Sermon on 04/17/2022
This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here
Fritzchen ate all the Easter eggs by himself. The mother scolds: Haven’t you thought about your little sister at all? Fritzchen says: Sure, that’s why I was in such a hurry.
I don’t know what the tradition is at your house.
Whether you were already looking for Easter eggs this morning or will do so later after the service.
Whether you do this indoors or outdoors and how good your hiding places are.
A few years ago we found something at my parents’ house that we had hidden the year before and couldn’t find despite all our searching.
With real eggs, however, it is unfavorable if they are hidden too well, because then at some point it will start to stink.
Searching and finding, that reminds me that Jesus promised that if we search for him, that he would be found by us, and that’s what I wish for this service too, that the risen Christ will meet us.
The Easter egg hunt is a very old tradition. Early on, the egg was understood as a symbol of resurrection. A chick surrounded by a shell. A fairly limited horizon. But then at some point, when the chick has pecked against the shell often enough, you see a small crack, then suddenly the egg bursts open and the chick comes out.
Free at last.
What a world is opening up for this new chick.
And what a world opens up for us with what is happening at Easter.
I am reading the Easter story as we find it in Matthew:
1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.”
What good news this is that we want to celebrate today and make ourselves aware of in a whole new way.
Everything had looked different on Good Friday.
Jesus had been sentenced in a mock trial and crucified. He himself had predicted it and chosen the way to the cross, but his disciples had not understood it.
Early in the morning the women go to the grave. They want to anoint the body of Jesus with oils, as was customary at the time, because they were unable to do so immediately after the crucifixion because of the upcoming Sabbath.
In Markus’ report we are also told that the women are wondering who is actually supposed to clear away the stone for them.
Don’t know if they were hoping for the Roman guard to guard the tomb because there was a rumor that Jesus would rise from the dead and they didn’t want the body to be stolen.
Suddenly they experience an earthquake.
An angel is coming, a stark description.
The stone in front of the grave is rolled away.
The guards fall dead in shock.
The women are shocked.
No wonder how would you react ?
therefore the angel says to them: You need not be afraid.
I know you are looking for Jesus crucified.
He is not here; he is risen.
Words that change everything.
The whole history of the world changes with this Sunday.
Jesus is not dead – he conquered death and is alive.
The grave couldn’t hold him.
Just as the eggshell cannot hold the chick, only with the difference that Jesus was dead and was raised to life by God.
Freedom is a big theme in the Bible.
We read how Adam and Eve, who had all freedom from God, use it to choose against him.
The supposed freedom from God quickly turns out to be a lack of freedom, because sin, lovelessness, hatred, discord, war and death paved the way and the relationship with God was destroyed. But God wants our lives to flourish.
We see this in the example of his people, whom he leads out of slavery into the promised land in order to enable them to live in freedom.
It is God’s desire for us too to be free.
Jesus says: If the Son sets you free, you are really free. John 8:36
So no fake freedom, but real freedom.
Christ set us free for freedom! Gal. 5.1
God doesn’t want us to live a narrow, depressed, fun-free life, but life to the full.
But to get there, we have to get out of our prison, like the chick got out of the eggshell, like Jesus broke through the walls of the tomb.
Jesus says: I came to proclaim freedom to the captives. Luke 4:18
Jesus rose to free us from our prison.
Maybe you say now:
Wait a minute, I’m not in jail.
Chances are you’ve never been locked in a prison with walls around you. But you don’t have to be behind closed doors or in handcuffs to be in prison.
A relationship can be a prison. You can’t go with, you can’t go without, and somehow you feel trapped.
Debt is a prison, you can’t do anything and you can’t get out.
A property can be a prison,
an addiction, pornography or anything else.
expectations of others.
I have to do what my father expects of me or my mother, my husband, my wife, my boss or others.
A tradition can be a prison, that’s how you do it.
A painful memory
One big mistake, one wrong decision and you never got over it.
You can be stuck in a prison of guilt
in a prison of shame.
And we are all stuck in the prison of death.
Chances are you’ve never been locked in a prison with walls around you.
In the Easter story we read of an earthquake and an angel rolling the stone in front of the closed tomb.
And often something like an earthquake is needed in our lives, these can be crises that God gives us to get things rolling.
And then Jesus says: John 10:9 I am the door. Whoever comes to my flock through me will be saved. He can go in and out through this door and he will find lush green pastures.
It is the door to freedom, it is the door to salvation, it is the door to fulfillment, it is the door to God’s family and the door to the Father’s house in eternity.
In our lives we pass many doors.
