“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” Matthew 18:6-7

Sad to say, offenses — those things, whether it be false doctrine or a sinful life, which cause people to fall into sin and unbelief — come! People, as a result of their own rebellious and sinful natures, cause others to join with them in their unbelief and sin and often bring about their eternal ruin.

That is why Jesus has such strong words for those who cause others to sin and to turn away from Christ and His Word. And this is especially so when it comes to harming the faith of children and new believers.

Jesus said: “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Thus, we must say with Jesus that it is a most serious matter when parents do not teach their children to know the LORD and His ways or when they deny them baptism and keep them from their Savior. And it is a grievous offense when one causes another who has come to believe on Christ and to hear His Word to turn away. As Jesus said, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” It would be better to be drowned in the sea than to stand before the LORD God on judgment day responsible for the eternal ruin of souls. “Woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”

This is also why it is so important that, when we have erred or fallen into some public sin which could be a cause of stumbling for others, we give God the glory and acknowledge our own sin and wickedness and turn to Him with a penitent heart, seeking His mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus. The way to remove an offense is not by hiding it or covering it up. It’s not by justifying or excusing our own sinfulness. It is by taking our sins to the foot of the cross in faith and having them washed away and cleansed by the blood of the Lamb who suffered and died for the sins of the whole world.

Offenses will come, Jesus said. We can expect, as long as we are in this sinful world, that there will be those who cause others to sin and who lead weak believers away from Christ and His Church with their lies. There will always be those who fight against Christ and the Gospel of forgiveness and life in His name. And we must say, Woe to those who cause offense and destroy souls redeemed by Christ’s holy and precious blood!

And lest we offend, let us also continually examine our own faith and life, agreeing with God’s Word, confessing and acknowledging our sins and errors, and looking in faith to Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for mercy and forgiveness (cf. 1 John 1:7 — 2:2). And let us then follow Christ and heed His Word. He alone is our hope and salvation, and His Word is our only true light!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). Amen.

[Scripture quoted from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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The Work of the Good Shepherd podcast

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and we consider the ongoing gracious work of Christ Jesus, our Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for us, His sheep, and is now risen again. And, the Scriptures speak of Christ’s work as a shepherd in many places.

In Ezekiel 34:1-6, 15-16, we read: “And the word of the LORD came to me, saying: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourself with the wool; you kill those who are fed without feeding the flock. The diseased you have not strengthened, nor have you healed that which was sick, nor have you bound up that which was broken, nor have you brought back that which was driven away, nor have you sought that which was lost. But with force and with cruelty you have subjugated them. They were scattered because there was no shepherd. And they became meat to all the beasts of the field and were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains and upon every high hill. Indeed, My flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and no one searched or sought after them. … I will feed My flock, and I will cause them to lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek that which was lost and bring back that which was driven away and bind up that which was broken and will strengthen that which was sick. But I will destroy the fat and the strong. I will feed them with judgment” (cf. all of Ezekiel 34).

God lays much of the blame for the fact that His people of Israel had turned away and came under His judgments upon the shepherds who should have been feeding and nourishing God’s sheep with His Word.

Had they been preaching and teaching God’s Word, admonishing and bringing back those who were erring and wandering from the fold and comforting those who were overwhelmed with guilt and the problems of life, God’s flock would not have been scattered and carried away by their enemies. Instead, those who should have been shepherds to God’s people were busy feeding themselves and taking advantage of the sheep under their care.

The same, of course, is true today in regard to the pastors who have been given a charge to shepherd God’s flock over which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers (cf. Act 20:28). Instead of shepherding the flock and using God’s Word and His Sacraments to feed and nourish the souls entrusted to their care, pastors take advantage of the sheep and seek worldly gain at the cost of those they should be nourishing. Instead of watching over the flock and protecting it from false doctrine, pastors are often the ones advancing false doctrine and erring views that destroy faith (cf. Rom. 16:17-18). Instead of admonishing the erring and giving God’s comfort to the penitent and suffering, pastors say nothing against the sinful lifestyles of our day and offer false comfort to the impenitent and erring.

