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Fear not!

Easter Sunday, 31.3.2024 in St. Gratia's Church (LGJ)

198v1-3; 190v2-3; 202; 208 //
199v1-3; 430; 199v4-5

Matthew 28:1-8
Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. "Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."

And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.

When someone says, "Fear not." "Don't be afraid!" 'Don't worry!' is well meant, and it may reassure us at first. But what good are words if the one who says it does not know what we are worried about, afraid of and fear? And if we tell it, it can happen that suddenly there are two of us who fear and are worried and afraid together. That is a small consolation. For fellowship relieves in fear. But community itself does not overcome fear.

Therefore, it is a gift that the gospel does not just say "Fear not!" but shows us that God knows our fear, frees us from it, and gives us a future. The Angel said: 1) I know that you are searching for Jesus, the crucified one. 2) He's not here; He has risen as He has said. Come and see the place where he lay. And hurry up and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead. 3) And behold, he is going ahead for you to Galilee. There you shall see him. Now I have told you."

The gospel teaches that God knows what we fear. The gospel proclaims what God has done for us so that we should not fear. And the Gospel proclaims what good will happen to us in the future.

Such is the Christian Gospel. It proclaims "Fear not!" so that we are comforted and helped.


First: The angel of the Lord knows what they and we fear.

" Do not fear, I know you are searching for Jesus, the crucified one..." The crusified and battered body had now lain in the burial pit since Friday afternoon. And they were going to anoint this broken body with fragrant ointments.

It is a joy to anoint a sick person who can feel and get better. But anointing a corpse is a terrible task. For the next few hours, they would stand bent over the man they had followed for 3 years and gotten everything from. And they would put him back in the grave. Without hope. Without a future. Without their beloved Lord. Everything they had built up with him had burst. - All this the angel knows. "Your are searching for the crucified one".

This is also how God knows about our dashed hopes. God tells us, and it is a powerful comfort because He knows everything about us from birth to death. He knows about our fears. He knows about our joy. He knows of our hopes , also the hopes that broke. He knows about our sins. He knows how to stand bent over a work that does not give us hope, but just fills us with fear and unease. What will the future be like when this and that has happened in my life? He knows about our illnesses and mental and bodily weaknesses. Jesus, our Lord, felt it on his own body and soul. He who knows all things and who loves us wakes us up every morning to a new day.

Jesus says in one place: "Your Father knows what you need before you pray." Therefore, boldly ask for His help. Even when we are on the way to something that does not make sense, but which we nevertheless have to do, just as the women at the tomb had to.

That is why our Christian faith is strong in all kinds of need, in suffering, in sin, in death. For him we believe in, know s something, yes, he know everything. He placed himself in our life and death. And he has planned our salvation.

The second: The angel of the Lord tells the good that has happened

"He's not here; He has risen, just as he said." When the angel tells them not to fear, it is because the battered corpse is no longer there. His body is not there. He has risen. He who was crucified and died and was buried, He has risen early in the morning. The earthquake, the stone, soldiers lying there trembling and unable to do anything, they all witness that He has risen.

The terrible fear of women is transformed into a fear of God and joy. Their Master and Lord lives. He is still your Master. He is your Savior. He has overcome the power of death. In one moment, they were filled with hope. And later they understood what it meant to them: that He had borne the transgression of His people and the sins of the world.

Anything that can deprive a sinner of hope and discourage us, He took it upon Himself. Took it to the cross. Took it to death. The fear of death that all people know of, that fear is now being turned into hope. Death is overcome. And starting with Jesus' resurrection from the dead­, his disciples began to call death a sleep: asleep in Christ. For Christ has overcome death. "As he has said."

"Come and see the place where he lay." The angel is caring. This is not an empty claim. They really saw the place where he lay. But he wasn't there anymore. The resurrection took place in our world with hopelessness. He really rose from death. From this tomb outside Jerusalem. In our world. Then death is overcome.

And the great thing for us is that it also happened to us at a certain time and place in our lives: in our baptism. We were buried with Jesus until death. And we rose in the bath of baptism to live always with Him (Romans 6:3-4). Baptism is our place, our grave, and our hope for salvation. God has done it for us.

"And hurry up and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead." The women were eyewitnesses. And the apostles became eyewitnesses. And it has reached us: "Fear not!"

The third: The angel of the Lord tells them what good will happen in the future.

" And behold, he is going ahead for you to Galilee. There you shall see him. Now I've told you." Instead of fear, they get a future and fellowship in Christ's church.

Twice in the Easter Gospel, the angel says "See!" "Behold!" Don't look inward into your own dark thoughts and fear. Don't look at yourself and your own possibilities and missing strength. But look at what He has done for you and prepared for you in His church in future and eternally. He is going ahead for you to Galilee. Instead of being tied to a grave and to mourning, they were sent off.

There in Galilee, Jesus met the disciples on a mountain. Matthew tells us in verse 16-20 in our Easter chapter. And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted. The apostles were a group of disciples who were far from strong in faith. But they gathered where Jesus had told them to gather. And there Jesus told them exactly what they needed: that He, their Lord, had been given all power in heaven and on earth.

Therefore, they knew that the future did not depend on whether they felt weak or strong. Our future also does not depend upon our strength. Our future as a church and as Christians depends on Him who is with us, the crucified Jesus who is risen. It gives us hope no matter what. He is with us.

To them, on the Mount of Galilee, Jesus gave the Christian baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and and the Christian faith to be taught in the Christian church. These were the two powerful means by which they could make disciples of all nations. And they used them. The mission of Christ began. For Jesus went along. He was their resurrected Lord. Therefore, they went through fire and water with him. Also through death.

It came to our rescue. There were Christians who did it for us: baptized us and trained us. This is also our task today and in the time to come: to learn what Jesus taught the disciples and to learn it further.

And then comes the last: "Behold!" And it goes like this: "Behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world." Amen.

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