We go through some, we shouldn’t have gone through others, we bypass some.
But Jesus is the most important door of your life that you can walk through, into freedom.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17
The more of God you have in your life, the freer your life becomes.
The more space God has in your life, the less trapped you will be.
And I’d like to look at some areas with you this morning where God wants you to experience that freedom and where Easter is the door opener for us to experience that freedom:
Freedom from a false image of God
Each of us has a certain image of God. I don’t know yours. But there are many images that I encounter again and again in conversations with people.
God, the unapproachable, who is far away
God who forgot me
God who doesn’t care about me.
God the angry one who casts me out when I do something wrong
God the watchdog, pointing finger punishing me
God the bore, with whom I’m not allowed to do anything, especially not have fun
God with a bushy beard, a dear old grandpa who never hurts a fly.
Or God, who is not omnipotent and therefore cannot help me either.
All these images understandably prevent me from wanting to have anything to do with such a god.
Before the sermon we sang the song “what a God”. That was basically an answer to all these pictures.
You died for us.
They nailed you to the cross, the true God,
who you give yourself
because you love us
what a god!
You overcame the power of death
will forever be honored in your splendor.
servant and hero,
Savior of the world,
wath a god!
When we look at Easter, when we look at what Jesus did, he is the door to freedom, then we see what God really is like. All the false images of God are like a prison that keeps us away from him.
We see in Jesus something of the fact that he cares about us, that God is not far away and that he has not rejected us either-
On the contrary, he loves us so much that Jesus gives his own life for you, that he allows himself to be tortured and crucified in order to eliminate your greatest problem of bondage, your guilt.
Jesus describes God as a father, if you have a problem with that then think of him as the perfect father that you may never have had and always wanted, but a father who invites us into his home, who looks to us waiting and whose door is always open.
And we see at Easter some of his power to conquer even death.
Jesus is the door to freedom from a false image of God
Jesus is also the door to
Freedom to have to fool others
We spend so much time, energy, effort and money trying to portray someone we are not.
To live by the expectations of others.
to get your recognition.
Perfectionism, not making mistakes so that others will like me.
Helping others, this can also be done out of a completely wrong motivation, not out of love but out of a longing for recognition and the only one who knows that is you.
It all looks good on the outside, but on the inside it’s a prison.
Proverbs 29:25: Whoever fears the judgment of men becomes dependent on them; whoever trusts the Lord is calm and secure.
It’s so exhausting to have masks on all the time and over time you lose yourself and you don’t even know who you really are anymore and you miss God’s plan for you and God’s place where he wants you to be.
Do you know what the most dangerous means on this path is: Social media Instagram, Facebook, Whatsapp status, etc.
Everyone posts their beautiful fake pictures but not real life. You think, what a harmonious family, what a beautiful wife, what a beautiful vacation spot, and you begin to compare yourself. But you only see a small part and not real life.
The difference is so great it creates stress and study after study shows that this social media is actually driving up suicide rates, depression and unhappiness.
What will get you out of this prison?
Jesus is the door.
Change your focus to what he thinks about you:
I live in freedom because I live by what you say.
When you align yourself with God, you live for the attention of 1 person, not 50.
And there’s only one who knows you through and through.
Who loves you unconditionally.
He knows what you’re made for.
Who gives you a new identity as the son and daughter of the living God when you accept what he did for you on the cross.
And we can learn to see ourselves as God sees us.
And how does God see you:
“The Lord your God your Father is in your midst; he is strong and will help you! He rejoices in you with all his heart. Because he loves you, he no longer talks about your guilt. Yes, he rejoices when he thinks of you!” ( Zephaniah 3:17)
God no longer talks about your guilt, because Jesus is also the door to
Freedom from guilt and shame
Guilt and shame are like a prison.
Perhaps the guilt you have burdened you with weighs you down.
There’s a heavy burden you’re carrying and you’re wondering how to deal with that guilt.
Or you’re ashamed of something you’ve done and wonder what people would think of you if they knew.
Maybe the burden isn’t that great, and yet each of us carries guilt and guilt weighs on our relationships.
There is deceit, lies and half-truths; envy, hate and lovelessness.
We talk a lot about the war in Ukraine these days and demand peace, but we can’t achieve that peace even in our closest relationships.
And the Bible makes it clear that all this guilt always has something to do with God, because God also created the neighbor to whom you are guilty.
So you are also guilty of God.
But our biggest problem is our pride, our rebellion against God and our distrust.
We think we know better than him and want our lives in our own hands.
Nor can we earn access to God simply by living a good life, any more than we can say in court that our good deeds can be offset against the bad deeds for which we are accused.
