Pastor Hopkins preached this sermon on Easter Sunday, 4/12/2020. The service was broadcast live on Facebook at 9am, and is now available as a recording. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Easter Sunday Bulletin
The texts for the sermon were the day’s gospel and epistle lessons. To read the Bible texts for Easter Sunday, click here.
It was the early morning of a brand-new day, at the very beginning of a brand-new week, and the dawn of a brand-new world;
It was a morning that saw the greatest, truest, most beautiful thing that ever happened: Jesus the Christ, risen from the dead… And everybody missed it.
They were at home because they didn’t know what else to do. They were at home because they were paralyzed with grief. They were at home, because their only Hope had been crucified. And all that was left, was to wait for death to come get them, too.
Death very much seemed to have the upper hand on Friday. When Jesus bowed His head and yielded up His spirit; when the Sun stopped shining, and the earth shook; when the stone was rolled over the tomb, and all their dreams for the future were trapped inside.
But this morning marks a new and unending day. The Son has risen, and shines more brightly than ever; the stone is rolled back, and the earth is no longer trembling but rejoicing.
Jesus has passed through suffering and death. He has emerged from His quarantine – robust, healthy, whole, and lives again forever.
All of this is wonderful for Jesus, of course; but the Good News is that Easter is not only for Jesus. Like everything He accomplished on Good Friday, Easter is for you. And so, this day means more than the fact that Jesus is risen indeed.
It means that sin, death, and hell are not risen indeed. It means that death is swallowed up in victory. It has lost its sting, because Jesus has disarmed it. Jesus has flattened the deadly curve, and so, it can no longer harm you.
This is what the disciples learn as they peer into the empty tomb. That Jesus has taken the chaos of death, and ordered it; He has subjected it to Himself, and folded it up neatly on His three-day bed.
But beyond this revelation, there was nothing more in that empty tomb for them. Life was waiting outside.
That Life was also waiting for Mary. She needed to see Him and hear Him and touch Him. And then she needed to go tell everyone else.
That last part is particularly important to Jesus, which means it is important to us.
After all, it was only a few people who were there that morning, kind of like this morning; and even they were late. But as it turns out, this is not as big a problem as we might think; as Jesus knows full well how to bring His Resurrection from one place to every place.
Though the Good News of Jesus’ Resurrection for you is better than Medicine, He has designed it to be infectious.
It travels through the air at the speed of sound, and wires and pixels at the speed of light. It springs off the pages of His Word; and splashes onto children. It breaks into locked rooms and hardened hearts, and lies hidden under bread and wine.
The only way to protect yourself is to plug up your ears and close your eyes, and refuse to live in the new world that Christ has thrown open before you.
The Gospel and the new life it brings really is that infectious. Even on the very first day of the new week and the new world, the spread was exponential. It went from 1, dear Mary Magdalene, to 3, add Peter and John, to 10 – that’s all the remaining disciples, minus Thomas, who would catch it later.
Fifty days on, when Peter preaches on Pentecost, there is a full-on outbreak; as the small troop of those who carrying this novel Life inside them spread it by orders of magnitude; and three thousand were infected with Jesus’ Resurrection in a single day. Acts 2:41
Since then, the Church has only grown and never shrank. This is what happens when your demographic doesn’t truly die, and it is what the model demonstrates most clearly: a steep upward slope that looks like a mountain. You can call it Zion if you like.
So sing loudly on this new morning of this new day, in this new and redeemed world. Sing with your brothers and sisters in Christ, with the ones you see and the ones you don’t.
Join your voice with Joannie’s. She hasn’t stopped singing since she died her little death on Maundy Thursday. Sing with Mary Magdalene, and Peter and John, and all the witnesses of the resurrection.
Let the vaults of heaven and earth resound.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
He Is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!