“Good News” Easter Festival Sermon Matthew 28:1-10 March 23, 2008 I have some Good News for you today

. Do you want to hear it? “He is Risen!” (He is risen indeed, Alleluia) Perhaps you’re thinking, “Oh pastor, that was nice. But it’s nothing new. We’ve heard and said that a million times before. Give us some REALLY good news—like the troops are coming home from Iraq, or the economy has turned the corner, or the church is going to follow the example of the government and give away rebate checks.” (Boy that would be a way to pack the pews, huh?) Those things would all be good news—but not nearly as good as that which we hear today in the Gospel. In fact, did you know that’s what the word “Gospel” means? Good News! You’ve heard that bad news comes in threes? Well in light of the fact that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, Christians can think of Good News the same way—it comes in threes. Hear, dear Christian friends, the three pieces of the Good News that comes to us today. First-- we don’t need to fear death. The angel said to the woman, “Fear Not.” What were the women afraid of? They were afraid of dying. They probably feel like we do when we go to the hospital or the mortuary. We don’t like it—because it reminds us of suffering and death. That is what they were reminded of as they went to the tomb on this first Easter. Certainly they were thinking that if their Lord could not overcome death, then neither could they; that death was the end. There was not only no hope FOR life, but no meaning IN life.
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Perhaps that is what we sometimes think. We hear about ALL the bad news—and experience some ourselves—and we lose hope and meaning for life. But with His resurrection from the dead Jesus gives us a living hope and true meaning for life. For He did overcome death on the cross. He did rise from the tomb. He was alive. And because He was alive, those women knew that they would live also. They no longer needed to fear the power of death—and neither do we. Second, we have the forgiveness of sins. When Jesus was crucified and buried our sins were crucified and buried with Him! Jesus has forgiven us ALL our sins— Not just some of our sins; Not just the really big sins; Not just the sins we are aware of; But ALL of our sins! He has done so purely out of His boundless love and mercy, and does not expect anything in return! The women are told to go and tell Jesus’ disciples—and specifically Peter—that He has risen from the dead. Did you ever wonder why Peter was specifically mentioned? Because he needed to know that he was forgiven for sinning against Jesus. Like Peter, we have all sinned against God and others. Think of the times when we have let our Lord and our loved ones down. But Christ has forgiven us! He has forgiven you! That is Good News. Good News not only for us— but for others. And that is the third part of this Good News—that it is SO good we simply CAN’T keep it to ourselves! The women leave the tomb and are told to tell others. When Peter is told to keep quiet by the council—probably the same one that was
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responsible for Jesus’ death—he responds by saying, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot help but speak of what have seen and heard.” This good news is a gift that we have been given, but one that is intended to be shared with all. It is the Good News that was announced to the world by angels on that first Christmas Morning “Behold I bring you GOOD NEWS of Great Joy that shall be to ALL people”— And the Good news that the angels are announcing on that first Easter, “Fear Not, He is Risen from the dead’; It is the Good News that Paul speaks of in Colossians—that all those who believe and are baptized have already faced death, “for we have been buried with Christ, and when Christ, who is our life appears, we will also appear with Him in glory.” It is the Good News that we hear again, but that NEVER gets old. It is the Good News that gave Rose Groth, and Marie Shupe and Betty Walters such comfort this past week, and that will give others such comfort this week—and in the weeks, months, and years to come. We don’t what kind of bad news we might receive, or which one of us will receive it—It could be you, or it could be me—but we DO know that when we receive the bad news, we will hear Good News that is much, much better-- Jesus is Risen. It is not the kind of Good News that will come the worries on Wall Street; Nor end conflict in the Middle East; or Insure that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny will bring us what we really want.

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It is better than that; for it transcends time, place and eternity. It is the simple Easter news that Jesus Christ is Risen. (He is Risen indeed, Alleluia) Amen.

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