On this blessed Easter Sunday, we focus on the Gospel text and read part of an Easter morning sermon preached by Luther. This sermon is translated in The 1529 Holy Week and Easter Sermons of Dr. Martin Luther.
Alleluia! Christ is risen! In His resurrection, Jesus defeated sin, death, and the devil. As we continue through this Easter season, may God strengthen our faith as we keep our eyes fixed on our resurrected Lord!
When an evil conscience and fear plague Christians, then they say: This does not matter to me for I have no sins; Christ has them all. I see them there. He took them on himself on the cross and buried them. But now he lives and is risen. Indeed I have sins and good works, but I do not look at them; I look upon Christ alone. If they teach us that we become righteous through our works, they tear this picture from our hearts and slander Christ. And yet it is true: I am a sinner, and I am not a sinner. But they say: I only want to have good works. But if I didn’t confess to being a sinner, I would not have Christ and would not be in need of him because I refused to be a sinner. For this reason, if I won’t be a sinner, then I am one; and conversely, if I am in myself a condemned sinner but go outside myself and into Christ, then I am not one.
Christians from their own standpoint are a Judas, a Caiaphas, a Pilate and find themselves condemned. But there is another Person who took my sins on himself. On Good Friday they are all laid around his neck. But on Easter I also look at him, and then he has none. He has commanded that I look at my sins not on me, but on Christ. Whoever can do this has recovered from the snakes’ bite [John 3:15] and looks at Christ rightly; for where there is no sin there is righteousness and life.
Thus sin is completely taken away in the resurrection. Everyone should learn this today, that all of us should abandon thoughts about ourselves and should not pass judgment on ourselves according to our feelings. For this is contrary to Christ and the Gospel, which says Christ has taken away the sin from our hearts and consciences and laid them on himself. For this reason the apostles praise the resurrection unceasingly. We should also do it because the flesh is too evil, Satan too powerful, and the conscience too slow for us to learn to look at Christ and not ourselves.
Devotional reading is from The 1529 Holy Week and Easter Sermons of Dr. Martin Luther, pages 126–27 © 1999 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.