blood of an innocent victim to pay for sin.”  He would have taken all of these 'puzzle pieces', and put them into place. 

And then, for example, probably showed them Psalm 22, which describes the crucifixion.  And then, maybe Isaiah 53, which talks about the suffering servant bearing the sins of the whole world. 

As Jesus began to put all of these 'pieces of the puzzle' in place, all of a sudden, all of a sudden it must have hit those disciples on the road to Emmaus, as they looked at this 'puzzle' that was going into place.  They saw, they saw 'the picture' and said, “That's Jesus!  That is Jesus who was described in The Old Testament!  On Friday, when He died, He was paying for our sins!” 

Then comes the question, “And then, what?  Then what?”  If a criminal has gone to prison, and paid for their crime, then what?  They get let out of prison, because they have paid for the crime.  If Jesus paid for the sins of the world, literally paid for the sins of the world on Good Friday, then what?  If the crimes were paid for, the sins were paid for, then He should be let out of prison. 

That is exactly what happened.  The Father never would have let Jesus get up out of the grave, if Jesus had not paid for the sins of the world.  But, the very fact that God raised His Son from the dead, that is God's declaration to the world.  Think about this theological implication.  This is God's declaration to the world, “I have accepted my Son's payment for your sins.  Your sins are forgiven.  They are paid for.”  That is why the Bible says,

“Jesus was put to death for our sin

and raised to life for our justification.” 

When He was raised to life, God was declaring to the whole world, “I have accepted my Son's payment for your sin.  Your sins are forgiven.”

I like how one pastor put it.  He said, “God was absolving the world.  He was declaring to the whole world, 'Because of my Son's death on the cross, I now declare You are forgiven.'”

That is the first theological implication of Jesus' resurrection from the dead. 

It is God's public announcement

that He has accepted Jesus' payment

for the sins of the whole world.

Then comes the next, 'And, then what?  And, then what?'  I heard a pastor put it this way.  “There is a guy who they can't keep dead.  He is risen, and is on the loose.  He is after you.  What are you going to do with Him?  What is He going to do with you?” 

That is the next, 'And, then what?' 

Can you imagine the disciples, when they heard Jesus had risen from the dead?  They must have thought, “Well, we betrayed Him. We forsook Him.  Now, what is He going to do, now that He is on the loose, when He catches us?” 

The beautiful words of Jesus to Mary Magdalene were, “Go tell my brothers that I am ascending to my God, and your God, my Father, and your Father.”  When He called them brothers, that was like the most comforting word they could ever hear.  The risen Lord, the risen Lord Jesus, who had defeated the sins of the world was calling them His brothers.  He wanted to catch them, and make them His.

If you could picture your heart, and in your heart imagine there is a throne.  Before you became a Christian, the Bible describes what is sitting on that throne in your heart.  What is sitting on that throne in your heart is sin.  It is the ruler.  It could be greed.  It could be pride.  It could be lust.  It could be envy.  It could be materialism.  It could be popularity.  But, something is sitting on the throne in your heart.  As the ruler, it is controlling your thoughts, and your actions.  The risen Lord Jesus has every intention of coming, and rescuing you from what is in your heart.

Through Word and Sacrament, He intends to catch you.  The risen Lord intends to capture you.  He intends to cause you to see your sin, and realize, “I am so sorry that I have sinned against God, and deserve to be condemned.  But, Jesus died for my sins.  My sins are paid for.  God has declared that.”

Once you believe that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, do you know what happens?  The sin that was sitting on the throne of your heart gets dethroned.  It gets dethroned, and the risen Jesus sits on the throne.  He sits on the throne, so you can begin to live what we call a resurrected life.  The Bible says,

“We were therefore buried with Him,

by baptism into death

in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead,

by the glory of the Father,

just as Christ was raised from the dead,

by the glory of the Father,

we also may walk in newness of life.”  

When the risen Jesus takes our hearts, and He becomes the One on the throne, we live a new life, a resurrected life.  We begin to want to serve Jesus, live for Jesus, be kind, be compassionate, be sharing, be loving, be long suffering.  We want to live for Jesus.

So, I am going to ask you the question today.  There is One they can't keep dead.  He is out of the grave.  He is on the loose.  He is after you.  What are you going to do with Him?  If you are still treating Him like He is dead, like He is of no significance to you, He is after you.  Right now, this very moment, He is like a shepherd after a lost sheep.  He is after you, and loves you.  His intent, and His goal is that you, too, repent of your sin, and trust in Jesus, so He sits on the throne, and you live a resurrected life.

Which gets me to the third, “And then what?  Then what?”  I am going to make this one really personal.  You can personalize it yourself. 

About a month ago, Sherri and I were visiting my mom and dad, out in Portland, Oregon.  My dad has suffered a couple, pretty serious strokes.  He is pretty rugged, and beat up.  He walks with a walker, and everything he does has to be pretty slow.  He has osteoporosis, and so he is very bent over.  He has lots of internal pain, as well.  He has pain running down his legs, and into his feet, so he is in a lot of pain.  But, he has good spirits, because he is a Christian man. 

One day, as we were visiting him, he really wanted Sherri and me to get in the car, because he wanted to show us something.  We got in the car, and drove about 45 minutes.  We crossed The Columbia River, and got into a little town called Camus, Washington.  It was a beautiful, little town.  When we got outside of the town, we got to this beautiful, just this beautiful, mountain meadow.  He said, “Pull in here.”  So we did. 

He said, “Let's drive around this little meadow.”  So we drove around the little meadow, and then he said, “Stop right here, right by that little, Dogwood Tree.”  We stopped, and he said, “That's it.” 

He wanted to get out of the car, and walk on the grass, and I thought, “Oh man.  I don't know.  He is not very stable.”  But, my mom said, “Let him do it.   He wants to walk over there.”

So, he got out, and walked over to the little, Dogwood Tree, and I followed him over there.  He looked at me, and without any fear in his voice he said, “That's where I am going to be buried.  And this is where your mom is going to be buried.” 

I know my dad, and I am sure he was thinking the same thing I was thinking.  I thought, “Dad, that spot right there is going to be where the most amazing event in your existence will happen.  Right there, someday, you are going to experience the theological implications of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.”

Scripture says,

“Listen.  Listen.  I tell you a mystery.  We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at that last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable.  We will be changed.  The perishable will clothe itself, with the imperishable.  The mortal with immortality.  When the perishable has clothed itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true:  'Death has been swallowed up in victory.  Where oh death is your sting?  Where oh grave is your victory?  Thanks be to God who gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.'”

So today, as you go home, ponder this thought:  Jesus died and rose again.  And then what?