· Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
o A man is walking from the lake carrying two fish in a bucket. He is approached by the game warden who asks him for his fishing license.
§ The fisherman says to the warden, “I did not catch these fish, they are my pets. Every day I come down to the water and whistle and these fish jump out into my bucket and I take them around to see the sights only to return them at the end of the day.”
· The warden, not believing him, reminds him that it is illegal to fish without a license. The fisherman turns to the warden and says, “If you don’t believe me then watch,”
o The Warden now has swallowed the fisherman’s story hook, line and sinker and says: “Well, I have to see this!”
§ The fisherman looks back with a sly smile on his face as he throws the fish back into the water.
· The warden says excitedly, “Now whistle to your fish and show me how they jump out the water.”
o The fisherman turns to the warden and says, “What fish?”
· I bet you can relate to that warden – I bet you can remember a time when you swallowed someone’s practical joke or story “hook, line, and sinker.”
o When you were completely sucked in - We have all been there.
§ In fact it goes back to the very beginning doesn’t it? All the way back to Adam and Eve
· They were the first ones to swallow a deception hook, line, and sinker weren’t they?
o They swallowed Satan’s sly lie, they bit into the devil’s deception - hook, line, and sinker.
§ “If you eat of that fruit you will not die – you will be like God.”
· Adam and Eve both took the fruit and ate – and with it they swallowed death
o Death for themselves and death for every one of their sons and daughters who would come after them – right down to you and me as we sit here this very morning.
· We are not so much better than Adam and Eve are we?
o Ever notice how at Christmas and at Easter the magazine covers and the TV shows always have something to do with a so-called shocking secret revealed about the Bible and what it says about Jesus?
§ We are tempted to swallow this pseudo-scholarship and it raises doubts in our mind just as it did for Adam and Eve – did God really say?
· We are tempted to swallow all kinds of false teaching and preaching that we hear on the radio or TV by so called ministers of the Gospel who are really only snake oil salesmen seeking to charm you out of what is in your wallet
o We are tempted to swallow all kinds of unbiblical teaching and thinking that we hear all around us in the world – the modern day orthodoxy of our culture often times is completely contrary to what God’s Word reveals as true
§ Many Christians who are not well founded upon God’s Word in the Bible have not only nibbled at some of this false teaching but have swallowed it hook, line and sinker
· It is a dangerous world out there and there are all kinds of lures, all kinds of bait, the devil tries to use to entice our sinful flesh to bite and swallow
o But the devil’s basic strategy has not changed since Adam and Eve – he is basically asking the same question to try and introduce doubt into the believer’s heart – “Did God really say?”
· That question of the devil’s is no more strongly heard than at the graveside of a loved one
o We look down at a casket being lowered into the ground and we can hear the question: Did God really say? Did God really say that by grace through faith in Jesus there is eternal life and the resurrection of the body? Did God really say?
§ At the death of a loved one it can feel not so much that we have swallowed anything but that we have been swallowed up in darkness.
· But in the midst of the struggles we have with our sinful flesh and the devil’s deceptive lures we have a clear Word of God, a clear promise
o The prophet Isaiah wrote: “He will swallow up death forever.”
§ A clear promise full of hope for all of us this morning – all of us who face the struggles of this life, all of us who have faced the death and loss of a loved one, all of us who will one day face our own death.
· “He will swallow up death forever” Isaiah prophesied. And the prophecy, that promise from God, was fulfilled in Jesus.
o This morning I am going to tell you about a time when the Devil took God’s bait and swallowed it hook, line, and sinker
§ And in so doing death was swallowed up forever.
· Picture Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Kneeling in anguished prayer. Sweating blood. He prays: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
o The cup of which our Lord speaks is the cup of God’s wrath that will be poured out upon Him on the cross. The cup of which He speaks is the cup of suffering.
§ On Good Friday – Jesus will drink of that cup upon the cross
· He will drink it to the dregs. He swallowed all of it.
o And there He died. The sins of the whole world upon Him. There He suffered hell – forsaken of the Father. For you. For me.
§ The devil rejoiced to see Jesus dead on the cross. The devil with a smile curling at his lips would have gone forward to claim his newest and most precious of all victims. The devil went forward and swallowed Jesus.
· And it is here, dear friends, it is here, that the devil took the bait. It is here that the death dealing devil took God’s bait and swallowed hook, line, and sinker.
o For the devil in his insane evil foolishness thought he had won, thought he was victorious over God and His plan to rescue the world
§ And so he swallowed Jesus – not realizing that this was God’s plan all along!
· Not realizing that he was not swallowing some man – but He was swallowing the Son of God, He was swallowing God Himself
o And at that the deceiver had been deceived, at that by deception the deceiver would be destroyed
§ God gave a mighty yank and pulled the devil out of the water and up onto the shore
· There on the shore the devil flopped around and Jesus walked up, the risen and resurrected and fully victorious Jesus, and lifted his heel and with all the might of God he smashed down with his heel and crushed the devil’s head
o The strife is o’er, the victory’s won!
· God speaks to you this day through His holy Word.
o Despite what you might hear in the world around you. Despite the devil’s deceitful whispers you might hear in your ear
§ The truth of God’s victory drowns out all the devil’s prattle. The truth of God’s victory drowns out all the world’s words
· Hear this loud and clear this day dear Christian friends!
o Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
§ And because He lives so shall you and so shall all who die in faith.
· St. Paul writes: “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
o Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of the world on the cross. Your sins and mine.
§ Jesus was swallowed up into the tomb.
· In the tomb your sins were swallowed up. In the tomb your death was swallowed up – forever.
o In the tomb your sins and your death were buried – never to be seen again. Death is dead!
§ But the tomb could not hold Jesus.
· Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
o Jesus rose victorious from the grave. Jesus rose conquering sin, death, and the devil
§ Jesus rose and lives as our triumphant king giving freely to His people His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation
· You who face the many struggles of this life – hear God’s Word of promise to you this morning.
o You who mourn the death of a loved one – hear God’s Word of victory to you this morning
§ You who will one day face death itself – hear God’s Word of triumph to you this morning.
· For He speaks it directly to you because He did it all for you.
o But even more than speaking He comes to you with His risen body and blood in Holy Communion
§ In Holy Communion you swallow the medicine of immortality
· In Holy Communion you swallow salvation.
o In Holy Communion the risen Jesus is with you personally, strengthening you to face the struggles of this life, giving you life to face death.
· Isaiah prophesied” “He will swallow up death forever”
o Jesus fulfilled that prophecy. Death and the devil have been defeated.
§ You receive this victory simply by grace through faith in Jesus.
· We journey forward into our lives, knowing we will face trials, knowing we will face struggles and temptations, knowing we will one day face death – but we go forward with confidence because we know our risen and victorious Lord Jesus is behind us, beside us, and in front of us.
o And so in that confident trust and with hearts full of faith we gather on this highest and most holiest of all festivals with Christians here in God’s house, we gather with millions of Christians around the globe this day, we gather with the whole host of heaven including the faithful who have gone before us in the mystical body that is the Church of Christ, and we rejoice and we sing, we celebrate and we feast, because death has been defeated! Death has been swallowed up forever!
§ Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!