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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

04202014 Easter Sunday

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Risen Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Christ is arisen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

This morning we come to celebrate the mountaintop experience for Christians everywhere.  Jesus Christ is alive.  Jesus Christ Who was crucified on Good Friday, laid in the tomb, left for dead by His disciples and followers, has risen from the dead!!  Jesus Christ has burst the three day prison!  Jesus Christ overcame sin, death and the devil and offers us eternal life with Him in His Kingdom!

This is the essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that Jesus Christ offers us the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation!  We cannot merit it, but God out of His great love for us proclaims this for you and for me.  This is in essence the Office of the Keys.  If you were to read the insert for this morning, Martin Luther states plainly that this is the “authority which Christ has given to His church”.  Further “when the called ministers of Christ [meaning the pastor and by my office] deal with us by His [God’s] divine command, [to bind or loose sins, forgive or absolve sins]…this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.

What we need to hear and take away from our mountaintop experience this Easter morning is that Jesus Christ came and lived among His disciples.  Was baptized in the river Jordan, healed, fed and ministered to countless men, women and children.  Instituted the Lord’s Supper, suffered at the hands of His captors, was nailed to a cross on Golgotha, laid in a tomb and left for dead.  Then on the Third Day He rose from the dead.  With Jesus Christ rising, He conquered death and offers You and me eternal life.

But, there is something we have that God needs.  And that is why I need your help this morning.  I would like for all of you to take out the keys you have in your pockets.  Whether it is keys to the car, truck or SUV you drove here this morning, keys to the house you share with your family, or keys to the locks that protect all of your worldly possessions.  Please hold them and be ready to do something.

You see this morning our emphasis is upon the Office of the Keys given to the Church, to either bind or loose the sins of individuals.  This responsibility is given to the church.  But it is more intimate than that.  I would like for you to shake the keys for just a moment. [SHAKE].  The keys you hold in your hands are a perfect metaphor of the key you hold not to the stuff you have accumulated or inherited or been given.  The keys you have in your hands represent the key to your heart.
Today on Easter Sunday, we have the greatest opportunity to clearly and expressly give the keys to our collective hearts to Jesus Christ.  When we hear the Gospel message today we have the opportunity to give to Jesus Christ the Key that opens our hearts and everything we have and give it to Jesus Christ in true worship, discipleship and devotion.  For Jesus Christ offers us this morning the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven with our believing in the Resurrection from the Dead of Jesus Christ.  It is by our sharing the Key to our heart with Jesus Christ when we offer ourselves to Him that we have the greatest opportunity to receive not only grace upon grace, but the Greatest Gift ever Given to all of Mankind.  And that gift is the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

When the tomb was found to be empty early that Sunday morning, it was shown that nothing could bind Jesus Christ.  And with the keys to our hearts, when we offer them to Jesus Christ we afford ourselves the greatest opportunity to receive this gift of forgiveness that is directly offered to us from Jesus Christ for all of mankind including each and every one of us.

Tragically we personally know individuals who may never have heard the Gospel, or ever experienced this the mountaintop experience, because they are dealing with tragedy.  One such person I know of was Trevor, right before coming to hear and celebrate on Easter Sunday, he received a phone call from his best friends parents.  You see, Trevor’s best friend, Jack, whom he had grown up with from having the same baby sitter, the same little league coach, the same swim coach, the same teachers all through elementary school committed suicide Saturday, the night before Easter.  Trevor had talked with Jack Saturday afternoon and everything seemed fine, he was relaxed and just wanted to have some fun, they had played X-Box and rode around the neighborhood.  But this morning, his best friend was gone.

Jack with his taking his life was caught in the darkness of Holy Saturday, not being able to see the light of Easter morning.  Never being able to hear what Jesus Christ accomplished for all of mankind.  Jack had never been asked, nor given the opportunity to give the ‘key’ to his heart to Jesus Christ.  There were many times Trevor and Jack would have a sleep over, but never did Trevor ask Jack, nor his family to come to church to hear the Gospel and what Jesus Christ accomplished on Easter and what He offers to us today.

To this day, Trevor wears a brand, purposefully burned into the skin of his arm with Jack’s initials as a clear and concrete reminder of the missed opportunity of spreading the Gospel.  But today, and every day for us, when we hold the keys to our house, car, truck and our very possessions, may we be reminded this is the symbolic key that we can offer to Jesus Christ to set us free.  For with the key to our heart, Jesus Christ Who purposefully wears the scars of the holes from the nails in His hands and feet, and the puncture of the spear to His side and the prick of the thorns from the Crown of thorns on His brow, can open our hearts and offer us the Greatest Gift of life and salvation for all of mankind.  Especially including all of us saints willing to offer Jesus Christ the key to our heart by which He willingly offers us eternal life for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this Easter morning.  AMEN.

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