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Faith, Hope, and Joy in the Promise of Resurrection

April 19, 2017 No Comment
President Thomas Prachar

President Thomas Prachar

by Thomas Prachar

With the celebration of another Easter morning, we boldly confess in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe…in the resurrection of the body.” In the Nicene Creed we confess: “And the third day He [Jesus] rose again according to the Scriptures…and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”

Martin Luther writes: “It is difficult to believe that man, who dies and perishes in so many different ways, is to live again; that his members, so widely scattered, reduced to dust and ashes in fire, water, and soil, are to be gathered again; that his soul is again to live in the same body in which it lived before; and that he is to have the same eyes, ears, hands, and feet, except that the body, together with its members, is to have a different manner of existence. This, I say, is difficult to believe. If you want to look at this with reason, the article of the resurrection of the dead seems to be either nothing at all or at least entirely uncertain.”

As impossible and unreasonable as the concept of resurrection may seem, yet it is our faith that holds on to this promise of God concerning Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is the assurance that all who put their trust in Him will also experience resurrection. The apostle Paul asks the question and then gives his own answer: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:17, 20). And then Paul writes such comforting words, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

Jesus’ resurrection is the assurance that all who put their trust in Him will also experience resurrection.

Luther wrote of this promise in his Easter hymn, “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands” (LSB 458):

Christ Jesus, God’s own Son, came down
His people to deliver;
Destroying sin, He took the crown
From death’s pale brow forever:
Stripped of pow’r, no more it reigns;
An empty form alone remains;
Its sting is lost forever. Alleluia!

It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life,
The reign of death was ended.
Holy Scripture plainly saith
That death is swallowed up by death,
Its sting is lost forever. Alleluia!

In those blessed gifts from our risen Saviour—faith, hope and joy—we greet one another: “Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!”

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Rev. Thomas Prachar is President of the Central District of Lutheran Church–Canada.