Easter Sunday – “This Is The Day That The Lord Has Made” – Psalm 118:24 – 4/20/14

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TODAY, the Christian Church throughout the world celebrates the victory of their Lord Jesus Christ over the power of death and the devil. Believers count this day as the most important day in their life and in fact, the most important day in all of human history.

TODAY’S collective church attendance will be higher than it has been for the last 51 Sundays and as high as it will be for the next 51 Sundays. What we sometimes loose sight of and forget is that the Christian Church celebrates Easter every Sunday. And every Sunday is the celebration of Jesus Christ and His victory over those things that WE CAN NOT overcome;
 our sin and the sin of the whole world;
 the devil, whom all of the military power in the world cannot touch;
 and death, and the finality of the grave.

TODAY, everyone who has ever been baptized into Christ knows that what we celebrate on Easter is not just IMPORTANT. But as we heard St. Paul tell us in our Epistle reading, it is of “FIRST IMPORTANCE.”

It’s not that nothing else in this world is IMPORTANT. The economy is IMPORTANT, health care is IMPORTANT, your family, your job, your finances are all IMPORTANT. But compared to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, they are all secondary; in fact, if Christ had not risen from the dead, all the rest becomes pretty meaningless really.

TODAY, the whole Christian Church on earth declares with the Psalmist, “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” The preacher declares, “THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE.” And the congregation replies, “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps.118:24).

To say that “the Lord has MADE this day” means that He CREATED this day, and talk of CREATION takes us back to the beginning, before there was such a thing as “TODAY,” when everything was without form and void and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the deep.

“And God spoke into the darkness. “Let there be light.” “And there was light,” because God’s Word always does what it says. AND THE LIGHT SHATTERED THE DARKNESS, “AND THE DARKNESS HAS NOT OVERCOME IT.”

Never since that FIRST DAY, has there ever been a DAY more worthy of saying, “THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE.” “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” UNTIL TODAY!

For on THIS DAY, this EASTER DAY, God has once again spoken into
 the formless void of this world,
 and the darkness of our sin,
 and the finality of death,
 and an eternity in hell.
And welcome to the NEW CREATION! “For if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

This EASTER DAY is as much the creation of the Triune God as was that 1st DAY OF THE WORLD in the beginning. Before He spoke His first CREATIVE WORD into the darkness of the world, He had already spoken HIS RECREATIVE WORD into the darkness of His tomb.

The Lord MADE THIS EASTER DAY from all eternity. And ever since Adam infected this world with his deadly sin, the whole creation has been groaning like a woman in labor, waiting for this day to finally arrive.

“THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE.” “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

I hope that you realize, that in saying that this EASTER day ‘is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes,’ that you are also saying that GOOD FRIDAY is the day that the Lord has made.

You remember Good Friday? That was the day that we and every man, woman and child, from the first to the last said that we preferred the darkness over the light. That was the day that we all said Jesus had it all wrong. That was the day when we all denied Him and spit on Him and cursed Him and shouted, “crucify Him, crucify Him.”

I hope that you realize that when you say, “THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE.” “Let us rejoice and be glad in it,” you are confessing your guilt, and declaring your sin, and ‘LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD,’ that HIS WILL BE DONE, despite our opposition and resistance and denial.

Good Friday is the day that the Lord has made. It wasn’t by chance that the Son of God was crucified, died and was buried. It all happened “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, which He purposed in Christ before the creation of the world.” (Acts 2:23)

And when the time had fully come, God spoke His Son into the womb of Mary. And nine months later that Word of God became flesh and dwelled among us. In Him is the fullness of the love of God for you. LIKE A DIVINE SPONGE, Jesus absorbed all of the sin and death and evil of the whole world into Himself. He absorbed all of the darkness that we have brought into HIS LIGHT.

And when all the darkness and all of the death, from every time and every place and every man, woman and child, could be found only IN HIM, and He was fully saturated with our sin, He put it to death, in His own body, on the cross.