But we were just talking about this picture of God. And God sees our problem. He longs to give us the best life and friendship with Him for which He originally created us.
And so he comes because he loves us and takes our debt upon himself on the cross of Calvary.
And God in heaven said “YES” to that sacrifice. He gave this “yes” more than clearly in the raising of Jesus from the dead.
I don’t want my sinful past to bother me anymore.
I don’t have to be ashamed anymore, I can ask for his forgiveness and I can become free.
Through Jesus’ blood we are free: all our debts are forgiven. This is how God showed us the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7
This resurrected Jesus Christ has the power today and here to forgive all the sins and guilt of my life.
It helps me to forgive myself and let go.
And he also frees me from wanting to work my way into heaven:
You are saved by God’s grace, because of faith. So you don’t owe your salvation to yourselves; no, it is God’s gift. You can’t achieve anything with God by your own efforts. Ephesians 2:8-9
Jesus is your door to freedom from guilt and shame.
And with that, Jesus is also the door to
Freedom from your past and freedom from a meaningless life
Maybe you’re sitting here this morning or watching the live stream and there are doors you’ve gone through in your life that you regret.
Doors that you can no longer undo.
Doors you suffer from.
guilt you have taken upon yourself.
That affects every one of us.
We all know that.
And you think:
That’s it .
You will not recover from this.
This will haunt you all your life.
But God has promised you that everything will work out for your good, even if you have to face the consequences and that means suffering and pain and detours.
He tells you:
Because my plan for you is clear: I want your happiness and not your misery. I will give you peace and free you from suffering to give you a future and hope.
Isn’t that brilliant what God intends for us?
When we accept the gift of forgiveness and begin to walk with Jesus and align with what He wants for our lives, He is the door to a hopeful, meaningful future.
We talked last Sunday about what it means to let Jesus sit up and do what He says. When we do that, we find stillness, inner peace, even when life is going crazy around us .
And our lives have meaning.
Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you, O God. Saint Augustine said. God created us for this friendship with him. Therein we find fulfillment.
He places us in a family with other people who walk with Jesus to strengthen, encourage, support, carry and also correct one another and he gives us gifts and abilities that we use for God and others allowed, so that people are made acquainted with the love of God and his kingdom grows and other people also experience this freedom.
And you know, there are always special moments where this happens, where I can experience it, where I feel a very special joy and a meaning that puts everything else in the shade.
Jesus is the door to freedom from your past and freedom from a meaningless life.
Jesus is also the door to
Freedom from unforgiveness and bitterness
Each of us has done something wrong to others and needed the forgiveness of others.
Something has been done to each of us at some point. We are human, we owe each other. And we all know the feeling when anger and bitterness rise in us and we would like to get back at the other person. Then we lie in bed in the evening and think about how we can do it and it doesn’t let us rest. And when we give these feelings more space, bitterness spreads in our lives.
But this bitterness is like a prison, because it’s not the other who’s hurting, it’s us. We can’t let go of these feelings.
That is why God reminds us:
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God, that not some root of bitterness springs up in you and becomes a burden, lest the whole church be affected in the end.
So we should be careful with the little things that they don’t get stuck, because bitterness has the potential to destroy many relationships.
Where are there such little things in your life where you are angry, where a conflict has not been properly resolved?
And what does it say here: See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God.
And when do I do that?
When I think I’m so great, I don’t need God’s forgiveness. Or when I lose sight of God’s forgiveness or am so hard on myself that I can’t accept it and forgive myself.
God asks me:
Forgive one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you!
And here we are at Easter.
God has forgiven me so much and now He wants me to forgive others too.
Forgiveness, the Bible says, is a choice. She is not dependent on feelings. But it can also be a process, a path that I have to go and maybe can’t go right now.
God wants to give you freedom so that you can finally get out of your prison. And so there is also an invitation in the words of Jesus:
Come to the Father, let yourself be healed, your wounds bandaged, and shown how much God has forgiven you so that you can let go of what has been done to you.
Forgiving doesn’t mean I forget, nor does it mean I can’t set good boundaries. But it is unconditional and not dependent on the other.
Because God’s power lives in me through His Holy Spirit, I can speak forgiveness and whenever my feelings come up, bring them back to Jesus.
He is the door and He will make sure that as I do so, little by little I will be freed from my unforgiveness and bitterness.
A 6th and penultimate point:
Jesus is the door to
Freedom from death
Death is our greatest prison as humans. Death puts an end to our life. This is cruel. And we know that none of us can escape it. But on Easter Sunday Jesus overcame death and opened the door to eternity. Death no longer has the last word – not with Jesus and not in my life either.
