Pastor James Hopkins preached this sermon on Easter Sunday, 4/9/2023. The service was broadcast live on and is now available on the FLC youtube channel. To follow along from home, the bulletin is available as a PDF: Easter Bulletin
The text for the sermon was the day’s gospel lesson. To read the Bible texts for the Resurrection of Our Lord, click here.
You’d think it’s the biggest question any of the disciples could ask. You’d think it’s the most fascinating and honest question you might ask. And perhaps the only question that could probe the depths of Good Friday and Easter morning.
But it isn’t. And that’s why nobody asks it.
Scan every account of the Resurrection. So far as God has revealed it to us in His Word, not a single person ever asks Jesus the question: What was like to die? What does it mean to be dead?
Because sin, death, and hell lost, and they lost big. Jesus has conquered death! And so now, death doesn’t get to be the conversation piece it once was.
Way back then, in the old creation, they were enthralled by death. Everyone. It was in the background of every thought, conversation, plan, and transaction. Maybe that makes it a bit like the economy.
The market was certainly inflated. The wages of sin, after all, is death. And so, that’s all anyone could trade with. And, as a consequence, that’s all anyone could really buy.
They spent their money on death. Purchasing costly tombs and spices.
They spent their time and worry on death. Going shopping late on a Saturday night, and waking up before dawn on Sunday in an anxious fit, asking questions about how to move a big rock, as if the Gardener had not seen to it already.
But then, all of a sudden, Alleluia! Christ is Risen! (He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!)
And with that, the reign of death is ended. Like the serpent’s belly, the bubble has burst. And market conditions have changed dramatically.
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23) And with that, we learn that everything spent on death was a waste.
Joseph of Arimathea finds out that he can’t get a refund on that tomb, which, it turns out, both he and Jesus were only renting.
Likewise, Nicodemus and the women discover that for all the money they spent on spices, they could have bought a gourmet Easter dinner.
They learn that they were worried with pointless questions: Who will move that big stone away?
And then they realize that they wasted time with death, as well: staying up late and waking up early. Jesus didn’t sleep in; but they could have!
They could have stayed in bed a bit longer, had a nice breakfast, and just met Him Galilee! You remember… just how He told them?!
The worry and the vexation; the time and the resources; all of that, it turns out, was a waste.
For them and for you, Jesus has taken care of all those details, so, even if He doesn’t share all the details with you and me, it turns out that Jesus has death perfectly managed, put in its place, and folded up neatly, like those linens he leaves behind in the empty tomb.
The resurrection means that death and its reign, the hyper-inflation that ate up your joy and your time and your worry and your resources, was, in fact, transitory.
This is not understood by most of the experts, who are still enthralled by death. You can tell who they are by where they go to for hope and comfort. They will try to find comfort in things that, like death, are transitory:
The health of the global economy; the strength of our currency; the next medical breakthrough; the next election cycle; and everything else that doesn’t have a place in the new creation.
The disciples don’t ask Jesus about death because they are obsessed with life. The life of Jesus frees them, fills them, and fuels them! Life answers and displaces all their former questions about death.
Those who are obsessed with life – you who, being joined to Jesus, live with Him forever, you can take the long view.
And so, your investment strategy is radically different. You don’t have the same worry about market conditions: be they foreign or domestic; figurative or literal; extant, or existential. Your hope is not in that which is transitory, but that which is permanent.
Jesus knows that on this side of heaven, so long as sin still clings to you, you probably have some questions, and that’s okay. He’ll answer those, too, if you stick around the rest of the year. But first, he has some Easter questions for His disciples, then and now:
Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? (Luke 24:5,38) Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking? And my favorite, appearing to them in the upper room: Don’t you have anything to eat in this place? How about some fish? John 21:5
In the first chapter of the book of Acts, as the Church of the New Testament begins to get going, St. Luke writes that
Jesus presented Himself alive to them after His suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the Kingdom of God. Acts 1:3
He wasn’t answering trivial questions about death; because despite appearances, that’s what death is now: it’s trivial. In fact, the only time it comes up again in the is near the end of John’s Gospel. When without any prompting, Jesus chooses to mention it to St. Peter.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This He said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this He said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:18-19
Those words: Follow me! They mean that the Christian is never going to death, but through death. Because that’s where Jesus is. Jesus, who said:
If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there also shall My servant be. John 12:26
No questions asked.