Bigger Than Our Whole World (Mark 16)
- Order of Service: Divine Service 3
- Hymns: LSB #457, 931, 488, 461, 466, 474, 480, 490
And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you." (Mark 16:5-7)
Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)
In the extreme west of Narnia stood a stable. At this stable, the greatest apostasy ever to happen in Narnia occurred. The meniacal Shift the Ape manipulated Puzzle the Donkey into impersonating Aslan the Lion. Through this impersonation, many came to believe that Aslan the Lion and the beastly Tash of the Calormenes were one and the same god. This evolved into a belief in Tashlan. Eventually, it was just Tash. Aslan was ignored completely. In the last days of Narnia, there was almost complete and total apostasy among the Men and the Beasts. Even those who had been ardent and faithful followers of Aslan found their way into Shift's trap.
How different is that from today? Many people try to proclaim a belief that "all roads lead to Heaven." That Jesus and Allah are the same God. Even now, there are many people and even governments who want to go back to a belief in only one God. Unfortunately, they tend to promote an allegiance to Allah instead of the one true God. We now live in a time where Christians who seek to live out their faith in the Gospel under the First Amendment are viewed and persecuted as terrorists. The time of the cohesion of many faiths is winding down. Soon, just one faith will prevail. Unfortunately, like in Narnia, it won't be the Christian faith.
So how are we, as faithful Christians, as Lutherans in particular, supposed to react to this blatant apostasy against God? First of all, we need to be proactive instead of reactive. Reaction comes because we've already given up or allowed something that we shouldn't have. Being proactive begins with education on what you believe, teach and confess. If your foundation of faith is secure, you won't easily fall into the traps the devil lays out for you. Therefore, you study. Much like I told the confirmands last week. You "read, mark, learn and inwardly digest" God's Word so that your foundation is strong.
A strong Christian foundation realizes and believes that the Christian faith is bigger than anything else. There is no bigger or greater power, philosophy or knowledge than what can be found in the Holy Scriptures. There is no other religion that truly transcends the whole world in its scope and substance. Truly the Christian faith is BIGGER THAN OUR WHOLE WORLD.
Lucy illustrates this belief with her wonderful statement: "In our world, too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world." She's referring to the stable in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. However, the caves where shepherds kept their sheep weren't much different than the tombs where they buried people. Tombs just had a stone rolled in front of it. In the Bethlehem stable, the Creator of the universe was laid in a manger. In the garden tomb near Calvary, the dead Creator's body was laid to rest. In both instances, something bigger than the whole world was contained in that small place. Jesus Christ. The Son of God. The promised Savior.
As we look at the empty tomb this morning, we see that it is truly an empty shell. Much like the "queerest and most ridiculous ... rough wooden door" in the middle of the meadow in Aslan's country. Tirian had come through the door five minutes earlier, but it looked like "a door leading from nowhere to nowhere." It was the entrance to Aslan's country, but it only looked like a door standing in the middle of nowhere.
That is how the grave looks to those who have died with Christ. On the one side, it looks foreboding and frightful. On the other, it looks like a door in the middle of nowhere. The entrance into life immortal. If one desired to look through it, they could see the pain and misery. But if you are standing in Heaven, why would you want to look? With all the glorious light surrounding you, what would make you want to see the darkness?
But Lord Digory makes a great observation: "Its inside is bigger than its outside." The stable in the Lantern Waste was twelve feet long by six feet wide, but its door was the gate to eternity.
Jesus' tomb makes your grave only a doorway. When the women came to His tomb with their spices, they found something bigger than the whole world inside. The resurrection of the dead. They brought spices to anoint Jesus' dead body. But there was no body to anoint. They only saw the glory of the angel dressed in white. The angel with a message that would change their lives forever. "He has risen; He is not here."
These women had either heard or seen Jesus raise people from the dead. But who would have the power to raise Him from the dead? The Father raised Jesus from the dead. The angel was God's messenger to make "His light to shine upon us." The light of the resurrection. The light to show that death is only a door with no supporting structure. God has swallowed up death forever. It has no more power. It can strike no more terror into your life. "Hell's fiercest weapon" has been destroyed.
The angel charged the women to tell the disciples about Jesus' resurrection. That He would appear to them in Galilee. There He met with them. Relieved their sorrows. Calmed their troubled hearts. Proclaimed His victory and salvation.
But the vision at the tomb left the women trembling and afraid. They didn't know what to do. They knew what they were told to do, but were they able to physically do it? They fled from the tomb out of fear. But this fear is short-lived. St. Paul tells of the many appearances Jesus made to His disciples after His resurrection. Even to St. Paul on the road to Damascus. St. Paul the least of the Apostles.
On the Day of Resurrection, it will be very much like our scene from The Last Battle. Fear will be completely overcome. Death will be completely conquered. Every tear will be wiped away. Every reproach will be gone. The entire world will break forth in praise and magnification.
Today. This Easter day. You receive a glimpse of that eternal Day. Easter brings your heart joy and gladness. "Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation." You can go from this place with joy because "I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD." The deeds that began in the small Bethlehem stable. The deeds that carry us into the tomb near Calvary. The deeds that continue to give us hope and peace for the days ahead. "I know that my Redeemer lives; what comfort this sweet sentence gives!" He lives and He gives you life. Life that is a shadow of the glory to come when we walk through the door of the grave into the "City of God" where it will be "Easter forever."
Through His resurrection "fair Eden's door" stands open. The Paradise promised to the repentant thief on the cross is yours. He hasn't invited us to walk through that door yet. He has gone before you to prepare your mansion. He has left you here so that you might sing His praise with the endless joy of the resurrection.
Your life is not some great April Fools' joke. I would be remiss if I didn't point out the irony of Easter falling on April Fools' Day. But the resurrection is no joke. Jesus is really alive! He is not dead! His resurrection proves He is BIGGER THAN OUR WHOLE WORLD.
The women fled from the tomb with fear and trembling. We leave this place with assurance and joy. "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!) Amen.