Just as Jesus was raised, we too will be raised to new life.
We are allowed to have a hope that transcends death , the hope of eternal life in God’s presence. This can take away the terror of death we all face. Jesus says death is not the end.
So Jesus says before his own death:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever accepts me will live even if he dies, and whoever lives and trusts in me will never die, not forever. Do you believe me ?
And his resurrection confirms:
But now Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first whom God raised from the dead, and his resurrection gives us assurance that those who died believing in him will also be resurrected.
So if you believe, that is, live with Jesus, then God promises you will be resurrected to eternal life. There we will have visible fellowship with God. We will rule with him. Wars, suffering, pain will be over. Love will reign.
This, dear ones, is the ultimate place of freedom that each and every one of us would like to be in. And thank God: Jesus conquered death. He is the door to freedom from death.
And one last thing:
Jesus is the door to
Freedom from fear
When the women see the angel in front of the tomb and are deeply shocked by what has happened, the angel tells them: Do not be afraid! Matthew 28:5
When the disciples sit terrified behind closed doors, and that’s what scares it, it locks you in a prison, it locks you away from other people, and Jesus appears to them and says, “Peace be with you!” John 20:19
In the world you are afraid, says Jesus. In the world you worry, that’s how it is. But they should not become a prison for us, who determine us and our behavior.
Because Jesus conquered death, we can stand before a grave and need not fear.
Because God loves us, we need not fear.
Because God has a good plan for our lives, we need not fear. He promised that everything should work together for the good of us.
And because God is in control, even if it doesn’t seem like it at times, we need not fear.
Fear and worry are ultimately distrust of God. God has given us his Spirit that lives in us and that wants to give us God’s peace and joy even in difficult situations. A peace that transcends our understanding.
And here again Jesus is the door.
We read that God has not given us a spirit of fear. That God is love and love drives out fear. So what is the best remedy for anxiety?
Phil. 4:6-7 says:
Do not worry, but turn to God in every situation and bring your requests before him. Give thanks for what he has given you. Then the peace of God, which far surpasses all human comprehension, will protect your thinking and willing in the good, secure in fellowship with Jesus Christ.
Nobody said it was easy.
Just as it’s not easy to see Jesus’ look at me and stop fooling or forgiving others. We have to fight for it. But if we do that and fix our eyes on Jesus, then he promises us his peace.
And just this week I saw another blatant report from a person who experienced exactly that in the face of being diagnosed with aggressive brain cancer and not long to live.
How the panic increased, but also how the peace of God and his presence could be felt.
God did a miracle for her, he doesn’t always do that.
But safe in his hands, we can know that death does not have the last word either, on the contrary, we will be much better off afterwards.
Even though I know that we all like to live.
Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit minister, worked among gang members in Los Angeles. He assembled a team of high-ranking doctors who specialized in removing tattoos using laser technology. This team is part of a program that removes tattoos of former gang members.
For ex-gang members, this is an essential thing, because tattoos were an expression of the gang’s lifelong claim on their member.
It is a mark that indicates ownership and identity.
The process of removing a tattoo is extremely painful. People who have had it done at this depth describe it as hot fat on their skin. Anyone who has experienced this knows what that means. But the waiting list is long and people endure this pain to become free and have a new identity.
That’s what Easter is all about.
Because Jesus loves you so much, he went to the cross and paid the price for your sins and God confirmed him and raised him from the dead so that you could be set free and changed by Jesus.
He is the door to:
Freedom from a false image of God
For the freedom to fool others
For freedom from guilt and shame
To freedom from your past and freedom from a meaningless life
To freedom from unforgiveness and bitterness
To freedom from death
And freedom from fear
In the Easter story we read how the angel tells the women who are looking for Jesus:
He is not there.
But thank God he’s here!
Because he lives.
He is risen.
And he invites you today:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are almost crushed by your burdens; I want to take them off you.
He wants to set you free.
He is the door.
And have you figuratively walked through that door yet?
Have you accepted forgiveness of your sins and entrusted your life to Jesus?
Did you ask him to get rid of your wrong image of him,
help you discover your true identity and stop pretending?
Gaining hope for your future and discovering where God puts you to live His mission,
to forgive others and let go of bitterness
let go of fear and worry
We want to worship Jesus with the next songs and thank him for what he has done for us.
During this time you can talk to God about it.
You can also go to the back of the foyer where there are people who would like to pray with you on these points or anything else.
And I invite us to stand up for the glory of God for this time.