What does God say He will do? “I will save My flock, and they shall no more be a prey. And I will judge between one sheep and another. I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even My servant David. He shall feed them himself and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and My servant David shall be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken” (Ezek. 34:22-24).

God promised to send His only-begotten Son into the world, born a descendant of David, of the Virgin Mary. He would be the Good Shepherd who would gather God’s sheep from all the nations where they had been driven. He would give His life for the sheep to redeem them and restore them to God’s flock. He would feed His sheep with His Word and Sacraments and protect them from the assaults of those who seek to destroy and devour God’s flock, and He would judge the shepherds who took advantage of God’s flock and failed to be true shepherds to them.

In Isaiah 40:10-11, we read: “See, the Lord GOD will come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; see, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

In Jeremiah 23:1-4, we read: “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! says the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds that feed My people: You have scattered My flock and driven them away and have not visited them. I am about to punish you for the evil of your deeds, says the LORD. I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries wherever I have driven them and bring them again to their folds, and they shall be fruitful and increase. I will also set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they will fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor will they be missing, says the LORD.”

And we heard Jesus’ words today in John 10:11-16: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But he who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and runs away. So the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because he is a hired hand and does not care about the sheep. ‘I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and am known by My own. Even as the Father knows Me, so I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep who are not of this fold. I must also bring them, and they will hear My voice. There will be one flock and one shepherd.’”

What does this Word of God say to us today? To pastors, it is a stern warning to shepherd God’s sheep with God’s Word. It is a warning not to abuse or neglect God’s flock but to preach the whole truth revealed in the Bible and to faithfully apply God’s Word to recover the straying, to admonish the indifferent, to comfort and bind up the weak and injured and to gather the lambs to their Savior. Those who don’t fulfill their duties will be held responsible for their failures to shepherd God’s sheep, but those who do the work entrusted to them will receive a reward (cf. 1 Cor. 4:1-2).

Peter writes (1 Peter 5:2-4): “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, take care of them, not by constraint, but willingly, not for dishonest gain, but eagerly. Do not lord over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of glory that will not fade away.”

And to the sheep, it is a reminder that the Good Shepherd continues to watch over our souls. He feeds and nourishes us with His Word and Sacraments. His Word reveals to us our sinfulness and comforts us with the good news of forgiveness and life through faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice on the cross.

And, indeed, He gave His life His sheep! Isaiah 53:6 tells us: “All of us like sheep have gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way, but the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus gave His life for us and with His Word, He admonishes us when we go astray, He comforts us when we repent and look to Him for pardon and peace, He encourages and comforts us when we are weighed down with guilt and overwhelmed by the troubles of this life.

His Word tells us in 1 John 1:7 — 2:2: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you, so that you do not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

When His called ministers are faithfully doing their duty, God commands us in Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls as those who must give an account. Let them do this with joy and not complaining, for that would not be profitable to you.”

And, of course, the ultimate goal is that we, God’s sheep, dwell with the Lord Jesus forever. The goal is that expressed in Psalm 23:6: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

And we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever when, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacraments, we are preserved in the true faith and trust in Christ and His cross alone for pardon and for life everlasting!

“Savior, like a shepherd, lead us; much we need Your tender care. In Your pleasant pastures feed us, for our use your fold prepare. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, You have bought us; we are Yours.” Amen. (Lutheran Service Book, Hymn No. 711, Verse 1.)

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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Though most do not see it, we as believers in the 21st century are in grave danger because pastors and church members fail to hold fast to Christ and His Word. What follows are just a few of the dangers currently threatening churches and believers.

1) Mixed-up priorities — Each and every one of us is a sinner, and we will die in our sins and be condemned to hell if we neglect the salvation God offers and gives through the promises of His Word and Sacraments; and yet we pay little heed. We neglect God’s Word and we fail to partake of His Sacraments.

a) This is evident in that sporting events, shopping centers, entertainment venues, and even doctor’s offices are full but churches in which the truth of God’s Word is proclaimed are empty. This reveals how so many see little need or benefit from the care and nourishment of their souls.

b) Jesus called upon sinners to repent and believe the gospel of forgiveness and life in His name (Mark 1:14-15; 16:15-16). He said in John 8:24: “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

2) We take sin lightly — both pastors and church members fail to recognize the dangers of sin. Those calling themselves Christians continue to live in open and willing disobedience to God’s Word, recorded for all to read in the Bible, and pastors say nothing even though the end result is death, spiritual and eternal.

a) The Bible warns in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, and you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of our God.”

b) Hebrews 10:26-31 says: “For if we willfully continue to sin after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation, which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who despised Moses’ law died without mercy in the presence of two or three witnesses. How much more severe a punishment do you suppose he deserves, who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded the blood of the covenant that sanctified him to be a common thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine,’ says the Lord, ‘I will repay.’ And again He says, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

3) Both pastors and people underestimate the enemy. We are opposed by the devil, the world, and even by our own flesh. Yet, we are willing, even delighted, to dabble in sin — to hear and spread gossip, to view sexually suggestive images in print or on TV or our electronic devices, to entertain evil thoughts and desires, to give in to the weaknesses of our own flesh or the temptations placed before us by the world.

a) Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober and watchful, because your adversary the devil walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Paul warns in Ephesians 6:12: “For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Cf. Ephesians 6:10-20.

b) Sin easily deceives and entangles us, and it brings about spiritual death and damnation. The writer to the Hebrews says, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). James includes this warning in his epistle, in chapter one, verses 13-15: “Let no man say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither does He tempt anyone. But each man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin; and when sin is finished, it brings forth death.”

c) Our own flesh is corrupted by sin and deceives us, as Jeremiah writes in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is more deceitful than all things and desperately wicked.” Our flesh desires and longs to indulge in sinful pleasures. Paul describes its corruptness in these words: “Now the works of the flesh are revealed, which are these: adultery, sexual immorality, impurity, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, rage, selfishness, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I previously warned you, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

4) Pastors fail to preach against sin as sin and warn of the consequences of sin, that their hearers might repent and take comfort in the Gospel. Pastors and churches say nothing against (and sometimes even endorse) such things as fornication, adultery, homosexuality, same-sex marriages, transgenderism, drunkenness, drug abuse, gossip, etc., etc., etc.

a) Pastors are to administer the office of the keys, forgiving the sins of penitent sinners and retaining the sins of the impertinent as long as they do not repent. This means that pastors are to rebuke as sin all that the Bible calls sin, and pastors are to proclaim God’s promise of pardon and forgiveness to all who repent and look to God for mercy in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Son. Jesus said to His apostles in John 20:21-23: “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you.’ When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven them. If you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.’” Cf. 1 John 1:3ff.

b) Pastors are responsible for warning God’s flock when they fall into sin or error. In the book of Ezekiel, in chapter three, we read these words: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman to the house of Israel. Whenever you hear the word from My mouth, then warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you do not warn him, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity. But you have delivered your soul” (v. 17-19; read v. 16-27)).

5) Pastors fail to preach the promises of the Gospel to penitent sinners that they might hear and take comfort in the forgiveness, pardon, and life eternal won for them by the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the cross (cf. 1 John 2:1-2). So often because pastors fail to preach against sin and its consequences, they also fail to preach Christ crucified as the only hope for sinful people. Pastors sometimes prescribe human works and efforts as a solution to sin, leading to utter failure. And, sometimes, pastors, fail to offer any Gospel comfort at all, leaving troubled souls to despair. We have an example of this failure in the words of the chief priests and elders of Israel to Judas after he recognized his sin in betraying Jesus (Matthew 27:3-6): “When Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood.’ They said, ‘What is that to us? You must see to that.’ So he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed. And he went and hanged himself.”

