Video of the Divine Service is here. The sermon begins around the 26:15 mark.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia! The old has gone and the new has come! The women went to the tomb early on the first day of the week to see the old. They went to “see the tomb.” They went to see a tomb, and a stone in front of the entrance, a sealed grave, and the dead Jesus on the inside of it. That’s what they went to see, but when they got there, they saw something entirely different. The stone was not in front of the entrance, and there was an angel sitting on the stone, mocking death. And he said to them, “Look! See where He used to lie! He used to be there, but He is not now.” They went seeking the old, the dead, the end; and they found the new, the resurrection, the life, and the beginning.
Paul calls the new things the “above” things, and he calls the old things the “earthly” things. He says, “If you have been raised with Christ”—and in order to be raised, you have to be dead. He says that earlier in chapter 2, when he says that we were buried with Christ by baptism. Dead, buried, risen. If you have been raised with Christ, think about the above things, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God’s power. Do not think about the earthly things; don’t set your mind on anything in this entire creation, because it is all passing away. And if you set your mind on the things that are passing away, then you go with them. Instead, set your mind on the above things, on Christ, on the eternity of His life and resurrection.
Because you have already died. You died with Christ when you were baptized. And your life—your true life, your eternal life—has been hidden with Christ in God. It has been hidden and it is now. Hidden from what? From all the earthly things; all the things of this creation as it is, stuck in sin and death, temporary and passing quickly. All the things that we fear are in some way or another related to death, aren’t they? We fear the things that can take our lives or the lives of those we love; the things that threaten our lives or our livelihoods in some way. But your life has been hidden from all that, and it has been hidden in Christ with God. That means the only way anything can attack you, harm you, kill you, or take your life is if it can attack, harm, or kill Christ. But He already did that; already died, already rose. So death has no more authority, no more lordship, no more hold over Him. Neither, then, can your life be taken from where it is hidden with Christ. Set your minds on those above things.
But do not set your minds on the earthly things. Instead, Paul says, put them to death. Kill them. You already died, but all these earthly things keep trying to climb out of the grave Christ made for them. What are those earthly things? Paul lists them: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; anger, wrath, malice, abusive talk from your mouths; lying to each other (Colossians 3:5-9). Put those things to death daily, because they are daily passing away. They have no hold on your life, though they keep rising up to pull you away from Christ, who is your life. He crucified all of it in His own body, and buried all that, and left it there when He left the tomb. The old has gone.
Now the new has come to you, God’s chosen ones, on whom He has written His holy Name. You are His holy ones, His beloved ones. You used to walk around in the earthly things, but now you walk around as a new creature in the above things: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience; bearing with one another in love; if someone has a complaint with someone else, forgiving; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must forgive. Over all of this, put on love, which binds all of it together in perfect harmony. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, and let the word of Christ dwell richly in you. The word of Christ is what He keeps speaking to keep killing the old and bringing out the new, until there is no more of the earthly, and there is only that which is of the above.
It is still hidden from our eyes. We only see the earthly, but the things we see are passing away. It is the invisible, above, new things that are eternal. Christ is eternal. His resurrection life is eternal. So that means your life, hidden in Christ, is eternal—Christ Himself is your life! And it will not be hidden forever. The day is coming when Christ, your life, will be revealed in all His resurrection glory, and then you, too, will be revealed with Him in your resurrection glory. Then will come the saying, death is swallowed up in victory. But even now, you have already died and already been raised with Christ, so you can say, “Death, where is your victory?” “Death, where is your sting?” So do not fear. Do not fear anything in all of creation, none of which can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, your Lord. Nothing in your past; nothing right now; nothing that is to come can pull your life out of the nail-marked hands of Christ. Alleluia! The old has gone! The new has come! Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
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, 4/7/23