Message from Pastor Miller

“He is not here, for He is risen, as He said!” Alleluia!
(Matthew 28)

Aside from Jesus’ cry “It is finished!”
there exist no words quite equal to these: “He is risen!”
From death, from hell, from the tomb, indeed, to life and it everlasting.

Think of it. Since His ministry began, Jesus knew that Calvary awaited Him. Calvary was why He had come to Bethlehem’s manger in the first place. Calvary was the goal of His earthly journey.

Calvary’s cross was preordained. So He “set His face toward Jerusalem.” There, He knew, the greatest miscarriage of justice in human history would take place. There, He knew, the only Perfect Man ever born to woman would be sacrificed. There, He knew God would die! His presence in Jerusalem would lead to the Cross on the Day of Preparation, just before that most solemn and celebrated of Jewish feasts: the Passover.

Three times on that journey to the cross, Jesus had told Peter and Andrew, James and John, and the other disciples that this would happen: He would be slain. Yet, they were completely unprepared for the reality, for the horror, for the awful bloodthirsty and bloody truth of it all.

Yes, and three times He also told them that the ultimate, unbelievable, rectifying Resurrection would follow. But they failed to understand what He was talking about: that He would rise again!

Peter finally got it at Pentecost. In his sermons following that auspicious event and recorded in chapters 2,3,4, and 5 of Acts, the Spirit-transformed fisherman, the Christian church’s first evangelist, boldly attests to the “foolishness” of the resurrected Christ.

Paul, the missionary without equal, wrote to the church at Corinth that these are of “first importance”: Jesus died for our sins; He was raised; and, He appeared to others (1 Corinthians 15). To emphasize the reality of Jesus’ rising and subsequent appearances, Paul lists the witnesses: first Peter, then the twelve, then more than five hundred at one time, James who was Jesus’ earthly half-brother and the first bishop of Jerusalem; all the apostles at once, and, lastly, Paul himself.

Why are these post-Easter appearances of “first importance?” Well, Paul tells us in the last verses of Romans, chapter 4. Here he writes of “… Jesus, our Lord. Who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” There it is: our justification!

The Lutheran Study Bible states that Justification is the “… dominant theological truth in Paul’s letters and the Scriptures” (p.1903). It means that the believer (the “justified” person) raised up with Christ in baptism, is declared righteous! That, dear friends, is the verdict, the final legal act completed by God for us in Christ’s
Resurrection! Not only are your sins and mine paid for by Jesus’ death, we are declared righteous by His Resurrection.  Justified: “just like we had never sinned.” Alleluia!

Happy Resurrection Day … now … every day!
God bless you … you righteous one!