6) Both pastors and Christians imagine that they can preserve and maintain their own faith apart from the regular hearing of God’s Word and reception of the Sacraments. Yet, the Bible clearly tells us:

a) “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17); and “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. As it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).

b) St. Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:14-17: “But continue in the things that you have learned and have been assured of, knowing those from whom you have learned them, and that since childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through the faith that is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Paul commands Timothy as a pastor to: “Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

c) Hebrews 10:25 says, “Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but let us exhort one another, especially as you see the Day approaching.”

7) We neglect to encourage one another with God’s Word and pray for one another. Yet God’s Word urges us:

a) “Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much” (Hebrews 10:25).

b) “Brothers, if a man is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, watching yourselves, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2; cf. Matthew 18:15-18).

c) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

In summary, we Christian pastors and church members need to wake up and get serious about God and the teaching of His Word. We need to acknowledge our own sinfulness and weakness and be aware of the constant threats against our souls coming from without through the devil and others around us in the world, as well as from within because of our own sin-corrupted hearts. We need to cling to the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word and the right administration of the Sacraments that we might continue to repent of our sins and take comfort in the Gospel of forgiveness and life through faith in Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of all upon the cross.

Hold fast to Christ Jesus and to the true teaching of His Word!

Pastor Randy Moll
Good Shepherd Ev. Lutheran Church in Rogers, Ark.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

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So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven them. If you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.” John 20:21-23 (Read John 20:19-23; Cf. Luke 24:46-47; Matt. 18:15-18.)

Jesus has fulfilled the Scriptures. He has suffered and died for the sins of all and is risen again! Now He gives to His church a mission — an assignment and duty. He said to His chosen disciples, “As My Father has sent Me, even so I send you.”

He gave to His disciples the Holy Spirit and a task to carry out — to preach “repentance and remission of sins” in Jesus’ name “to all nations,” beginning right where they were, in Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47; cf. Matt. 28:16-20).

And God’s called ministers today are still to forgive the sins of those who repent and turn to Christ Jesus in faith and to retain the sins of those who do not repent. As Jesus says, “If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven them. If you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained.”

Jesus is not here giving to any person, or to a church, the power to forgive and retain sins according to their own whims or choosing. Rather, He gives to the church and its ministers the duty to preach and proclaim that all should repent and turn to Christ Jesus for forgiveness and life. To those who repent of their sins and turn to Jesus the church proclaims God’s mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus (cf. Psalm 32:1-5; John 8:11; 1 John 1:7 — 2:2). To those who are impenitent and continue on in their sinful ways the church, through its ministers, proclaims God’s wrath and punishment upon their sins! Cf. Matt. 18:15-18; John 8:24; Hebrews 10:26-31; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

Thus, when God’s ministers rightly apply and proclaim God’s Word and counsel, forgiving the sins of penitent sinners and retaining the sins of the impenitent, their words are as certain and true as if God Himself had spoken them from His throne in heaven! Cf. Luther’s Small Catechism, explanation to the Office of the Keys.

What is genuine repentance? It is not simply going through the motions of acknowledging that we are sinners, asking God to forgive us, and then continuing on in our sinful ways (cf. Luke 3:7ff.)! Rather, it is acknowledging and sorrowing over our sinful ways, turning to Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on the cross for forgiveness, and then (as a fruit of repentance) seeking God’s help and aid to amend our lives and live for Christ Jesus, who died for us and rose again (cf. 1 John 1:7—2:6; 2 Cor. 5:15, 17; Psalm 51).

God would have each of us live in continual repentance, examining ourselves in the light of God’s pure Word, being genuinely sorry for our sins and trusting in Jesus’ shed blood for forgiveness, and then continually seeking (in God’s strength) to live our lives according to God’s Word.

