Easter Sunrise (B)

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A sermon by Pastor Robert Schaefer

First and Spring Creek Lutheran Churches

Easter Sunrise—April 20, 2003

Friends in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the risen Lord Jesus the Christ. Amen.

“There’s no stopping Jesus…you can only hope to contain him!”

You can almost imagine the coaches of darkness plotting the strategy for the game of their lives. The Son of God had hit the turf. He was on the field—their field, the field of human sin and death—and he was the single greatest threat the powers of evil had ever faced. They knew instinctively that Jesus was too powerful for them…they couldn’t stop him. All they could do was contain him, if at all possible. Hold him down, keep him immobile so he couldn’t turn the tide. And so they laid their plan.

First they would attack through political maneuvers. King Herod would surely be jealous to learn that a royal child had been born in Bethlehem. Perhaps with a little demonic tweaking he might become murderously jealous? It was a good bet that they could end God’s little challenge right then and there, and if Herod happened to kill a few thousand children to get the job done, well, the more the better.

If the Christ boy somehow managed to escape, there was still hope for those wearing the colors of hell. Their next move, the black coach explained, would be to saddle Jesus with dull, dimwitted followers, the kind who would never understand a word he said. They would be such a burden that his teaching would fail and he would have to admit defeat. Although it was possible that his love could touch even simple men and women and his spirit might inspire them, the powers of evil thought it unlikely.

However, if Jesus somehow managed to prevail even in the light of his followers’ ignorance and blindness, there was one strategy left to contain him for good: Pulling out all the stops, the vast hordes of hell would turn every last heart against Jesus. It would be a massive task, something the likes of which the world had never seen. It would require an unimaginable effort from the very least of demons right up to Satan himself, but in the end it would stop Jesus cold, holding him in the heart of the earth and the firm grip of death. If nothing else could do the job, then death itself would finally contain Jesus, Son of God.

Today we have gathered early in the morning to celebrate, because they were wrong. Death could not contain Jesus Christ, and the grave could not hold him. The love of God for each one of us was so powerful in Jesus that nothing could stop him. He won the game. He won the day. He won our salvation. Praise God for this glorious Easter Day! He is risen. He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

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