Video of Matins for the Resurrection of Our Lord is here. The sermon begins at around the 42:00 mark.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I suppose there are a number of reasons why someone might hide something. You might hide something just because you want to keep it a secret. It’s not necessarily something bad; it’s just that you don’t want everyone to know. You want to keep it for yourself, like when you hid your teenage diary. Or you might hide something that you think is shameful. You think that if you opened it up and exposed it for everyone to see, they will think differently of you—think badly of you. They might judge you for what it is, so you keep it hidden. Or you might hide something to keep it safe. You don’t want everyone knowing that you have it, because people who want it might come and steal it. So you keep it hidden to keep it safe.
Or maybe today you’re thinking about hiding things that you want to be found. There may not be large-scale Easter egg hunts, but maybe you’re still going to hide Easter eggs for your children. And you hide those eggs because you want them to be found. In fact, I would encourage you to keep track of where you hide them, if your children don’t find them all, especially if they are real, hard-boiled eggs. You don’t want to find them in a few weeks when there’s only stink and rot! You hide Easter eggs because you want them to be found.
God also hides things that He wants to be found. St. Paul says that the mystery of God’s salvation was hidden from the beginning of the ages. It was hidden, wrapped up in the words of prophets and patriarchs, in the promises that God gave to and through them—all those Easter eggs hidden in plain sight. The mystery of salvation was hidden in order to be revealed. In the right time, in the fullness of time, God revealed that mystery when He sent forth His Son, conceived and born of woman for all those who are born of women, all those whose sin binds them to death under the law. God revealed that hidden mystery so that it would be found, precisely where He wanted it found. He revealed it in Jesus so that we wouldn’t have to go wandering around trying to find out where it was hidden. He says, Here it is! Here is My salvation, My life, My peace for you. Hidden in plain sight.
But it’s clear that that revelation is still hidden from unbelieving eyes. When Jesus was actually walking around on this earth, in the midst of people, right before their eyes, not everyone believed Him even then. Jesus told a story about a rich man and a poor man, named Lazarus. When the rich man cries out in anguish to Abraham, and asks him to send someone to his brothers so that they will not have to come to that place, Abraham says, They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them. No, Father Abraham, the man says, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will believe them. And Abraham says, if they will not believe Moses and the prophets, they will not believe even if someone rises from the dead. And they don’t. Someone rises from the dead, and they still don’t believe.
When Peter, James, and John see that glimpse of His glory on the mountain of Transfiguration—the only ones on this earth to see the man Jesus in His glory prior to the resurrection—their first thought is not to believe and listen to Jesus. It takes the voice of the Father from the cloud to tell them to listen to Jesus. And at the end of His earthly life, as John says, He did so many signs before the eyes of the people, but they did not believe in Him. So He went away and hid Himself from them.
This week is all about hiding and revealing. It’s about victory hidden in defeat; glory hidden in shame and suffering; life hidden in death. It’s about Jesus taking all your secrets, and all your shame, and all your sin, and all your suffering and hiding them in His own suffering and death. Then He hides it all in the ground, removes it from you, hides it away forever. Then He rises from the dead, and gives you His Holy Baptism, so that you will be forever hidden in Him. He buries you with Him in His death, and then He raises you with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, by which He raised Christ from the dead (Colossians 2:12).
Now you who have already died are hidden forever in Christ. Your life is hidden with Christ in God, and when Christ, who is your Life, appears, then you will appear with Him in glory. Your life is there, where no death, no sickness, no sin, no devil can ever get at it. Jesus has already died and risen; how can death touch Him? And if it can’t harm Him anymore, then it can’t harm you, because your life is with Him there. He has hidden your life with Him in order to keep it safe forever. Your treasure is where your heart is, and your heart is with Christ.
Paul compares these hidden, heavenly things with the visible earthly things. If your treasure is here on earth, then moth and rust can destroy it, and thieves can break in and steal it. All the earthly things around us are things that are passing away, things that are consumed, things that are destroyed. We have seen what happens when we put our trust in those things, in health, and life, and the economy, and the government. Everything around us can be shaken; it changes; it is uncertain, and so we are filled with fear and doubt.
Is that any place to put your trust and faith, in all those things that you can see and handle and touch and taste around you? No, we look to the things above, that is, in Christ. We do not look to the things that are seen, but to the the unseen, invisible, hidden things. For the things that are seen, these earthly things, are transient. But the unseen things are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18). All these things are going away; it is only Christ and what is with Him that is eternal, that is safe, that is kept from death. And since you have been baptized into Christ, you are safe with Him, hidden in God Himself.
And in order to sustain you in the midst of the earthly, visible, changing things, He gives you heavenly, invisible, changeless things. And He uses the earthly things to do it. Water and bread and wine are going away; they are consumed and gone. But to those things, God attaches His Word that remains forever, and gives you hidden, saving things with them: Jesus’ own death and resurrection, His own living Body and Blood, and all the salvation, life, and peace that come with Him.
He does this, pointing us to these hidden things, until the Day when all that is hidden will be revealed. The Kingdom of God, Jesus says, is like leaven that a woman worked into three parts of dough, until all of it was leavened. And when this old world is leavened with the Kingdom of God, then that hidden Kingdom will be revealed at the coming of the King. He will remove the visible sin and death, and put eternal life and peace in their place. Everything that has been hidden will be revealed, and we will see the face of our risen and glorified Lord. We will see ourselves revealed in His glory, and we will see our eternal life, hidden now with Christ, but then revealed.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.
– Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 4/10/20