~by Pastor Mike Middaugh
The following is an excerpt taken from an Easter Sermon preached at Calvary by Frederick W. Kemper, Calvary’s Pastor from 1958 – 1979. This sermon, along with others from the Easter Cycle can be found in his book “The Lamb.” (Concordia Publishing House, 1983.) All punctuation as found in the original.
Some fundamental questions are essential to making Scripture yield its depths. They are to be addressed to any event, any statement, recorded by the Spirit for our learning. In all meditation on the passion and resurrection of our Lord, these are necessary. What does all this mean to/for God the Father? What does this mean to God the Son? The third is vital – what does this mean to me? Here is an angel messenger with the proclamation “Jesus is risen even as He said.” Let’s answer the questions.
The Resurrection is God’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes. God, who sent Jesus into the world, who gave Him up to die, who abandoned Him to hell that our sins and the sin of the world might be expiated, God – raised Him from the dead. God would not let His holy One see corruption. Jesus, the Christ, had been faithful to the trust, faithful to the plan, faithful even unto death, the death of the cross. God reached into the tomb and touched His lifeless body. God gave him life. God gave him glory.
There is no question about it, God accepted the suffering and death of His only begotten Son. God heard the cry from the cross, addressed to Him alone, yet heard clearly by all at the cross: “It is finished!” The plan conceived in the councils of the Trinity before the foundations of the world were laid had been brought to completion. Justice had been served. Love had triumphed. God accepted the atoning work of Christ.
Vivit! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Vivit! Christ our Passover lives. God raised Him from the dead, and we too shall live.
And what of Jesus, the Christ. We could, of course, speak of His appearances – to Mary, to the Emmaus disciples, to the Twelve. They are part and parcel of the Resurrection stories. We could speak of His ascension into glory, but there is a day reserved for that 40 days hence. Rather however, let us speak of the Lamb as St. John sees Him in the vision called Revelation. The text I have chose this morning is that exciting portion of the vision when the Lamb opens the book of the seven seals. No one in all of Glory has been able to open it. The Lamb steps forward and takes the book. The 4 living creatures and the 24 elders compose and sing a new song.
Worthy art Thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for Thou wast slain and by Thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth. (Rev. 5:9-10 RSV)
The whole company of heaven – the angels hovering about the throne, the myriads of angels, the whole company of the patriarchs, sing the chorus – in praise of the Lamb. The sound of it must have been exceedingly beautiful, the power of it enough to shake the walls of glory, the glory of it beyond all imagination.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! (V. 12)
And still the song is not finished. The chorus is picked up by everything on earth, under the earth, and in the sea. The glorious sound filled all creation as it praised and honored the Lamb.
Blessing and honor and glory and power be given to Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for timeless ages! (V. 13)
When at last the great chorus came to an end, an “Amen” was added quietly, I should think, melodic certainly, by the four living creatures. And the elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.
The Lamb of God, sacrificed on Calvary for the sin of the world, had accomplished the plan of God for man’s redemption. He paid for the sins of mankind at God’s price. “Wherefore God has highly exalted Him!” Wherefore the saints and angels in glory sin His everlasting praises. Wherefore he is appointed King of kings and Lord of lords.
And what of us, we who are the redeemed? We are made a kingdom of priests for our God. We reign as kings upon the earth. That promise is not new. It was part of the old covenant at Mount Sinai when God came for His people Israel. “You shall be to me a kingdom or priests” (Ex. 19:5-6). In the new covenant St. Peter could write of the followers of Jesus, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people” (1 Peter 2:9). John hears the mighty truth again in our Revelation text: You, My people, are a kingdom of priests. Priests with the privilege of prayer! Priests who present your bodies a living sacrifice to God! Priests who have the privilege of the Throne Room. Priests who are at the disposal of the King of kings. And you are kings upon the earth – in Christ. Rulers of your destiny – in Christ. Subject to no one – save Christ.
Vivit, He lives! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Vivit, He lives! The whole Christian church on earth, the whole community of saints, the whole kingdom of God, is predicated of that Easter fact. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have predicated our lives and our futures, our eternity, on that fact. And one day, or should I say, one eternity, by the sheer grace of God and by the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Anointed of God, we will hear the angel chorus. We will know the tune when we arrive in glory. We will join in the singing, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, forever.”