The Sign Of The Resurrection
March 31, 2018
Verse: Isaiah 25:6–25:9
Christ Lutheran Church
April 1, 2018
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
The Sign Of The Resurrection
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isaiah 25:6-9)
What we just heard is Isaiah’s prophesy of the feast we are celebrating today!
750 years before it ever happened the Word of the LORD, Jesus, that is, came to Isaiah, consorted and communed with him, and told Isaiah all that would happen to the Incarnate Christ in the future. The pre-incarnate Christ told Isaiah: How the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:31).
And Isaiah faithfully recorded this priceless treasure – but he didn’t just record it, and then lock it away in the temple, and roll a large stone over it to seal it in place. Instead, he preached it long and loud to all who would hear, to all who came within the sound of his voice, even as it is being preached to you today. To you, whom the Holy Spirit has called and gathered to hear it in this House of God today.
Make no mistake about it, O Easter Worshiper, the Holy Spirit brought you here!
You did not come here today of your own volition, unavoidable circumstance or other plausible reason. You are here today, hearing this Platinum Prophesy today, because God is kind. Because he wants to make you alive, by this Word, so that you, like Jesus, might rise from the dead and live forever!
The first thing we need to know about Isaiah’s prophesy is that it is not exclusively about Easter. It is about that, but first it is about God’s Mountain. About Calvary! And about Christ crucified thereon. He is the feast of rich food, and the fine wine, that Isaiah speaks to us about today.
A lesson most beautifully stated in V.1 of today’s communion hymn:
At the Lamb's high feast we sing
praise to our victorious King,
who hath washed us in the tide
flowing from His piercèd side;
praise we Him whose love divine
gives His sacred blood for wine,
gives His body for the feast,
Christ the Victim, Christ the Priest.
This, dear Christians, is what Isaiah saw 750 years before it occurred, and what we see before us today! For, you see, the church does not assemble simply to tell stories from once upon a time! But to participate in our Lord’s death and resurrection! And to be nourished by it in this Holy House, on this very day, as the flesh of Jesus moves from the altar (a symbol of the tomb) and is placed upon our tongues!
This brings us to today’s title – The Sign Of The Resurrection.
You should know that throughout Christian history there has never been a symbol of the resurrection.
No, it’s not the empty cross! That was a knee-jerk reaction that comes to us courtesy of the radical reformers of the 16th century; and kept alive by their followers; a practice sadly imitated by many Lutherans.
Nor is the empty tomb the symbol of the Lord’s resurrection. No doubt you have all seen artistic renderings of the tomb with the stone moved to the side. Or perhaps of the cross with the shroud wrapped around it – as we see on our bulletin covers today.
But none of these has invaded the Christian landscape or engaged the Christian imagination the way that the actual symbol of the Resurrection has – which is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Because within this earth-shattering death of God’s Son, the seed of the Resurrection resides. For, you see, our Lord’s death on the cross was not his downfall, but his victory instead. His conquest over devil, death and sin - in short over all that is evil and unjust in this world; and that makes us cry and wish that we had never been born; a battle that he engaged, and a triumph that he won "for us men and for our salvation.”
And thank God for it, dear Christians! Stand up today and the roof tops and praise God with the voice of a thousand thunder claps. Because unless God himself should defeat the mighty devil, number his days, and mightily shield us from his wicked schemes, Satan would sift us all like wheat! He would turn us into his miserable playthings, his disconsolate slaves, and victims of every perversion, in a world without end! And there is nothing worse than that!
And so whatever else charms you today, whatever summons you with alluring voice, and wishes to have your allegiance: be it money, pleasure, an easy life, the love and praise of men – be sure to know that it is the Evil One appearing as an angel of light, and deceiving you, so that he can abuse you to the content of his lying, murdering heart.
And so run for your life! Run to the cross, by which you are saved, and by which you win the victory over the god of this world, whom the culture dogmatically worships, and blindly praises.
This is most wonderfully stated in the Easter Stanza (Troparion) sung by the Greek Church:
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling death, by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Yes, the cross is the definitive sign of the Resurrection – that feeds our faith, extinguishes our passions, transforms our minds, and forgives our sins as we gaze and contemplate the love of God displayed thereon.
But the thing you will soon see on the altar below it – the consecrated bread and wine – that is not a symbol. That is not an icon. That is Jesus! That is the crucified, risen, and glorified Lord who swallowed up death on the cross, and removed the veil that covers the nations by his resurrection.
It is the Lord! (John 21:7) The victim, priest and feast. The living bread that comes down from heaven (John 6:51) to our altar each Sunday. And if anyone eats of this bread … he will live forever. For his flesh is true food, and his blood is true drink. (John 6:55)
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. Take eat! Take drink! For Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Hallelujah! Amen.