160327 1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 March 2016 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 15:1 – 11

Sermon Theme: Look! The Tomb of Jesus is Empty!!

The last time we were together for worship, it was on Good Friday. Darkness filled the Lord's house. We heard that our Savior, Jesus, willingly went to the cross. He suffered. He died. His lifeless body was placed in a tomb. But this morning we are back here in God's house to rejoice in the Good News that Jesus Christ lives. This morning, join the women at the tomb of Jesus and hear the angels proclaim the Good News: "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!" This morning, run along with Peter to the tomb of Jesus and see "the strips of linen lying by themselves." With a heart filled with joy and thankfulness, LOOK! THE TOMB OF JESUS IS EMPTY!

But this morning you and I can't actually go and look into the tomb of Jesus and see that it is empty. His glorious resurrection happened 2000 years ago. So how do we know it is true? First and foremost is because God's own Word proclaims it to be true. Another reason is because there are many eyewitnesses who saw Jesus alive. As Pastor read for us earlier from 1 Corinthians chapter 15, "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures...he was buried...he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and ...he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also...", the Apostle Paul writes.

Jesus, the risen Savior, revealed his glory as he appeared to his disciples throughout the 40 days from the time of his Resurrection to the time of his Ascension into heaven. Rather than listening to human beings who doubt our Lord's resurrection, we listen to the Good News the angels shared that first Easter morning, "Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'"

Now, you may be thinking to yourself this morning, "Well, Pastor, this is all well and good. It's Easter and I know that on Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. But what does the Good News of Jesus' resurrection mean for me today, March 27, 2016?" First, because the tomb of Jesus is empty, you and I can be sure of the forgiveness of all of our sins. As the Apostle Paul was led by God the Holy Spirit to write to the Christians in Corinth, "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you." Your sin makes you guilty. My sin makes me guilty. You can't save yourself. I can't save myself. It is only Jesus Christ, our living Savior, who saves you and saves me. It is only the Gospel message that proclaims to you and me the Good News about Jesus.

As we read in Romans chapter 4, Jesus "was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life (because of) our justification." On Good Friday, Jesus cried out, "It is finished!" How can you and I be sure that God the Father accepted his Son sacrifice as the full payment price for all your sins and mine? Look! The tomb of Jesus is empty! The glorious resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the stamp of approval from God the Father. The payment price is accepted. You and I enjoy the complete forgiveness of all of our sins. Because the tomb of Jesus is empty, the comfort that you and I enjoy is that we are saved through our one and only Savior.

This brings to mind another comfort for you and me this morning: just as Jesus conquered his grave, so you and I will conquer our graves as well. If you or I die before the Lord returns on Judgment Day, it may appear that death has beaten us. Our lifeless body will be placed in our grave. On Good Friday, it appeared that death had beaten Jesus. His lifeless body was placed in its grave. But Look! The tomb of Jesus is empty! And the Good News is that our graves, too, will be empty. Because of Jesus, we who by God's grace know him as our one and only Savior, look forward to that day when soul and body will live forever in great victory at the side of Jesus in the perfection of heaven. It is later in the great Resurrection Chapter of 1 Corinthians chapter 15, that we read from God's Word, "When the perishable has been clothed 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, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

The fact that the tomb of Jesus is empty not only gives you and me the peace of our forgiveness and the assurance of eternal life with him in heaven, but it also comforts us that he is our living, almighty Lord, who is with us each day of his grace that he gives to us on this earth. In the First Lesson for today we read a song of praise spoken by Moses. The almighty Lord had just caused the water of the Red Sea to part so that his people could cross on dry land. The same almighty Lord caused those same waters to cover Pharaoh and his army as they chased after the Israelites. Offering all praise and thanks to the Savior-God, Moses asks, "Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?"

Maybe right now in your life you are facing trouble or difficulty in your personal life, at school, at work, at home, with family or with friends. The Lord who is "majestic in holiness [and] awesome in glory" makes you the promise that he is with you each and every day, working hard on your behalf. How can you be sure that the Lord is watching over you? Because look...the tomb of Jesus is empty! No problem in your life is so small that he doesn't want to be bothered with it; no trouble is so big that he is unable to help. As your living Savior, Jesus is always with you. Because the tomb of Jesus is empty, he is able to say to you and me, "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

There is one final, important point to keep in mind this Easter morning: our risen Lord wants you and me to make every effort to live each day of our life for him, using the gifts and abilities that he gives to us to the best of our ability and to his glory. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." Maybe it has been some time since you were last here in God's house. Maybe it has been some time since you used your time, your talents or your treasures to praise the risen Savior. By the grace of God, and the power of his Word, make today a fresh start in your life. Let the fact that the tomb of Jesus is empty give you peace and comfort that he is with you. Let the Good News that your Savior lives empower you to live for him here, until that glorious day you live with him forever in heaven.

This morning, you and I rejoice that the tomb of Jesus is empty! With joy in your heart, may the Good News that Jesus lives move you to say in the words of Psalm 118, "The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. The Lord's right hand is lifted high; the Lord's right hand has done mighty things! I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Look! The tomb of Jesus is empty! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

 

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