Easter 2016

Easter
March 27, 2016 A+D
Psalm 24: 7-10

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

At the end of the Psalm 24 David sings:

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; And the King of glory shall come in. And then he asks: Who is this King of glory? And he answers: The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle.

We might ask, “What are these gates and these everlasting doors? Where do they stand and who do they keep out or who do they keep in?”

Saint Epiphanius imagines they are the gates of Hell. He has a magnificent passage where he describes our Lord, after the crucifixion, attended by an army of angels, Michael and Gabriel in the fore-ranks, demanding the gates of Hell be opened. Hell refuses. The devil will not admit his defeat. He wants to pretend that Jesus is dead. But Jesus is not dead. He died, but He lives. And in the end, the devil cannot resist. He is undone. He has no power left to accuse, no ability to keep us penned in. He has fallen from heaven like lightening and he will not rise. So Christ, the risen Lord, the Living God, bursts open the gates with a word, tearing them from their hinges, casting them forth into the abyss, and commanding that they shall never be raised again. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against Christ’s Church and her confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, risen from the dead. His people shall not be imprisoned for sins that He has forgiven them. He has bought them with His own Blood, who dare gainsay His gift?. He has answered for their crimes, who would challenge His sacrifice? He has satisfied what justice required, who will deny His proclamation? Hard-hearted Pharaoh had to let His people go. So does Hell.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; And the King of glory shall come in.

We might likewise see these gates as the gates of heaven or the gates to paradise. They only let in the righteous, but Christ the risen and ascended Lord leads His redeemed people in procession. He has declared us righteous. The flaming swords are quenched. Heaven swings open wide its doors to let us in with the King of Glory, the Lord strong and mighty, who battled sin, death, and hell on the cross and has overcome them for us. He has loved us to the end. He has laid down His life to have us, and now, the task complete, He has taken up His life again in order to shepherd us into heaven as His Bride. The battle is done. Jesus has won. We are the spoils, the victor’s prize. He rises from the field victorious, bruises and marks on His hands, feet, and side from the cross, signs of His love, but He is alive, body and soul together again, our God-Man, Immanuel, who lives to get us out of Hell and into heaven, to bring us with Him.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; And the King of glory shall come in.

Or maybe the gates are the stone that was sealed in a vain attempt to keep Jesus locked away in Joseph’s tomb. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein. The Lord took up Flesh by the Spirit’s overshadowing of the virgin to be with us, to get us back, to save us from our sins. Death is not going to stop Him. He ascended the hill of the Lord outside the gates of the city to be our Scapegoat, with our sins pressed into his head, and  our Lamb, food for our bellies and blood to shield from the angel of the death, in the Place of the Skull. His clean hands were pierced. His side was opened that His pure heart might pour its blood out on the earth, that is out upon us. And in that holy obedience and gift, He who was forsaken by His Father as our just penalty and our holy substitute, received the blessing from the Lord. There He won righteousness and salvation for us.

His resurrection proves that the Father has accepted the payment. He is forsaken no more and we never will be. Hell has been paid in full. It is finished. The Father vindicates the Son. The resurrection proves that Christ is innocent and His Word is true and our salvation is secured.

The question David asks is not, “What are these gates?” But who is this King of Glory? The angel in the tomb tells us: It is Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified, who was dead, but who has risen.

The King of glory walks through stones and locked doors and comes in bread and wine. He is the Lord strong and mighty, born of Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, crucified and buried, buried no more. He is the Lord mighty in battle, the Lord who saves His people, who would not let the devil win.

Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, tears open the gates of Hell which tried to hold us in. He also opens heaven for all believers that we might stroll right in.

Alleluia. He is risen.

In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

David sings: “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein.”

That is why the devil could never win, why God could not let him have us. “The earth is the Lord’s and they that dwell therein.” The devil can rebel. He can quit heaven. He can declare himself an enemy of God. But he cannot have us. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein.”

He did get us to sin. He did usher in death and suffering and sorrow. But that was the easy part. What he could not do was keep us or make God hate us. For God has hath founded(the world) upon the seas, And established it upon the floods.

David is speaking in the first place of the original creation, but it is indicative of how God operates. In the beginning, the Spirit hovered over the Chaos and the Word called all things to be by His own Name: Light. The Light shined in the darkness. Order came from chaos. Goodness was created and pulled out of the deep.

The darkness has not overcome the – at the beginning or ever since. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness there. The re-creation, the coming of the Messiah to restore the earth to His Father, echoes the original creation. This is what the goodness of the Lord does with what is His. That is why the sun went dark while Light was extinguished in the Place of the Skull. But now the stone has been rolled back. Light shines again and the darkness has and will not overcome it.

“The Lord has founded the world upon the seas,” says David so what would make the devil think that things had changed? The Lord has  re-established His church upon the floods of the Red Sea and the waters of the Jordan River. The Red Sea separated the slavery of Pharaoh from the place of Manna and quail. The Lord of the Passover brought them out. The Jordan River is the Fount of Holy Baptism. It separated the wilderness from the promised land and anointed the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. Now there is another Flood. The Lord has re-established His Church, has founded it upon the Red Flood that flowed from the side of Christ side on Good Friday. That Flood washes sinners clean. It overcomes Satan and his armies. It reclaim us as His own: for the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.

any more. “CHRIST,” he exclaims, “CHRIST, the Door, is present: unto GOD the LORD belong the issues of death.

 Lift up your heads, O ye gates; Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.” (Psalm 24:title–10, KJV 1900)

If I call my sister in Florida and say “Mom was admitted to the hospital.” My sister doesn’t know if mom is still there or not. I could say: “Mom was admitted to the hospital but they didn’t keep her.” But if I call my sister and say: “Mom has been admitted to the hospital” that usually means she is still there.

Mark 15 ends with Joseph of Arimathea laying the body of Jesus into the tomb on Friday. Mark 16 picks up with the three Mary’s going to the tomb on Sunday morning to further embalm the body. They arrive just after sunrise and discover that the tomb is open. They go in and find not the Body of Jesus, but an angel who tells them to not be afraid. He knows that they are looking for the Body of Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He tells that Jesus is risen just as He said He would and that they are to go tell Peter and the others about it.

They don’t. They are too astonished and afraid.

Then the Lord appears to Mary Magdalene separately. She tells the disciples. They don’t believe her.

Then Jesus appears to two of the disciples. They likewise go back and tell they others. They  aren’t believed either.

Finally, Jesus appears to the eleven Himself. He rebukes them for their unbelief and then He sends them to preach and baptize, promising accompanying signs. He then ascends to the right hand of His Father and out they apostles go. They preach and the Lord confirms their message with signs.

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