The Lutheran Church of the Triune God

Easter Sunday March 27, 2016

 

Luke 24:1-12 Easter's "Why?" Question

 

Dear fellow redeemed,

We may assume it's the most frequently asked question by the grieving regardless of your background.

1)                  A women's three-year-old son is playing near the driveway and is killed by a hit and run driver.

2)                  A soon-to-be bride witnesses her fiancee die of a heart attack as she watches helplessly.

3)                  A child is told by his mother that Dad will not be returning home on leave as he was planning.

For he was recently killed abroad by enemy fire.

* "Why?" "Why did this have to happen to him?" Why today? Why in this way? Why God?

 

We may call it the Good Friday "why?"

* If there were ever a death, you see, out of which people would have trouble making sense,

it would be the death of our Lord Jesus. This was the promised Christ!

This was God's chosen one!

This was the eternally begotten Son of the Father!"

* Why should he be crucified as a common criminal?

Why should he be sentenced to the most barbaric form of torture known to man?

* "My God my God, why have you forsaken (our Lord)!"

 

Three days later we may assume things would not get a lot easier for either the disciples or the

women who made the trip to Jesus' tomb.

* However perhaps the ladies could silence their "why?" question by busying themselves

with the day's obligations. Funerals are always good that way.

They help you get your mind off your sorrow, for a little while, anyway.

* And so on the third day the women made their way to the grave to embalm the Lord Jesus.

Then again to have a funeral, you need a body. And that presented a problem for them.

* When they entered the tomb we're told "they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus."

Why? First they torture his body, murdering the Lord. Now they steal his body? Why?

Why God?

 

Well, this morning we have a different "why?" question to ask; not a question for the Lord but from

the Lord.

* In the words of his messengers, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

We may call it Easter's "Why?" Question.

* The question on the day of a funeral, of course, is whether you've come to the service in

order to listen and be comforted or in order to cry and sulk.

* If you've come to be comforted, your word to your fellow grievers will also be comforting.

"His suffering is over! She's at peace!" He's with his Lord!"

* Unfortunately, our typical words often change in the event that our loved one has died at a

young age or perhaps suddenly or tragically.

* One remarks: "You poor thing!" "He was too young!" "She had so much to live for!

So much to give!"

* A family member suggests: "I should have gone first!"

Or someone with a little less tact remarks: "what a waste."

 

Now, the person's intentions may be good.

* But they're doing nothing to help you connect your loss to your Christian faith.

They're simply helping you repeat your "why?" question.

* We may wonder whether the women fell victim to this sort of thinking.

"But Jesus had so much to live for!"

"The people he could have healed!" "The suffering he could have ended!"

* Presumably they were not seeing the connection between the Passover and the suffering

and death of their Lord. The Old Testament Passover lamb was slaughtered in such a

way that the blood would flow freely from the stretched out and extended body.

* And so it would be for Christ at the time of his scourging. With his body outstretched

his lashes would cause the blood to flow freely from all the members of his body.

* Why submit to this? Was it to somehow solicit sympathy from those who stood watching?

Was Christ giving them a chance to comment "you poor thing; you're too young!"

 

We may not know what the women said who witnessed Christ's suffering.

* But we may imagine on the third day after that there was more making an impression on

them than the ruthless scourging.

* They had seen him crucified; bulky spikes attaching his flesh to a cross.

His body left to suffocate; his lungs eventually collapsing.

* And if it might be argued that his crucifixion was the actual day of his funeral, the talk was

not predominantly words of compassion, but jeering and mocking.

* Instead of loved ones adjusting his pillow, trying to make him comfortable, we have sadistic

scoundrels casting lots for a seamless garment.

* We can almost hear the cries from the side line: "what a waste!"

 

We must know, however, that funerals typically are not for spectators.

They're for the survivors; family and loved ones of the deceased.

* Unfortunately, sympathy can be turned inward.

Perhaps they haven't had that "why?" question answered yet in a satisfactory way.

* Or perhaps they're not anticipating that they ever will.

They may be convinced there isn't an answer that can satisfy them.

* The question "why?" you see, serves as a complaint; a protest against God.

"How can you be so uncaring?!"

And that being the case, it's also an excuse to feel sorry for oneself.

 

That's how the funeral is often perceived. It's a day, as a survivor, to feel sorry for yourself.

* Consider the reaction of the eleven.

They're approached by the women who obviously are extremely excited.

It's not every day you see a couple of angels, and with news that Christ is risen!

* But they don't believe the women. Their words seem like an idle tale.

* Actually according to law, they weren't required to believe a woman's witness.

Imagine that! According to the law, this day should not be a day for believing, but for

feeling sorry for yourself.

 

Interestingly, we see the same thing in our modern age of liberty.

* According to the law you don't have to believe anything.

