The Lord is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
We are still at the beginning of Easter season. Yet, in a very real way it is always the Easter season. It is always Easter, every day of every week of every year. Easter began for us on the day that we were baptized and it has been Easter ever since. Because it is always Easter for us there are some implications, some life changing and some life-long implications.
The other day as I was singing matins (for my daily morning devotions) I was again reminded of the wonderful gift of Easter which is peace with God. This peace with God comes to us through one of God’s promises to us. I was reading a part of a sermon by Martin Luther, from his sermons on John 6-8. He quotes John 3:36, He that believes on the Son has everlasting life. He writes We should preach on these words for a hundred thousand years and proclaim them again and again. In fact, we can never preach enough about them, for Christ promises eternal life immediately to him who believes. He does not say, he who believes will receive eternal life, but immediately you believe in Me you have eternal life already. He does not speak of some future gift, but of a present grace, namely, if you can believe in Me you are already saved and you have already received the gift of eternal life. I love to preach on this text, especially at funerals. This is good news; this is the gospel; this is grace!
One of my pet peeves (in fact, it’s more than a pet peeve) is that so many people want to and do add ifs, ands, and buts to God declaration of grace as in “you are forgiven if…, or you are saved, but you have to…, or on and on and on. And that is all completely wrong. We are not saved by what we do or how we feel. We are saved only by God’s promise, a promise given to us in our Holy Baptism. And that promise is for now, it is not some future far off promise that will come true if you do such and such or feel forgiven or is you feel Jesus. No, it is a promise given to us regardless of how you feel. With God, a promise given is a promise kept. How does this happen? Luther again from the same sermon, He works the beginning of eternal life in that He preached to you the oral and outward word. He then gives the heart which receives the Word and believes it. Such is the beginning. And those selfsame words which you hear and believe lead you to Jesus Christ alone; you cannot go further. If you can believe in Him and cleave to Him, you are redeemed from physical and spiritual death, and you already have eternal life. And the ability to believe this is not something that you can do yourself. This belief, this faith, is a gift of God through the Holy Spirit. So, you see, it is all God’s work and it is given to you as a gift, as a promise. So, we live, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as new people who have already inherited the promise of eternal life. As I so often like to say, for those who are in Christ, every day in Good Friday and every day is Easter. Every day the old sinful person within us is drowned by the water of our Holy Baptism and every day the Holy Spirit raises up a new person, a new person who lives in the promise of life with Christ forever, no ifs, ands, or buts. And that makes a difference in how we live each moment of our life.
The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!
In Christ’s Name,
Pastor David A. Aanonson, interim