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Easter Sunday – April 17, 2022

Easter Sunday – April 17, 2022

I have heard preachers respond to the theology of the cross by saying, “We’re not Good Friday people, we are Easter people.” They, and others, advocate for demonstrating that resurrected life now, forcing it into visibility. There is reason for this. You could read the fourth point under the Sacrament of Baptism in Luther’s Small Catechism, “What does this mean for daily living Answer: That our sinful self, with all its evil deeds and desires, should be drowned through daily repentance; and that day after day a new self should arise to live with God in righteousness and purity forever.” In the reading of that you can hear how someone could assume “new self” would be the resurrected self. It is not so. In Romans 6, Paul makes it clear that our baptism into the death of Jesus is an accomplished fact (Ro. 6:4a). This accomplished fact of our being baptized into the death of Jesus establishes our hope in being resurrected like Jesus. That resurrection, however, still lies in our future; it is a hope, not yet a reality (Ro. 6:4b, 5, & 8). For the time being… while the flesh still adheres… in these the days of our baptism… the sinful self is indeed drowned through daily repentance but the new self that arises is not the resurrected self but the mortal self (the flesh) that now has Jesus as its life. Paul affirms this, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). So we are not Easter people for the resurrection to eternal life remains ahead of us. Yet, we are not quite Good Friday people either. We are Holy Saturday people, stripped by the cross of all visible assurance that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, having only his Word and his promise “On the third day…,” and living entirely in faith that our God does not lie and living only on hope for that promised resurrection.

From one who’s been stripped of pretension by the cross and who depends solely on the promise…

Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son, exposes my sin and convicts me of participating in his crucifixion and death. Free me of my guilt through the forgiveness of my sins. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son, puts an end to all my pretensions at holiness and sanctity. Grant me true holiness and true sanctity as the Holy Spirit delivers them in the person of Jesus Christ come to be my life. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son, strips me of reliance on all my works, even those I consider most precious and good. Give me instead a reliance entirely upon the work of Christ. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son, turns me toward my neighbor and gives me eyes to see how I have abused them by forcing my own agenda upon them. Forgive me, as I now try to live in their service rather than serving myself. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son puts me to death, taking that sinful and wretched self of mine down beneath the waters of baptism and its subsequent days of repentance. So raise me up to that newness of life wherein Christ is the life of my mortal flesh that I may be of use to my neighbors and creation itself. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son sets before us all its critiques upon all things in this passing away world. Grant the Institute of Lutheran Theology to teach its students how to so preach the cross that their preaching would bring the cross’ critique before their hearers. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, the cross of your Son and the humiliation afflicted upon him is joined to us in our baptism into Christ. Grant the Holy Spirit to work faith and hope through the preaching of the Word that I might wait in both faith and hope until that day when the resurrection of the body becomes my reality. Lord in your mercy. Hear my prayer.