April 04, 2021

Rev. Bernt P. Tweit



Old Testament Lesson; Isaiah 25:6-9

Epistle Lesson; 1 Corinthians 15:19-26

Psalm of the Day; Psalm 118                             

Sermon Text; Mark 16:1-8


You maybe have heard it said before, “Christmas is the promise”.  And, “Easter is the proof”.  Just a little over three months ago, we gathered together for worship to hear the promise, the promise spoken by the angel to the shepherds. 

“For onto you is born this day

in the city of David,

a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

The word 'savior' means, 'to save from sin'.

Now today, as we are gathered together for worship, we hear the proof of that promise. 

“Jesus was delivered over to death for our sins. 

He was raised to life for our justification.”

The proof of that promise now stands for you today.  The Savior came to save you from your sin, so that with the forgiveness of sins, you would have eternal life in Heaven.

Many churches have Christmas Children's Services.  But, not many churches have Easter Children's Services.  But, there are some that do.  One year there was a church that had an Easter Children's Service.  A little, five year old boy was playing the angel.  He was the one who was to share this simple line with everybody who came that day.  It was the message of the angel,

“He is not here. 

He is risen!” 

He knew the line, and practiced it many times.  But, on the morning of the Easter Children's Service, he came out to the front of the church.  He looked at all of the eyes that were looking back at him, and he got stage fright.  He could not remember his lines. 

So, the director came up to him, and began to whisper in to his ear the beginning of what he was supposed to say.  The director whispered, “He is not here...”

Then, with boldness, that little, five year old boy went to the microphone.  He loudly proclaimed, “He is not here.  He is in prison.”

Well, the first part he got right, but he messed up on the second part, there.

Today we get to gather together to hear the wonderful message the angel proclaimed to the women, on that very first Easter Morning.  One pastor said, “This is the greatest sermon that has ever been preached.  It is the words of the angel to the women.  'He is not here.  He is risen!'”

So, let's look at Mark's Gospel from Mark, chapter sixteen, to hear what God's Word says on this Easter Morning.


When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so they could go and anoint Jesus.  Very early on the first day of the week, at sunrise, they went to the tomb.  They were saying to each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb for us?”  When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.  He said to them, “Do not be alarmed.  You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid Him.  But go, tell His disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see Him, just as He told you.'”

They went out and hurried away from the tomb, trembling and perplexed.  They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.


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



Our text for today begins by saying, “When the Sabbath was past...”.  So this would have been Saturday evening, after sunset.  There is that brief period of time at twilight, after sunset, and before darkness.  Oftentimes, back in Jesus' day, merchants would open up their stores so that people could buy supplies after the Sabbath.  So, that is what the women did.  They went, and they bought spices so that the very next morning they could go to the tomb, to properly prepare Jesus' body for burial. 

These three women were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome.  We don't know a whole lot about Salome.  We don't know a whole lot about Mary the mother of James.  But, we do know a little something about Mary Magdalene.  Mary Magdalene was the one Jesus had cured of demon possession.  Mary Magdalene was the one who had the distinction of being the very first person Jesus appeared to in His resurrection. 

So, very early on that first day of the week, at sunrise, they were going to the tomb.  The thing that was greatest on their hearts, and greatest on their minds was, “Who is going to roll away the stone from the tomb?” 

You see, those women had faith, but they didn't yet have resurrection faith.  Scripture tells us, later, that they did not know from the scriptures that Jesus had to rise from the dead.  They did not have resurrection faith, just yet. 

That is when they saw that the stone that Joseph of Arimathea had put in front of the tomb on Friday, had been rolled away.  They walked in to the tomb, when there, to their excitement, or there to their alarm, they saw a man who was dressed in white.  Matthew tells us it was an angel.  He told them, “Do not be alarmed.”

Almost every time there is an angel encounter with a human being, that is the first thing that is said.  Go back to Christmas, with what the angels said to the shepherds.  “Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy.”  So, on this very first Easter Morning, the angel told the woman, “Don't be alarmed.”

Then, as one pastor once said, “The angel preached the greatest sermon ever spoken.  'He is not here.  He has risen!'

Then, the angel told the women to go and tell, specifically to go and tell the disciples, but primarily to go, and tell Peter.  Think about Peter, here for a moment.  Just two days before this, he had denied that he even knew who his best friend was.  I am sure he was troubled and perplexed, because of what had happened to Jesus.  Specifically, go and tell the disciples and Peter.  “But go, tell His disciples and Peter...” Jesus is not here.  Jesus has risen!

The women left, and they were filled with anxiety, because they continued to be perplexed, and they continued to be baffled, because of the news that had been shared with them. 

I want you to know that today I stand before you as an 'angel'.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not perfect.  OK.  I do not stand before you in perfection.  I don't stand before you as an angel, because I am wearing white clothes.  But, the word 'angel' simply means, 'messenger'.  I stand before you as a messenger to share with you a message of good news, and to repeat to you what the angel shared with the women. 

