John 20:1-18 (ESV)
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."  So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.  Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.  And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there,  and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;  for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.  Then the disciples went back to their homes.
 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb.  And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."  Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."  Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' "  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"—and that he had said these things to her.
Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;  for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.
1 Cor. 15:3-4 (ESV)
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
In accordance with the scriptures, he both died and was raised. He is Risen! Part of me has a hard time with Easter Sermons. I think anything I might say is rather trivial compared to the fact that He is Risen. Let it sink in today, let it sink in now.
He is Risen. The guy walked out of the tomb! Jesus this one who said destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days. The one who said I will give you no sign but the sign of Jonah, you know the guy who spent three days in the belly of a big fish, which finally vomited him up on dry land. That man did it! The one who told Mary and Martha “I am the resurrection and the life, everyone who believes in me, though he die, yet he shall live.” He just proved it. Yeah, proved it.
I don’t know, the other day I saw a Christoper Hitchen’s post saying something to the effect of extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. How much more extraordinary do you get then the guy once dead, coming to life three days later! I think that is rather extraordinary evidence for the guys claim to be God, the guy’s claim to be the resurrection and the life, the mans claim that if we believe in him we shall not perish, though we die yet shall we live.
As for the evidence of the resurrection, I mean barring making this sermon a long drawn out apologetic, you really have to wrestle with the empty tomb, ask yourself who took the body, wrestle with it the way the people of Jerusalem did during the fifty days leading up to Pentecost, when 3,000 heard the sermon of Peter, believed and were baptized. Do you think that sermon would have lasted 30 minutes if the tomb wasn’t empty? If the people in that town weren’t honestly struggling for explanation? If the Pharisees or the Romans would have been able to produce the body? Here he have an issue of habeas corpus, a term basically meaning produce the body, usually used in murder trials. Produce it. They never did. Why? Because He is Risen!
Not He was risen, as in the case of Lazarus and a few others, but He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed. To this day he is risen, to this day he lives. He lives and he is our Lord, because he lives, and only because he lives. I mean it. If Jesus were dead, I could care less about all the Sunday School moralism he might have taught, the stuff so many think is the heart of the Christian faith, the whole purpose of it. No, you can find that sort of thing in every other religion ever known to man, for sure Christian Morality has its place in Christianity, but only because He is Risen. He is Risen is the heart of Christianity. He is Risen is evidence of his claim, his claim to be God, his claim to forgive your sins, His claim to give you new life in Baptism in which you were buried with him into death so that just as he was risen by the Glory of the Father you too might walk in the newness of life. Yes because he is risen, you walk in the newness of life. That phrase, the newness of life, I can’t get it out of my head, I wake to it every morning, when I think on it, it causes me to rejoice. I tell you it lifts me out of depressions you might have a hard time fathoming. He gives us the newness of life, your life, my life, perpetually new because we were baptized into Christ. Perpetually new. Perpetually fresh and clean, new like the sun breaking over the mountains after a stormy night. The newness of life. You know what makes it new? You know what gives it newness? This, that He is Risen. Your Lord and Savior Risen! The man who forgives you your sins. That’s right, Jesus, God and Man, the one who says “I forgive you” He is risen, and you walk in his love, and because of his love, you walk in the love of the Father. Every morning new, Every afternoon new, every evening new, because you walk in the newness of life, you walk in his resurrection, you walk in his love, a soul forgiven by the One Who is Risen.
Now the Peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds, in the newness of life, in the love and forgiveness of the Jesus Christ, for He is Risen!