Sermon for Easter Sunday
April 20, 2014, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas
Sermon Text: Colossians 3:1-4
Sermon Theme: “Seek the Things Above”
(Sources: Anderson’s Preaching Workbook, Cycle A; Concordia Pulpit Resources, Volume 24, Part 2, Series A; original ideas; Emphasis Online Illustrations and Commentaries)
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
The kettle drums roll their thunder! The bass drum booms and floors shake while snare drums vibrate and timbers resonate! News is to be announced! The crescendo is here! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
When the bass boomed, God spoke to Moses on fiery Mount Zion, and the ground shook!
As the Lord spoke to Elijah on top of the mountain, the firmament trembled as creation waited for the silent whispered Word from the LORD.
Alighting atop Zion, the angels announced the glorious news: “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where he lay.”
When God spoke, “the mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs,” declares Psalm 114!
Early on the eighth day, the crucified Lord rose from His rest in the tomb. United in body and soul, He preached to the captives in Hell, for Satan, the father of lies, could not be trusted to announce his defeat to his tormented demon followers.
The Lord Jesus descended into the abyss to proclaim – not to offer a second chance – to proclaim the news that Satan had been defeated through the shedding of holy blood. God’s blood. Sin was forgiven, death emptied of its power, the devil defanged, never more to torment souls, for their transgressions are hidden by the blood of the Lamb.
Christ’s resurrection proves that sin was defeated on Good Friday. And with sin’s defeat, we live with Christ for eternity.
I know it seems strange, but there is the “already but not yet” dimension of our own resurrection. We have been raised to newness of life through faith, but we still live in a corrupt world. Thus Christians have their feet planted in two worlds: the old sinful world, and the new world that Christ is ushering in. We are to focus our minds on the new world, on the things that are above. Setting our mind on the values of the world will drag us down, but fixing our minds on the things of God will lift us up. In other words, we must be high-minded.
I’ve heard this story for many years, and supposedly it’s true. It seems that back in the glory days of the Shamrock Hilton, a women in Houston checked into that famous hotel. She had been there only a few minutes when she called the house detectives and demanded they come up to her room.
The detectives arrived in just a few minutes and wanted to know what trouble was afoot. “There’s a Peeping Tom,” the woman said, pointing out the window. “He’s looking right into my room.”
The detectives looked out and saw nothing. “He’s right there,” she insisted, “over at the Warwick.” The detectives looked at each other and rolled their eyes. “Lady, we’re on the eleventh floor,” one of them said. “The Warwick Hotel is over ten miles away. There’s no way on earth some man could be looking in your window from way over there.”
“Hummph,” the woman exclaimed, “you use binoculars and you’ll see him just fine!”
In our sermon text, Paul reminds us that because we have been raised with Christ, we now have a new pair of binoculars and can fix our eyes on the divine beauty life offers.
I think a Sunday School teacher said it better than anyone else. In studying Colossians, she was wondering how she could possibly explain the section that is our sermon text. As she pondered about it, she came up with a make-believe story to tell her class, and I’ve not heard it explained any better than this. Here’s her story:
“Once upon a time, a little girl named Martha prayed that she could be with Jesus for a while. And in an instant she found herself right next to Jesus, riding high in a hot-air balloon. After several hours of riding and talking together, Jesus asked her, “What do you notice is different up here with me?”
“Martha thought for a moment, then replied, “When you’re up here, you can’t see the nasty faces people make at each other, and you can’t hear the ugly words they throw at each other. But you can see the blue sky and the red and yellow leaves on the trees. In fact, you can see just about all the pretty things that God made. Now, Jesus, I know there are nasty things going on down there, but up here with you, everything looks a lot brighter!”
Martha nailed it! Just look back at the history of God with man, and you can see that the ugliness down here on earth began a long time ago, with God always allowing a new start.
Adam and Eve were living in a perfect world, but could not accept it. They tried for something better than what God gave them. And sank lower. But God let them start again – this time with a new understanding of themselves which their experience gave them. Cain slew his brother Abel – yet God let him go to start again, this time with a mark of God’s promise that no man could harm him without fear of punishment.
Noah lived in a sinful and lost world, yet God let him start again. Abraham was to start a new nation – a nation of faith – against all odds. Moses was to take the nation out of slavery and make it free and glorious in its own land. David was to take a nation of fragmented tribes and forge it into a world power. The prophets were sent to call the people back from the erring ways to start again in new faith. And the man Jesus, whom all knew to be dead since Friday afternoon, rose again from the tomb to new and indestructible life.
To be sure, this short text from Paul’s letter to the Colossians carries a powerful message for Easter! In a nutshell, it says, we have already been raised to newness of life through Christ, — yet, we still live in the old sinful world. We can choose which world we will focus on, a very important choice. To fix our minds on the values of this world leads to death, — but to fix our minds on the world that is coming through Christ leads to life. As Paul says in our text, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above. . .”
Yes, the kettledrums roll their thunder! The bass drum booms and floors shake while snare drums vibrate and timbers resonate. The news has been announced; the crescendo is there! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.