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Entering The Tomb With Jesus - Easter Vigil

April 20, 2019 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: Mark 16:5–16:6

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
April 20, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Easter Vigil
Entering The Tomb With Jesus

And entering the tomb they were stunned to see a young man seated to their right, adorned in white robe. And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed!" You are seeking Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He has been raised! He is not here! See the place where they laid him! Mk. 16:5-6

When the faithful women entered the tomb they saw things and heard things that took their breath away.

They saw a “young man,” an angel really, stationed to their right, and heard the Easter gospel from his lips.

He knew what had happened! He knew that his Lord had been prosecuted for the sins of his beloved; that Jesus had suffered a sinner’s death for them, that he was buried, descended into hell to proclaim his victory, and was now raised again to New Life by the glory of the Father!

He knew all these things and his jaw dropped at the thought of them: the dying love displayed on the cross – to say nothing of the mind-boggling design of God to redeem Creation. To redeem it in a way that would forever right all that the Evil One had made wrong. Though the cross is “foolishness” to the world it was not to this angel who rejoiced in wonder!

How do we know this? From St. Peter’s first Epistle where he informs us that “angels long to gaze upon these things.” (1:12). Yes, this angel gazed in wonder at the empty tomb! Marveled at the risen Lord now on his post-resurrection mission to show himself alive! And to establish his church so that by her all men might repent and come to the knowledge of the truth.

We are among those men who have so repented, who have entered death and the tomb with Jesus, by Holy Baptism.

That is what St. Paul teaches us in Romans 6:4, “We were, therefore, ENTOMBED WITH HIM through Baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised out of death by the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.”

What does this mean? It means that we sacramentally died and, just like the Easter women, entered the tomb with him. But what we did sacramentally we will do again in real time. But the result will be the same.

Now, we rise again with Christ to walk in newness of life. That is to say we live the baptismal life; whose foundation is this holy worship. But worship that continues beyond these walls each day as we drown the Old Adam, and rise daily to serve God in righteousness and purity forever.

But next time we enter the tomb, then we will rise again to a Newness of Life that defies description, but one we get a hint of by the “white robe” that the angel was dressed in.

In Scripture the color White is code for cleanliness, for sins forgiven and stains removed. It is the color of New Beginning, and endless Day, the color of Christ’s own holiness.

But this is not merely a “talking point” for Christians. As the “young man” was Dressed in White so are we, just like St. Paul says! “All who are baptized into Christ, are clothed with Christ.” (Gal. 3:27)

That is no metaphor! Nor is St. Paul engaging in metaphor when he says some 90 times in his sermons that we are “in Christ”. As often as he does so, he is referencing Holy Baptism.

By it Jesus becomes our new place of residence. We are “in him”. Clothed with him! We are no longer homeless, naked or ashamed in our sin as were Adam and the Woman before God in the garden.

Moreover as we enter Jesus in Holy Baptism – he also enters us in Holy Communion. His glorified and living flesh takes up residence in our dead flesh, and imparts glorious and unending Life to us. 

Lastly, the angel tells the women: “See the place where they laid him.” Tonight we do the same, and not just in our sweet imaginations.

Look at the Holy Altar before your eyes. God’s altar. Not man’s. This is the earthly throne of Christ where he graciously unites himself to us, and it is no charade!

The Lord we commune with on this altar is real. The same Lord who “was made Man”. Who was “crucified dead and buried” and “raised again on the third day in accord with the Scriptures …”

Who not only will come again in glory, but comes in Eucharistic glory to his church as often as we eat THIS bread, and drink THIS cup.

This is the Lord we receive tonight. Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus of Heaven who loves us, abides with us, and leads us every step of the way from death to life; from here to eternity. Amen.