In the 2009 Edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, there are many words that you wouldn’t find in your grandmother's dictionary. Words like ringtone, unibrow, and aquascape are some of the new words found in more recently published dictionaries.
What if someone were to compile an Easter Dictionary? In such a dictionary we’d certainly find words like resurrection, victory, and joy. But what words wouldn't we find? What words would never be included in the Easter Dictionary? Today we find out.
Matthew 28:5-6 (NIV)
“5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”
Fear is defined as "the distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain".
When the women approached Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning, sadness must have been their primary emotion. But no doubt fear was present as well.
For years Jesus had been their teacher, healer and friend. They had believe He was the Messiah sent from God. But then He had died a gruesome and shameful death on a Cross.
With Jesus dead, how could these women live on. How would they face a world of impending danger, evil and pain?
And when death finally came to take them, how could they face the All-powerful God who demands that sinners be just as sinless as He is?
When the women finally reached the tomb and looked inside, their fear only increased! Here was a gleaming, supernatural being, a messenger of God – an angel!
But "fear" is not in the Easter Dictionary, as the angel made clear: "Do not be afraid… he has risen."
As fragile human creatures, we are very familiar with fear. But Jesus’ Easter victory over death erases that word from our hearts.
But to understand why this is so, we have to understand what the resurrection signifies.
Outwardly it had looked like Jesus had been defeated by sin, death and the Devil when He died on the cross. But when He rose from the dead three days later, the truth of the matter was revealed. Jesus had lived a sinless life. Jesus had suffered the punishment for the world’s sin.
The proof? Death had no power over Him. Sin’s reign was broken. Satan’s work undone. Because our sins are forgiven through Christ’s Cross, Satan now has no lasting power over us.
Why fear the economy, health problems, relationship issues? If Jesus has conquered death, are these other problems beyond his power to overcome?
Why fear death, or the judgment of God that will follow? If Jesus’ resurrection declares “sacrifice accepted”, “sin atoned for”, than God’s judgment on the faithful will be “not guilty”.
You won’t find the word “Fear” in the Easter Dictionary, for “He lives to silence all our fears”.
TLH 200 verses 1, 5
2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NIV)
“8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.”
One word now recognized by Merriam-Webster is the word "supersize." Just the mention of that word probably makes you hungry for an extra large order of fries.
But it's not just food that we find supersized in today's world. We also see sadness in supersized proportions. We call it despair.
We are living is what has been called the post-modern era. The teaching of Postmodernism says there are no fixed truths, only opinions. There is no solid meaning on which to build your life.
If there is no truth, than there is no God. If there is no God, than this life is all there is. These are the inevitable conclusions of Postmodernism.
No wonder the world around us is in despair.
Our culture tries to fill the hollow teaching of Postmodernism with big bank accounts, wild parties, and an obsession with entertainment. But these things can only satisfy us for a little while. When youth wears out and we stare our own death in the face, these distractions turn to dust and despair wraps it’s clammy fingers around our souls.
The ironic thing is, Postmodernism and its companion despair are not modern at all. Pilate expressed its basic premise when he asked Jesus: "What is truth?" Paul quoted the cynical poet who wrote: "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die."
But "Despair" is not in the Easter Dictionary, as Paul made clear to his fellow believers: "We are perplexed, but not in despair".
Hope is alive because Jesus rose from the dead. There is truth and meaning to life.
This world was once perfect. Pain and sadness entered it when sin did. But Jesus Christ lived, died and rose from the dead so that our sins might be forgiven. Jesus entered this sinful world so that we could one day enter a sinless world restored to perfection by the all-powerful God.
By faith in Jesus we are now free from the chains of sin and the blinders of Post-modern thought. We are free to live our lives for the God who died and rose for us. And our hope for an endless life tomorrow is guaranteed because death has no power over Jesus and His people.
How can we despair when our Savior lives?!
These fixed truths are more than enough to supersize our joy, now and forever!
TLH 192 verses 1-3
Romans 5:5 (NIV)
“5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
At the beginning of every NFL season, hope springs eternal. Every fan believes that just maybe their team might be the one this year. Maybe they’ll make the playoffs and win their division. Maybe they’ll actually make it to the big game.
But halfway through the season when the analysts are discussing whether your team just might be the first team ever to play a winless season, a certain feeling sets in…
In life we hope, we dream, we work hard to achieve a goal, but so often the result is - disappointment.
Much of our disappointment has to do with people. Political figures let us down. Even dependable friends and family disappoint us at times. We ourselves make promises and fail to keep them, disappointing those who count on us. We even make promises to ourselves and come up short.
In this sinful, imperfect world just about everything and everyone is a source of disappointment in one way or another. And disappointment is a bitter pill to swallow.
But “disappointment” is another word not found in the Easter Dictionary. The risen Savior will never let us down. For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20).
The living Christ will never fail you, dear child of God. You, the repentant faithful never have to wonder if he will forgive you, or answer your prayers, or make the curses in your life turn out to be blessings.
Best of all, you won't be disappointed when you stand before your Maker on Judgment Day,. Easter says sin, death, and hell have been conquered by God's Son – in whom you trust.
That means there is no doubt whatsoever that you will be welcomed into that inheritance prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
That means that you will be raised up and glorified and will live with God and His people forever. Our hope in Christ is a guaranteed hope -- a hope that will in no way disappoint.
