Sermon for The Resurrection of Our Lord, 2021

Text: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

What a sad walk Mary, Mary, and Salome had as they approached the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body with spices. Jesus was dead (or so they thought). They had followed him and listened to him teach. They thought that he was to be their Messiah, the one who would redeem them and all Israel. They were, of course, quite wrong. Jesus had risen form the dead. His body was nowhere to be found. The angel tells them that he’s risen and they still don’t really believe it. Trembling and astonishment sized them and Mark writes that “they said nothing to anyone” even though the angel had just told them to go and tell Jesus’ disciples and Peter.

Why don’t they believe? Didn’t they hear Jesus when he predicted that this is exactly what would happen to him. Had not Jesus told them that he would suffer many things, be crucified, die, and, after three days, rise again? They heard those words, no doubt, but they didn’t believe them. Their minds were clouded with sin and unbelief.

St. Paul writes that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. My wife does all of the bread making at our house (as many of you probably know), but even I know that it’s true that a little bit of leaven – that is, yeast – goes a long way. Laura tells me that a small 4oz jar of yeast will last her about a year under normal circumstances. St. Paul’s use of leaven and bread in 1 Corinthians 5 is, of course, a metaphor, though. Leaven is used as a metaphor for sin. Even the smallest sin ruins everything. It infects everything. And it happens fast.

Look no further than the fall into sin from Genesis 3 for evidence of this. One sin ruins everything. It’s difficult for us to even imagine a world with no sin in it. Adam and Eve’s sin infected every bit of God’s creation. It didn’t just destroy the relationship between God and man, it destroyed the relationship between people. It destroyed the relationship between animals. It destroyed the relationship between people and animals. Everything that ails this fallen creation can be traced back to that moment. Death came into the world through the sin of Adam and Eve. Can you imagine a world without death? That’s what the creation was before the Fall. Nothing dies until God makes garments of animal skins to cover the shame of Adam and Eve.

Of course, the fact that sin is traced back to that moment in the Garden of Eden doesn’t get us off the hook. It’s not like we can just point the finger at Adam and Eve and blame everything on them. Each and every one of us bears the guilt of our own sin. It would be one thing if we were able to live perfect, God-fearing lives, but we can’t. The reason we can’t is that we’re infected with sin. The way that infections work is that they spread. They spread through the whole body. Sin permeates us and makes us altogether evil. Just like a little leaven leaven leavens the whole lump, a little sin desecrates the entire being.

The worst part about this problem, though, is that it’s impossible to solve. Once the leaven gets into the lump, you can’t take it out. It’s there no matter what you try. We can’t solve our sinful condition. We can try all we want to balance out the bad with the good, but the bad will always be there, hanging on. There is no way to remove it. The stain of sin can’t be taken out with hard work and determination.

Instead, it has to be removed from the outside. Someone else has to take care of that for us. There is only one who is qualified for the job. The shortcoming of all of the sacrifices that were made for sin in the Old Testament was that they had to be repeated. Yes, they were given by God to bring about forgiveness, but they were always incomplete. The priest making the sacrifice even had to make a sacrifice first to cover their own sin. All of this, though, was pointing the people of God forward to Jesus.

The picture on the cover our bulletin today illustrates well what Jesus does for us. Notice that he’s grabbing the arm of a man to his right. That man is Adam. Notice that Jesus is grabbing him by the wrist, not by the hand. That is, Adam is not working here. Jesus is doing it all. He is grabbing Adam by the arm and dragging him up from death. Eve waits on the other side for Jesus to do the same for her. This is how it is for us. Sin has ruined us. It has left us for dead. There is nothing that we can do to remedy the situation. We can’t grab onto something in the hopes that it will help us. But Jesus destroys death in his death and he comes down to us and raises us up, grabbing hold of us. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. There is no more payment needed for our sins. All has been done. Death is defeated. We could not do anything to rescue ourselves, but Jesus has done it all. Now he plunders the devils goods, us included.

“So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

The Kingdom of God comes to us today in the fruits of the cross and empty grave. Through the unleavened bread that his body and the wine that is his blood, Jesus today gives us the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. Let us celebrate the festival by receiving these gifts in faith and confessing with our mouths that Jesus is risen from the dead.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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