Speak, Lord!
Easter Tuesday
18 April 2017
The tomb was empty on Easter Sunday morning. The religious authorities had to shut up the guard they set on the tomb (Mt 28:11-15), because they knew that the tomb was empty. They had seen the risen Lord (Mt 28:4). It is incontrovertible that the tomb was empty, because the enemies of the gospel had to whisper about that the body had been stolen. This fictional theft was only necessary to account for an empty grave. If the Sanhedrin had known where the body of Jesus was, they would have dragged it through the streets of Jerusalem, like Achilles dragged the body of Hector before the gates of Troy. This would have been proof positive that Jesus was indeed still dead. Their inability to do so, coupled with their claim of body snatching gives good evidence of the shocking emptiness of the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, one of their own number.
 
The ruling authorities, though confronted with the empty tomb, grasped at straws to explain away the missing body. Thus began a cottage industry in doubt that has come down to us today. We doubt the resurrection because we have not seen it, even though Jesus pronounces those blessed who have not seen and yet believed (Jn 20:29). How remarkable today that we, who believe in all manner of unseen and only vaguely known things, should doubt the ability and power of God to raise the dead.
 
This is a testimony not only to God's power, but also to His weakness. He depends on the power of His own Word to tell us of the resurrection of our Lord and therefore the certainty of our own. Holy Scripture is the eye witness testimony to the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. We would not know what the empty tomb meant apart from God's own interpretation of it. This is why Jesus says to the Emmaus disciples, who did not know what the empty tomb meant, "'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?' And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lk 24:25-27). Only God's Word can tell us what the empty tomb means.
 
Holy Scripture has a pretty good record of telling us the truth. Why should we doubt its veracity in telling us the meaning of the empty tomb? Every seed of truth has sprouted into a shade-giving tree of life for us poor sinners. If the testimony of God's Word so connects itself to the testimony of the truth in every case, why should we doubt the truth of the resurrection? Why should we too be foolish and slow of heart to believe what God's Word says? If we were so foolish and slow of heart, we would not only be like the Emmaus disciples, but also like the Sanhedrin. Both the disciples and the Sanhedrin knew that the tomb was empty, but did not believe that God had promised to raise His Son from the dead. Nor is this some small point of the holy faith. First, Christianity is irrelevant if Christ has not been raised from the dead. Either the church has a living Lord, or she has no right to exist. Second, because Christ is the Head of the church and we are His body, what happens to Him is what happens to us. "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (1Co 15:17). However, if the One seed has been planted which gives forth life to all others, then we too shall live with Him. We only know the meaning of the resurrection in the divine speech. Speak, Lord!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Gregory of Nyssa
 
"Considering the dissolution of bodies, and judging God by the measure of human power, someone might assert that the idea of the resurrection is impossible, saying that it cannot be that both those things which are now in motion should become inert, and those things which are now unmoving should rise again.
 
"Let such a person take as the first and greatest evidence of the truth of the resurrection the credibility of the herald who proclaims it. Now the faithfulness of what is said derives its certainty from the result of the other predictions. As the divine Scripture delivers statements many and various, it is possible by examining how the rest of the utterances stand in the matter of falsehood and truth to survey also, in the light of them, the doctrine concerning the resurrection. For if in the other matters the statements are found to be false and to have failed of true fulfillment, neither is the resurrection out of the region of falsehood. But if all the other predictions have experience to vouch for their truth, it would seem logical to esteem as true, on their account, the prediction concerning the resurrection also.
 
"For if a farmer were explaining the power of seeds, and if some person inexperienced in farming should disbelieve him, it would be sufficient proof of his statement for the farmer to show him the power existing in one seed from the bushel and make it a proof of the rest. For he would see the single grain of wheat or barley, or whatever might be the contents of the bushel, grow into an ear after being cast into the ground. By the means of the one case he would cease also to disbelieve concerning the others, so the truthfulness which confessedly belongs to the other statements seems to me to be sufficient also for evidence of the mystery of the resurrection."

Gregory of Nyssa, On the Making of Man, 25.1-2, 5
Acts 13:26-33

"Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'" (ESV)
Prayer
Almighty God, through the resurrection of Your Son You have secured peace for our troubled consciences. Grant us this peace evermore that trusting in the merit of Your Son we may come at last to the perfect peace of heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
 
For all church musicians, that they might lead the faithful into the green pastures and still waters of God's Word
 
For Jill Stoneburner, who is suffering from cancer, that the Lord Jesus would grant healing and strength
 
For those who are suffering inclement weather, that they might be kept safe in the midst of challenging conditions
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Resurrection (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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