I want to begin with this.  You know, as a congregation, we have not been singing for the past year.  You know, as a congregation, we have not been singing, as a choir.  I love choir singing, and I love choir rehearsals.  I enjoy singing.  Well, we are beginning to introduce singing back in to worship.  Last Sunday was Palm Sunday.  The hymn that we sang together as a congregation was Ride On, Ride On in Majesty.  Here is one of the verses from that hymn.  It goes this way.

Ride on, ride on in majesty

in lowly pomp ride on to die.

Bow your meek...

I could not hit the note.  Last week I was sitting here in the congregation with you, and I could not hit that note.  I thought to myself, “What is going on?  I have always been able to hit that note, before.”
So, we sang another verse of Ride On, Ride on in Majesty.  Again, I could not hit the note.  Well, last Sunday, after our Palm Sunday worship I went home, and told my wife, Katie, I couldn't hit that note.

She said, “Your vocal cords have atrophied.  You have not been singing.  You have not been using your vocal cords to sing.  So, you can't hit that note right now, until you practice a little bit more.”
During the course of this week, that got me thinking.  We talk about our muscles atrophying.  Our muscles atrophying is just simply this.  It is a decline of effectiveness due to under-use, or neglect.  Oftentimes, we talk about that with our muscles.  But, even with our vocal cords, they can atrophy, if they are not used.

It got me thinking about my life of faith.  I want you to think about your life of faith from this past year. 

Statistics say that it takes about twenty-one days for a habit to start, and about seventy-five days for a habit to take root.  And really, it takes a year for that habit to establish itself, and really take root.

It was a little over a year ago that we stopped having 'in person' worship services.  For two and a half months we could not.  We were online, only.  So, I am going to ask myself, and I am going to ask you, “How has your life of faith been this past year?” 

It takes twenty-one days for a habit to start or stop, and seventy-five days to fall in or out of practice.  It takes a year to really take hold and grow. 

“How is your life of faith, then, this past year?” 

Just as a muscle can atrophy, just as vocal cords can atrophy, so also our life of faith can atrophy, if we don't put it in to practice.  So, this morning, I stand before you as an angel.  Again, not because I am perfect.  Not because I am wearing white clothes.  But, I stand before you as an angel, a messenger, to encourage - a real encouragement to gather around God's Word and Sacrament, in person, to gather around God's Word and Sacrament online, so that we are hypertrophied (that is the opposite of atrophy).  Atrophy is the decline.  Hypertrophy is a strengthening of our faith, in Jesus as our Savior, in the promise and proof of the message of that angel, on that very first Easter. 

“He is not here.  He is risen!”

There once was a pastor who lived in Britain, in the 1950's.  He was diagnosed with, and he knew he had, progressive muscular atrophy.  He knew the day was going to come when his leg muscles would not work.   He knew the day was going to come when his vocal cords would not work.  So he threw himself in to writing.  He began to write a lot. 

On the year he passed away, it was right before Easter.  He wrote a note to his daughter.  In that note to his daughter he said, “It is a shame that I don't have a voice, and I can't say, 'He is risen'.  But it would be even be a greater shame, and it would be more terrible, if I had a voice, and I didn't believe it.”

That is why I stand before you as a messenger today.  I am a messenger to bring you the greatest sermon ever preached. 

“He is not here.  He is risen!” 

This day is the proof that began at Christmas time, with a promise that a Savior was born to you, has come to fulfillment.  Jesus' resurrection is the proof.  Or, as our Catechism says, “The resurrection of Jesus proves that He is the Son of God, that our sins are paid for, and we too shall rise from the dead.  It gives us strength to forsake sin, and to live a new life.”

So, we have a job to do.  We have a job to do, as a congregation.  Now, maybe you have heard this illustration before, because over the years Pastor Bartels and I have used this off, and on.  But, I want to share this legend with you, again. 

When Jesus ascended in to Heaven, He was met by Gabriel, the angel.  Gabriel said to Jesus, “Well done.  Jesus you fulfilled what you came to do.  You were born.  You lived a perfect life.  You died on the cross to pay for everyone's sins.  You rose from the grave.  It is proof that the promise that was given has been fulfilled.  You are now here, in Heaven.  Well done.  Now, how are people going to know who you are?  And, how are people going to know what you have done?”
Jesus said, “Well, I told my disciples.  The disciples are going to tell other people.  And, those people are going to tell other people.  Word of mouth will just begin to spread.”
Gabriel looked at Jesus and asked, “But, what if the disciples don't tell other people about who you are?  Jesus, what is your Plan B?”
Jesus said, “There is no Plan B.  I am leaving it up to people to share what I have done, with other people.

Guys, you have faith in Jesus), because someone loved you so much, somebody loved you so much that they wanted you to know who Jesus is.  The promise that began at Christmas finds its fulfillment today in the proof of the resurrection.  Our sins are paid for.  Everlasting life in Heaven is yours, and it is mine.  And so, now we have a privilege, we have a responsibility, and we have the opportunity to take that wonderful message, the greatest sermon that has ever been preached,

“He is not here.  He is risen!”,

and to share it with others!



Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.  As it was in the beginning, shall be now, and forevermore.