Are you genuinely repentant? If so, you are in Christ and have complete forgiveness for all your sins (cf. 1 John 1:7ff.). But if, on the other hand, you are unwilling to give up your sinful ways and turn to God for forgiveness and life in His Son, Jesus Christ, you remain dead in your sins and under God’s wrath and judgment! Cf. Mark 16:16.

Dearest Christ Jesus, we have sinned in thought, word and deed and have failed to live in accord with Your perfect will. Forgive us for the sake of Your holy and precious blood, shed for us upon the cross, and grant us Your Spirit and give us a genuine desire to please You always. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]



Audio of this Message

1 At the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And then there was a great earthquake. For the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his garments white as snow. 4 The soldiers shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid. For I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here. For He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and indeed, He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him. Listen, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. 9 As they went to tell His disciples, suddenly Jesus met them, saying, “Greetings!” They came and took hold of His feet and worshipped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell My brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” Matthew 28:1-10

It had been a painful week for the followers of Jesus. They followed Him as He rode into Jerusalem and was hailed as the Messiah and King of the Jews. They heard His words as He taught in the temple. They heard His laments and rebukes because of unbelief and heard of the judgments to come. They saw His anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. They witnessed His trials, the horrors of His crucifixion and saw His lifeless body taken down from the cross and hastily laid in a nearby tomb before the sabbath day began.

Now, all that remained was to complete His burial before returning home. Jesus was dead. All His teaching about forgiveness of sins, the kingdom of God and eternal life in God’s kingdom was buried with Him in that tomb.

The Gospel of Luke tells us of the women (Luke 23:55 – 24:3): “The women who came with Him from Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was placed. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath, they rested according to the commandment. Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. But when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”

For many today, Easter Sunday is a day to properly finish Jesus’ burial. Lent is over and we can now put Jesus’ sufferings and death behind us and move on to other things — at least for another year. It is a day to say His life and death have meaning and His legacy lives on in our hearts.

But Jesus wasn’t in the tomb! Instead, an angel was there and announced to the women: “Do not be afraid. For I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

And, as the women hurried to tell Jesus’ disciples the news, Jesus met them and greeted them. He was alive — not just in spirit, but bodily — they held his feet and worshiped Him.

His death was full payment for the sins of the world. God accepted the atoning sacrifice of His Son and raised Him up, proving that all who look to Jesus and His cross in faith are justified and forgiven (John 3:15-18; Rom. 4:23-25; 1 Cor. 15:17-20; 1 John 2:1-2).

Jesus truly is the Resurrection and the Life as He said to Martha in John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.”

He lives and we shall live also (John 14:19; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). With Job, we can say: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He will stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, whom I will see for myself, and my eyes will behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27).

All His words and teaching are indeed true! He shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 11:15) and all who trust in His name shall reign with Him in the new heavens and earth (Rev. 7:9-17; 21:1-7)!

Therefore, we come today not to eulogize Him in death but to celebrate His victory over sin, death and the devil for us, and to rejoice in the new and everlasting life He won for us by His death and glorious resurrection on the third day!

O crucified and risen Lord Jesus, grant that we might see and believe the message of the angel and rejoice in Your triumph over sin and death that we might have the certain hope of forgiveness for all our sins and life everlasting through faith in Your name. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.]

The strife is o’er, the battle done

Author: Francis Pott

The strife is o’er, the battle done;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun: Alleluia!

The powers of death have done their worst;
But Christ their legions hath dispersed;
Let shouts of holy joy outburst: Alleluia!

The three sad days are quickly sped;
He rises glorious from the dead;
All glory to our risen Head! Alleluia!

He closed the yawning gates of hell;
The bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
Let hymns of praise His triumphs tell! Alleluia!

On the third morn He rose again,
glorious in majesty to reign.
O let us swell the joyful strain: Alleluia!

Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee,
From death’s dread sting Thy servants free,
That we may live, and sing to Thee: Alleluia!

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