You may live your life feeling sorry for yourself.

You can have our own religion, or you can have no religion at all.

You can simply keep asking the question "why?" Why me? Why now? Why this way?

* And sometimes it has a way of rubbing off on you and me.

I'm thinking about our time to mourn when the funeral is over.

"There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance" Solomon

declares.

* But you and I know we're not required to experience healing in a designated period of time.

There's no rule on how long the grieving period must last.

* And for some that's apparently just fine.

Sometimes it's easier to keep asking why, than to listen to the answer why.

* We see this with mourners who'd rather dwell on how much better their life used to be, than

on how much better the new life is for their departed loved one.

* It seems that working through the grieving; feeling positive about the future without our loved

one is the same as betraying our loved one.

* So we feel sorry; sorry for ourselves and sorry for them.

Shall we talk about their happiness in heaven? It seems a bit silly.

* Sometimes we may be guilty of this even before death arrives.

We're afraid to let a loved one talk about dying and their readiness for heaven.

* It doesn't make sense to talk about a new life away from us, however perfect a life it be.

It makes more sense that this dying loved one feel sorry along with us.

 

Honestly? You may be reminded of your husband's "sympathy pains".

* Have you heard of Couvade Syndrome?

Researchers tell us that this phenomenon - in which men experience physical symptoms

and pains associated with late-stage pregnancy - is surprisingly common.

* Really! You're in pain because I'm in pain; because you love me so much you don't want

me to be in pain alone? How about helping me figure out how the heck to get rid of the

pain?

* Jesus Christ does much more than sympathize with us. He dies for us and then he rises again
to prove to that he died for us and that his death saved us.

* This was the message of the angels. "Why do you seek the living among the dead?

He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee that the

Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third

day rise."

* "You don't have to look for the living among the dead!

Look for yourselves! The tomb is empty.

* "This can mean only one thing! It's just as Jesus told you!

Death could not hold him! He's the Lord God, after all!"

* We may argue that the women should have put two and two together.

Yes. The stone is rolled away. But why ask "why?" They knew why he had come!

* Yet in his loving grace, Christ sends angels to help the women decipher what's staring

back at them in the form of an empty tomb. "Remember what the Lord told you in Galilee."

"And they remembered his words."

 

And we should know that we're really no different than these women.

* We know Jesus has conquered sin and death by dying and rising again.

He's prepared a place for us in heaven.

But then comes the day when we're unexpectedly stung by death.

And we want to know why.

* Perhaps, you're embarrassed and ashamed by the question.

But to tell you the truth asking "why" is as natural as death itself.

* Rather than trying to avoid or bury the question, you'd do better letting the question simply

lead you to a second "why?" question; "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

* Call to mind Easter's "Why?" Question.

For that's when you may recall the words of Christ.

As told by the angels, "He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you . . .

the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on

the third day rise."

* To fulfill his promise, he had to be crucified.

He's the Lamb of God, who along can take away the sins of the world.

* Therefore, in order to take away our sin, he had to die. He had to receive the penalty

for our sin - being judged and condemned in our place.

* And for this reason he had to be a fellow human being.

In our place he had to be crucified and suffer death, for it was the only way the

God-Man would redeem sinners, earning in our behalf forgiveness and everlasting life.

 

Have you ever wondered why the women and disciples failed to remember Jesus' Words?

* It may be that they didn't want to remember.

The words about his arrest and crucifixion simply induced fear and anguish.

* In a matter of speaking, that can happen when we hear God's Word.

At first, we don't want to hear about the death of Christ.

Christ's death simply reminds me of the death of that family member and the grief we're

experiencing.

* Christ's death also reminds me that I'm responsible for his death, for I've fallen short of

God's perfect standard and deserve nothing less than to die myself by crucifixion.

* But then we hear the very same word concerning our Savior's death, and we realize that

it was right there on that very cross that he obligated himself to save me.

 

And so it was that Christ must rise from the dead.

* He didn't come to our world to merely earn a passing grade for us; so that when our sin

is all gone we may nevertheless die that sad pathetic death.

* No. Christ came that he might die, but also that he might rise again.

To assure me that what he did on the cross was valid and counted for a world of sinners

and for me, he had to rise again.

* And so he did! He died and rose for you so that you may hear why and so that you may

believe.

 

The question "why?" is one we're bound to ask regardless of our background.

* Imagine finding yourself standing with the women or the eleven that day Christ died.

I'm sure it would be similar to your visit to the funeral home after the tragic death of a loved

one.

* The remark of the day would sound something like this: "The poor soul!

Christ had so much to live for!"

* That's true. But he had even more to die for, didn't he?!

And we do too; you and I and that loved one you can't imagine being without.

* Death's sting, you see, has been removed. It may no longer have the last word.

And Jesus has told us why.

"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live." Amen.

 

May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.