Devotion 174 – Easter (Morning)

Opening Thought

The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tents of the righteous (Psa 118:15).

Text: Mark 16:1–7

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go and tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

Devotion

“Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” the women anxiously asked. “But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large.” The stone which imprisons us in death and the grave is sin. It is so large and heavy that no human and no angel could roll it away. It would certainly keep us imprisoned forever in the pit of death, separated from God, excluded from all life and light. But Jesus has taken away sin and burst open the grave. Then the angel rolled away that stone so that the victory might be seen. Go to Jesus’ grave and see! – Behold, the stone is rolled away! He who died for the sins of the world and said: “It is finished,” He is risen, and His “Finished” is affirmed. If He had not truly paid for our sins in full and fulfilled everything for us, then the death to which He delivered Himself would have held Him fast. Now He is truly arisen, and so it is clear that the cup of death has indeed been drunk, sin’s burden is really taken away. The stone is rolled away. If sin still oppresses your conscience, and death anxiously threatens you, then remember that you are baptized into Him, “who was dead, but is alive,” so that you have died with Him and have been raised with Him. Sin no longer has any power to cause your death. In Christ death was endured, it is finished.

That’s how little sin can make your hearts into a grave full of the offspring of death, a dwelling place for the wicked powers of darkness. You are united with the living Christ, one with Him over whom sin has not a shred of authority. Christ is risen, so the stone is rolled away. Christ is risen, so sin is conquered and death destroyed. To me there is nothing, and can be nothing more glorious than Paul’s declaration that “Jesus Christ has abolished death” (2Ti 1:10). Death, this terrible reality, death – is abolished, so it is no more! Alleluia! If only we could shout the victory cry so that it is heard over all the earth! Truly, death is abolished, death for us and death in us! We are saved from the greatest of all terrors, for we are members of the Body of Him who died and rose again, completely one with Him both in His death and in His resurrection. Our faith is still so weak, but it is firmly grounded in God’s Word and therefore it is stronger than all the gates of hell.

Jesus’ grave is the door for all graves in which the believers’ bodies are laid to rest. The seal is broken and the stone is rolled away. He is the Resurrection and the Life. “Whoever believes on Him, though he may die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Him shall never die” (Joh 11:25-26). Do you believe this? It is completely trustworthy. He who is the Truth Himself has spoken it, so that you can safely set your heart on it. Blessed are you if you believe! Yes, blessed are all who truly believe, though their faith may be weak and struggling!

Closing Prayer

How shall I thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your victory over death and the devil, and for life, eternal life, which You have given me! Grant me grace to live for You as long as I live, to confess Your name by walking in godliness, and to bear much fruit for Your kingdom. And grant me then eternally to stand before the feet of Your throne with praise and thanksgiving. You know, my innermost heart says: Praised be Your glorious name forever! And how blessed I shall be to praise You with a new tongue eternally in Your heaven. Amen.

Hymn

Like the golden sun ascending,
Breaking through the gloom of night,
On the earth his glory spending
So that darkness takes to flight;
Thus my Jesus from the grave
And death’s dismal, dreadful cave,
Rose triumphant Easter morning,
At the early purple dawning.

Thanks to Thee, O Christ victorious!
Thanks to Thee, O Lord of life!
Death hath now no power o’er us,
Thou hast conquered in the strife;
Thanks because Thou didst arise,
And hast opened Paradise!
None can fully sing the glory
Of the resurrection story.

For my heart finds consolation,
And my fainting soul grows brave,
When I stand in contemplation
At Thy dark and dismal grave;
When I see where Thou didst sleep
In death’s dungeon dark and deep,
Yet didst break all bands asunder,
Must I not rejoice and wonder?

Kingo: L 346:1-3 ELH 354:1-3 tr. G. A. T. Rygh;
tune: Werde munter

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