And when they SQUEEZED HIM who was saturated with our sin, and WRUNG HIM OUT with the flogging and hitting and the nailing and mocking, nothing but the love of God came pouring out from His hands and His feet and His side – like streams of living water in a dry and parched land. And we who were dead in our sins were washed in this love and to this day we continue to drink from that stream.

He who emptied us of our sin and death, fills us with His love and life.

Listen to what is of “FIRST IMPORTANCE.”
 “Christ died for OUR sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:3).
 “He himself bore OUR SINS in his body on the tree…” (1Ptr. 2:24)
 “Surely he has borne OUR GRIEFS, and carried OUR SORROWS… He was pierced for OUR TRANSGRESSIONS; he was crushed for OUR INIQUITIES… (Is. 53).

The big word there is the little word OUR. He had no sin and death had no hold on Him. So when He took OUR sin into Himself, He died. But the death He died was OUR death. And HIS VICTORY over death is really OUR victory.

“THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE.” “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

By taking all of the punishment that we deserve for OUR sin into Himself, He has robbed sin of all its power to misshape and destroy our lives.
 Minds that sin held captive in fear are set free to laugh in the face death.
 Ears that sin made deaf are opened to hear and believe the Good News.
 Hearts that sin turned cold are warmed to live by faith.
 And eyes that sin blinded to the truth are opened to see that which is OF FIRST IMPORTANCE.

By His cross, Jesus has overcome the darkness, not by repaying evil with evil, which is the way of a sinful and fallen world. But He has overcome the darkness by entering into it as VICTIM in weakness.

The VICTIM has become the VICTOR. “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19) “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.” “THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE.” “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Ps.118:22).

By His resurrection, Christ has made a mockery of death and its finality. His victory over the grave sets us free to relax and live in peace, even when death is staring us right in the face, because we know that death has lost its sting. Not because OUR death is already behind us, but because it is already behind Him. And our lives are hidden in Christ.

So, if you’re one of those who continue to OPPOSE, and RESIST, and DENY this Jesus Christ the Son of God – TODAY, this Easter Day, is the DAY for you to GIVE IT UP! In the end, you’re going to be overcome. Why not be overcome now and spend whatever time you have left in His forgiveness and love and join us in celebrating His victory for us.

And if you’re one of those who have been overcome by this Jesus Christ the Son of God in the flood of Holy Baptism, but have forgotten what is OF FIRST IMPORTANCE, then TODAY, this Easter DAY, is the DAY for you to REPENT, and stop wasting whatever time you have left, put that which is of FIRST IMPORTANCE FIRST again. When you do, I think you’ll be surprised at how much more you will enjoy and appreciate all those things that are of SECOND importance if only because they are in their proper place.

Here’s what I mean. When the world awoke on that first Easter Sunday, everything was the same and nothing was the same. The Roman government was still in power. The Chief Priests were still trying to hold onto their dead religion. The disciples of Jesus were still huddled in fear behind locked doors. The women were filled with sorrow and grief.

But one by one, as men and women, boys and girls were confronted with the living Lord, either as eyewitness, or by the hearing of the gospel, nothing was ever the same again. In a world that doesn’t change, they were changed.

THE PAST, with all of its doubts and defiance, its mistakes and failures, its sins and transgressions, that had held them as prisoners to their anger or their regret or guilt or shame or fear, was swallowed up by Jesus. And now they were prisoners of hope.

He is the Lord of the past as well as the present and the future. By His death He has put all of your past guilt and shame to death. Not by showing us what we must do to break free of our past. He tells us to simply hand it over to Him for He has already taken it from us. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat.11:28).

On this Easter Day, so much remains the same doesn’t it? Still there is cancer and tumors and diabetes and sickness. Still there is divorce and loneliness and sorrow and weeping at the grave of a loved one. And still we daily sin much.

But even in this, EVERYTHING IS CHANGED. For we know what is of FIRST IMPORTANCE. Even as we travel through this valley of death, we fear no evil. We walk in NEWNESS OF LIFE. For “everyone who is in Christ, is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17).

“THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE.” “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

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