When Jesus died on Friday afternoon, his burial had to happen quickly because the sun was setting and it was almost the Sabbath.
The Jewish day begins at sunset, and no work could be done on the Sabbath.
There was not time on Friday to properly anoint his body for burial, so the women had to wait until the morning after the Sabbath to go to the tomb.
This was the first chance they had to show proper care for the dead body of Jesus.
But they did not find Jesus.
Instead they saw a young man, an angel who told them, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.
He has risen; he is not here… He is going before you to Galilee.
There you will see him, just as he told you” (Mk 16:6–7).
They went to see Jesus on Sunday morning.
They found the tomb empty.
Jesus was risen from the dead.
We go to see Jesus on Sunday morning.
He is risen from the dead.
The church has been gathering together on Sunday mornings for the past two-thousand years, because this is the morning that Jesus rose from the dead.
As we gather this morning to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection, there are four things that we confess.
The angel was sent by God to tell the women that Jesus’ words are true.
This is the first thing that we confess in Easter.
Jesus said he would rise and he did.
He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2:19).
The temple was his body.
His body was destroyed, but on the third day Jesus rose, as he said he would.
Jesus said that “As Jonah was… in the belly of the great fish for three days, so he would be in the heart of the earth for three days” (Mt 12:40).
Jesus said that he would be buried, but only for three days.
The Resurrection is proof that the words of Jesus are truth.
Second, we confess that Jesus is who he claims to be.
No one who is merely human has any power over death.
We can’t stop death.
We can’t avoid it.
And we can’t reverse it.
But Jesus can and did.
After three days he raised himself from the dead.
Only God has this kind of power over life and death.
Jesus said he was God in the flesh, and his resurrection proves it.
A dead man can’t raise himself from the dead, but Jesus is not just a man.
He is true man and true God.
Only God can destroy death.
Jesus has destroyed death by raising himself from the dead.
Jesus is the eternal son of God.
Third, we confess that our sins are forgiven.
Resurrection is Absolution.
In his death, Jesus bore the anger of God against all sinners.
He suffered the punishment that should have been ours.
We were lawbreakers.
We were enemies of God.
We were under the sentence of death, deserving of the wrath of God.
Jesus bore that penalty for our sin.
But did he really?
Does the death of Jesus truly mean that all sin has been paid for?
Did he really succeed in turning aside the wrath of God? Are your sins really forgiven?
How can you know for sure?
Because Jesus rose from the dead.
That is God absolving you.
Where is all your sin that took Jesus’ life?
It is gone.
It is nailed to the cross.
It is buried in the tomb, and when Jesus walked out of that tomb, he left the sins buried.
God is reconciled with man.
The Resurrection of Jesus is God’s absolution of the world.
This is the message of the gospel, the good news of total forgiveness because of Christ’s sacrifice for you.
But not everyone wants to hear this good news.
Because in order to be forgiven, you must be a sinner.
In order to need the cure, you must have the disease.
In order to be pardoned, you must first have been condemned.
When the message of Christ, that all your sins are forgiven, is preached many people answer, “What sins?
I’m a relatively good person.
I’m not sick.
I’m not under the judgment of God.
I am not condemned.”
But the Bible clearly teaches that the whole world stands guilty before God.
Don’t call your sins “mistakes” or “lapses in judgment.”
Call them what they are: “sin.”
Because only sinners need the forgiveness of sins.
Only sinners who are sorry for actual sins can receive forgiveness.
Those who don’t think that they sin, or don’t think that they need to repent of their sin, don’t believe in the forgiveness of sins.
They have no reason to go to church to receive a forgiveness that they don’t think they need, so they don’t go.
We who sin and don’t want to continue in it, but rather want to be delivered from its guilt and power, come to see Jesus on Sunday mornings because we know that he has forgiveness to give, and that he gives it freely to all in need.
Those who will not receive and believe his absolution remain condemned.
The gift of Christ is freely given to all, but only the thirsty will drink the water of salvation.
Only the hungry will eat the Bread of Life.
The Resurrection is God’s absolution of the whole world, but only those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will seek out this forgiveness.
This is the main reason we go to church every Sunday morning.
Because it was on a Sunday morning that God absolved us.
We run to church to hear this Gospel.
The women went to see the dead body of Jesus.
We, the church, gather together as Jesus’ living body on Sunday.
Every Sunday is a mini-Easter, where we come to receive the absolution that Jesus won for us on the first great Easter.
The wrath of God against sin has been turned away.
We are reconciled to our heavenly Father.
Christ has made peace between God and man.
We are forgiven and he is risen!
Finally, we confess that because Jesus rose, we too shall rise in glory on the last day.
To be a Christian means to be a follower of Jesus.
He was the first to step out of his tomb, but he will not be the last.
Every one of his believers will follow in his footsteps.
We believe and confess that the dying bodies in which we now live will be raised from the dead and be glorified in immortal and incorruptible bodies.
“See,” the angel said, “He is going before you.
He is risen!”
He goes before us and we shall follow him into eternal life.