Easter Sunday – St. Matthew 28:1-10
There are a couple of things happening in our Gospel reading this morning. First and foremost, we have the joyous good news that the tomb is empty and that Jesus is alive. The angels deliver the news to the women, who upon their departure see Jesus for themselves, who then tells them to go and tell the disciples the good news that they have heard and now seen for themselves.
Now that is most certainly good news; news that everyone can rejoice over; news that you would think would win over even the harshest critics of Jesus, even those who went out of their way to put Him to death.
But there is actually a very interesting side note that St. Matthew includes for us. For while the angels, the women and Jesus are all at the tomb, we read in the verses following that the soldiers have the unpleasant duty of going and reporting to the chief priests and telling them that despite their best efforts, Jesus had in fact risen from the dead, and the tomb that seemed secure, was now empty.
St. Matthew then records that the guards were paid a sufficient amount of money and told that if anyone asked, they should report that the disciples came and stole the body during the night.
And so as it turns out, not everyone is excited that Jesus is alive. Not everyone rejoices in the good news of the angels. Not everyone rushes to tell others the way the women are recorded as doing so.
How can this be? How can someone not be led to rejoice on this holy Easter day?
That is the treachery and deceitfulness of Satan; he has lied to you all Lent telling you that God will do things for you for no reason at all; he has told you that God will be in places that He has not promised to be in; and he has told you that God has said things that He has not actually said.
And Satan has told you lies about yourself: he has told you that you can do things, be things, say things, know things, and feel things that are not actually true.
And in the midst of all of these lies, you have heard once more that Jesus died on the cross for you; that the only way to save you from sin, death and hell was by the perfect sacrifice on the cross of the holy Son of God, and that it happened just as God had promised it would.
And today, Satan comes to you and he lies once more: to those in first century Jerusalem there is the rumor that the disciples stole the body. Sound plausible? Not really; not after we saw the disciples run away in fear at the first sign of conflict; not after we saw Peter deny even knowing Jesus. And yet that is the lie that Satan spreads, because it causes doubt.
And in various ways he still uses that lie today, and for some it works; but not for you. You just sang with gusto Jesus Christ is Risen Today; you did not come here because you thought the disciples stole the body.
But that does not mean that Satan does not have his own lie for you.
He knows not to bother telling you that Jesus is still in the tomb. The devil knows that will not work.
So he tells you that the resurrection is not that big a deal. Oh sure, he says, it is a big deal today; today this is the main deal. But tomorrow? Wednesday? Next Sunday? July? Not so much.
The devil will give you today, but he will try to convince you that today is just today, and nothing else. He will paint Jesus as a religious groundhog. He comes out of the tomb each year on Easter Sunday to loud cheers; and then He goes back in, never to be seen or heard from again until next Easter.
That is the lie the devil tells you each and every day: Jesus is not here to help you; Jesus is not watching over you; Jesus is not guarding and defending you from the devil and his adversaries; Jesus is gone until next Easter, and you are left to fight for yourself. No sense going to church; no sense praying; no sense confessing your sins or receiving the Lord’s Supper; Jesus is not going to be there.
The devil will give you today; but do not doubt that when you wake up tomorrow he will not be back lying to you about who and where God is, and lying to you about yourself and what you can and cannot do.
But remember that the devil is a liar. He lied in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve; he lied to the children of Israel throughout their history; he lied when Jesus rose from the tomb; he lied throughout the history of the Church; he lied to you yesterday; he will lie to you today; and you can be sure that he is going to lie to you tomorrow.
For the truth for you, is that Jesus Christ is risen today, tomorrow and everyday into the future.
The truth for you is that Jesus Christ has overcome hell and the grave on your behalf.
The truth for you is that Jesus Christ has proclaimed victory over hell and its forces.
The truth for you is that Jesus Christ does not abandon you except for this one day of the year; Jesus Christ is with you each and every day from the moment you rise until the moment you go to sleep; and He even watches over you while you are sleeping.
The truth for you is that Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God, pointing to the holes in His hands, feet and side as an eternal reminder that He died and rose to redeem you, beloved children of God.
The truth for you is that Jesus Christ lives and reigns without end.
The truth for you is that Jesus Christ is present here now and always in the Word, in the water, and in the bread and wine.
The truth for you is that Jesus Christ has died once and for all; the work of the cross and empty tomb 2000 years ago is still fresh and good and for you today, and will be so until the day Christ returns to judge the living and the dead.
The truth for you is that though the devil lies to you daily about God and about you and about everything in between, the cross and the empty tomb of Jesus overcomes the lies every time.
All Satan has is lies; he can tell you anything you might ever want to hear, but it always turns out to be a lie. And it has never saved any one.
The cross of Jesus breaks the lies, leaves them shattered on the ground, points to Satan and casts him out forever.
The Truth always wins; and Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.
And He takes the truth of His victory, and He shares it with you; for that is who the truth is for. The truth is for you; for your benefit; for your eternal salvation.
The lies are plentiful; but there is only one truth, and that truth is Jesus Christ. It always has been, and it always will be.
The women depart from the tomb with the truth; they run to tell the disciples, who go out and tell the entire world.
For that is what you do with the truth: you share it with others. When you see a lie, you shine the truth on it. When someone has been deceived by a lie; you point them to the truth. When you question whether something is a lie or not; you measure it against the truth. When you need to know that there is an unchangeable and eternal God, who never forgets His people, you seek out the truth.
The Truth today, and always, is Jesus Christ. He was crucified for you; He has risen for you; He rules heaven and earth and the Church for you; He will come again and take you to be with Him for eternity.
That is no lie; it is the Truth for you.