Saturday, April 4, 2015

Homily for Holy Saturday - The Vigil of Easter

John 20:1-18; Genesis 1:1 – 2:3; Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13;
Exodus 14:10 – 15:1; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Jonah 3:1-10; Daniel 3:1-30

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Each of the six Old Testaments readings you have heard this evening have something to do with creation and / or re-creation. And, this is rightly so, for the death and resurrection of Jesus are nothing if they are not the re-creation and the restoration of the LORD’s good creation in the beginning, ruined by Lucifer’s rebellion and the deception, temptation, and fall of our First Parents into rebellion, sin, and death. For, in His death and resurrection, Jesus, the Word of God, by whom, and for whom, the LORD first created all things, fulfilled, restored, and re-created all things anew. In His suffering and death, all sin, and the penalty of all sin, death, was, itself, put to death and buried. And, when Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, sin and death and the devil were left behind, dead in the tomb, and Jesus took up a life that can never die, a life that He freely gives to you and to I, and to all who will believe and trust in Him and in His Word. This is the LORD’s work, and it is glorious in our eyes!

We acknowledged and confessed this to be so even this night in the ancient hymn Benedicite Omnia Opera, “All You Works of the Lord,” singing of all the works that the LORD has done: The creation of the angels, the heavens, the waters above the heavens and below, powers, the sun, moon, and stars, showers and dew, winds, fire, and heat, winter and summer, frost and cold, ice and snow, nights and days, light and darkness, lightings and clouds, the earth, mountains and hills, all green things that grow on the earth, wells and springs, rivers and seas, whales and all that move in the waters, the birds of the air, the beasts and the cattle, the children of men, Israel, the Church, and all Her priests and servants along with the spirits and souls of the righteous, and all the pure and humble of heart – Let us, together, bless the Father and the + Son and the Holy spirit, now and forevermore.

That was the way it was, in the beginning. Then, came the fall and corruption, not only of men, but of all the LORD’s good creation. “For, the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Thus, the Word of God, the Word by whom, and for whom, all things were created and are sustained, Jesus Christ, came to renew, restore, and to re-create His fallen and sin-broken creation. That work of re-creation was completed in Jesus’ suffering and death upon Good Friday’s cross. Therefore, today, Saturday, our Lord Jesus took His Sabbath rest from His work of re-creation, fulfilling even the commandment to observe the Sabbath Day and to keep it holy.

He descended into hell. Jesus descended into hell, not to suffer or to be punished, for He’d already taken all that upon Himself and died for you, and for me, and for all of God’s fallen creation – He drank the cup of the LORD’s wrath against sin to its most bitter dregs, so that it was truly finished, sated, and gone – but Jesus descended into hell to proclaim His victory over sin, and death, and Satan. Jesus’ descent into hell is the proclamation of victory in hell, just as [Jesus’] Resurrection is the declaration of that victory on earth.

And, truly that is what we are commemorating and celebrating tonight on this Eve of the Resurrection of Our Lord. Our Lord, by whom, and for whom, all things were made, has died to make all things new once again. His work is finished, and nothing more need be done. You and all creation are reconciled and justified before the LORD in Jesus Christ. And then He rested on the Sabbath Day, on Saturday, in the tomb. He rested, He slept, so that we might know and believe that death is something from which may expect to awaken, as from sleep. Jesus proclaimed His victory over death and Satan to the host of hell so that there would be no mistaking the fact. Satan knows that He is defeated. Jesus is the living proof of that!

Once again, Jesus, the Word of God, calls something out of nothing, even life out of death. Christ has ferried you across death’s raging flood, leaving your sins buried in a watery grave. Death is now but a valley to you, having a wall to the left and to the right, but a safe, dry passageway of life through its midst. And, though your bones lie dry in their graves, at Jesus’ call on the Last Day, your bones will rise, and flesh and sinews will be restored upon them, and you shall live, for His life and Spirit are your life and breath even now, a life and breath that cannot die or be extinguished. For, He has called to you, and you have listened. And He has replaced your heart of stone with a heart of flesh, a broken and contrite heart that He adores and does not despise. And, He has delivered you from hell’s fiery furnace, having taken the LORD’s wrath against your sin which fueled it completely upon Himself, dying your death that you may have His life.

This is the LORD’s work, and it is glorious in our eyes! And, this is what you have been baptized into. You have been baptized into Jesus’ death and resurrection. You have been baptized into His life and victory over sin, death, and hell. You have been baptized into Sonship with the Father, an everlasting inheritance, and reign and rule with Jesus in His kingdom that will never end. This is the LORD’s work, and it is glorious in our eyes! The stone that would keep you in your graves has been rolled away. Do not be afraid! He is risen! He is not here! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! This is the LORD’s work, and it is glorious in our eyes!

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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