But what about all the disappointments of this life? When we keep the focus on Jesus, whatever disappointments we may experience can't get us down too far. The one who can never disappoint us will help us deal with those situations and those people who sometimes let us down.
Christ’s Easter resurrection is a sweetness that softens the bitterness of this world’s disappointments. Keep your thoughts on that day, until the last day arrives.
TLH 192 verses 4-6
1 Corinthians 15:17 (NIV)
“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.”
Ever do a job that was absolutely pointless? A task that served no meaningful purpose whatsoever? That's what one calls "an effort in futility."
Something that is "Futile" is defined as something that is "serving no useful purpose, completely ineffective."
“Futile” is another word not found in the Easter Dictionary.
Paul says that “futile” is exactly what our faith would be if Christ is not risen from the dead. If Jesus' body is moldering in a grave, then it's pointless to look to Him for help. Only fools would place their confidence in someone who is dead!
If Easter didn't happen, then following Christ is an effort in futility. Where could a corpse ever lead us?
If Jesus didn't rise, there is no resurrection, no life eternal, for anyone. Paul asserts that we have no forgiveness of sins if Christ is not risen. Jesus' death was useless if He did not rise from the grave.
All in all, if Jesus did not rise bodily on Easter Sunday, then being a Christian is a complete waste of time.
Three verse later, Paul writes,
"But now Christ is risen from the dead!" (1 Corinthians 15:20 NKJV).
Since Christ is indeed risen, our faith is truly most meaningful. Our Christian faith tells us that we have a living Lord who forgives us, loves us, and helps us in every way. Our Christian faith tells us that life has a definite purpose: serving the One Who lived, died and rose for us all! Our Christian faith tells us that life has a guaranteed destination: heaven with God forever.
So go ahead, erase that word futile from your heart and from your life! The risen Jesus has rescued us from sin, death, and hell!
Listen to 1 Corinthians 15:58:
"So my dear brothers and sisters, stand strong. Do not let anything move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your work in the Lord is never wasted" (1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV).
Luke 24:29 (NIV)
"29But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them."
One of our Pastors writes, “For eleven years of my life I lived within the happy confines of Immanuel Lutheran High School and College. I was never alone. There was always a friend nearby to make me laugh, to cheer me up, and to share my faith.
But then came the day when the life I loved so well came to an abrupt end. With all my worldly possessions stuffed into a U-Haul trailer, I made the long drive in my banged up '76 Cordoba to Washington, DC to begin my work as a CLC pastor. How would I survive so far away from family and friends? I had never felt so lonely in all my life.”
The disciples on the road to Emmaus felt an awful loneliness too. How could they carry on without their dear friend Jesus? Who else could ever understand them, care for them, or help them as much as He did?
But, as they would soon find out, how foolish and unnecessary were those feelings of isolation. For soon Jesus would come to them. He would stay with them. He would bring them His Word, which promises that nothing could ever separate them from His love.
The word, “Alone” isn’t in the Easter dictionary.
Easter tells us that we are never alone. We have a living Savior who has promised to be with us always. In faith we call to Him, "Stay with us." In love He has promised that He will "never leave us or forsake us."
It was Jesus who experienced true loneliness on the cross. Left alone with our sins, His Father deserted Him so that we could be united to God forever through the forgiveness of sins.
In Word and Sacrament our risen Lord comes to our lonely, guilty hearts with His grace, mercy, and peace. Every day He walks with us, listens to our problems, guides and directs even the smallest details of our lives.
At times we may feel very lonely. But take heart! The word "alone" is not in the Easter dictionary either. Jesus is with us!
And though time, space, and death may separate us from many Christian loved ones and friends, Jesus will take care of that loneliness too. One day we'll all be together with Him in endless joy! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
TLH 206 verses 1-2
Luke 24:33 (NIV)
“They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together,”
Remember how Jesus finally revealed Himself to the disciples travelling to Emmaus? They had invited this traveler who had showed up to walk with them - to dinner. It was the least they could do! He had opened up their eyes to see all that the Scriptures said about the Savior. He had shown them that all the events that had happened to Jesus weren’t unexpected events but things that HAD to happen according to Scripture.
They sat down to eat. And Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it the bread to share it with them. At that point He opened their eyes and let them recognize who He was. And then He vanished from their sight.
And what happened next?
The two disciples ran back to Jerusalem to be with the other disciples. They just couldn't keep the joy to themselves. They just had to join the others and celebrate Jesus' victory over sin, death, and hell!
Jesus does not want us to remain isolated from one another. He wants us to stick together. Jesus knows how much believers need each other.
The word "disconnected" isn't in the Easter dictionary.
The Last Day is coming! What a great day that will be! But in the meantime, Satan will be relentless in His attacks upon God's children. That's one reason God has set you into a family of believers, so that you will remain and grow stronger in faith. But, also so that others may remain because of you, and grow stronger because of you.
He has placed you into a very special family, which, by His grace, believes that every doctrine of Scripture is precious. Cherish the family to which you belong.
Gather with your spiritual family as often as possible. Join them in using Word and Sacrament. Celebrate God's redeeming love with them at every opportunity. Work with them in spreading the Gospel to your community, and to the world at large. Stay connected!
As the Bible says,
"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25 NKJV).
Will we have squabbles and disagreements? What family doesn’t. But we will cover over our family’s faults with love. We will paint their sins with His blood. We will LIVE the message of the resurrection – He lives! And so do we.
In forgiveness given.
TLH 208 verses 8-10