Christ is Risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Saint Mark, one of our Lord’s disciples—not one of the Twelve, but a close follower of Jesus, whom after the resurrection was a close associate of Saints Paul and Peter—was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was there at our Lord’s betrayal. He saw the whole thing—Judas’ kiss of betrayal, Peter’s sword to ear action—but he was a scaredy cat. And he is the only writer of a Gospel who records that when the guards seized Jesus that a “young man” wearing only a linen robe was also seized. But they grabbed his robe, and he ran away naked.
But did you notice how St. Mark chose to describe that new dawn the day of the resurrection? He says there was a “young man” in the tomb. Not a naked young man. A fully clothed young man, sitting on the right side, in a long radiant white robe. Now most assuredly this was a holy angel of God (Luke 24:4) sent to proclaim good news that, “Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia! He is not here, see where they laid Him.” (Mark 16:6)
But St. Mark describes him as a “young man.” A clothed young man. In a radiant white garment called a stole (in Greek). A garment of authority. A garment that throughout the Bible means God: has clothed you (Revelation 6:11; 7:9; Galatians 3:27); has restored you to honoured status (Luke 15:11-24, especially vs. 22); has washed your sins away and covered over your shame (Revelation 7:14); and granted you eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:53-55).
This clothed young man has the Word of Life in his mouth. This is an image of St. Mark’s redemption in Christ Jesus.
For Saint Mark’s fear is not unique. Adam ran from God in fear of God’s judgment. Mark ran from the God-man in fear of the men’s judgement. Saint Peter followed but denied knowing Jesus three times out of the same fear. You and I are afraid of both God and man and run—from living as we ought as Christians, from saying what we ought as Christians, from praying what we should pray, and even from who we are, “for the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). As Christians we desire to do all that God would have us do. And as Christians we strive to do it. But our hope rests not in our doing, but in Christ’s doing. For He has done all things well and Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
And that changes everything. If Christ were not risen it would mean that you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). For then Christ did not truly finish paying for sin on the cross (John 19:30). Some sin somewhere must remain unpaid for. A debt still outstanding. And if anyone’s debt is not paid in full, no one can know with full assurance that their debt is paid in full. But He rose in victory over sin. Free of sin. Death lay defeated. He is full of life. Sin can not keep Him down for it is gone. The world is changed.
We know of course that the fear did not last long, that Jesus appeared shortly to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18). And just as sin came into world through first woman, so the good news that Christ is risen--He is risen indeed. Alleluia!—came into world through a woman. And that is St. Mark’s point. For though our flesh is weak His Spirit is able. For Christ appeared to her. He strengthening her new nature of faith in Him—what the Bible refers to as “the spirit” or “spiritual nature”, the new you, the resurrected you.
This is the “you” given in Holy Baptism where your old you—the sinful you, the fleshly you—is killed and the new you raised up in its place. The new you who will die no more. A you who is eternal who has been granted everlasting life. A you clothed in the robes of Christ’s righteousness given you in Holy Baptism (Galatians 3:27). A you now seated at the right hand of the Father (Mark 16:5; Ephesians 2:6).
Nonetheless, the old you is passing away (1 John 2:17; 15-17). The new you is raised up in Christ. And on the Last Day at the last trumpet when Christ comes again the new you is all of you that will remain (1 Corinthians 15:52). Your dying “flesh” will die its last death. The new you, the imperishable you, the spirit you, the real you (Romans 7:17-20) will be all that’s left. And you will finally rest in peace. Your warfare against your flesh will be over. For death has been swallowed up in victory. Sin is gone. The Law has no power to condemn you in Christ Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:53-57)
And in your body, your renewed body, your fully spiritual flesh, free from sin and its decay, you will stand upon the earth in your Redeemer’s presence and your own eyes will see your Him (Job 19:25-27) who once was dead, but now lives.
For Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia! It happened the world is changed. You are changed.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON