Look at What We’ve Done; We’ve Killed God!

Does it bother you? The crucifix—does it bother you? I don’t mean this crucifix. I mean the crucifix the holy evangelists set before us today. Does it bother you? Does it seem too gruesome, too depressing? Does it bother you?

Look at what we’ve done. We’ve killed God. Who will be God now? Will you be God? Will I? That may work for a while, but what will we do when God dies, as we all will? We’ve killed God. Where do we turn now? Shall we cease praying? Shall we surrender all morality since we’ve crucified absolute Truth? Shall we despair of life and do what God did: die? We killed God. What shall we do?

Look at him. This is not he; this is a representation of that day. Look at him. Close your eyes and look through the lenses of whatever faith you have left. Look at him. Who would believe in him—weak, naked, bloody, covered in spit, sunken and dead? Look at him. There is your God, you Christian. How foolish can you be?

Nietzsche said it long ago and today it is true: “God is dead.” And Nietzsche is dead too. And we will be dead soon as well. What a world? Dirt and worms, pine boxes and makeup on a cold, lifeless face.

Does it bother you? Why should it? This is what you wanted, isn’t it? You got your way. Every thoughtless word, every carnal deed, every wayward thought—this is what you wanted. You killed God. Does it bother you? I don’t see why it would.

Will you smile as you leave church today, supposing you make the time to go, to mark the death of God? Will you leave the nave in silence but engage in trite chatter in the narthex? Will you say, “Nice sermon, Pastor,” and hurry back to Netflix or some other distraction, as if nothing happened. God died today. Do you care? Will you care? Why should you care? He’s dead, what can you do about it?

You can believe. You can believe that God cannot die, that God lives, that although he dies he lives forever, and in him you will live as well. You killed God. It is true. But it is also true that you cannot kill him. He gave up his life. He held himself to the cross—your nails cannot hold God. You killed God, and God let you kill him, that he might never have to kill you, kill you with everlasting death in the fires of hell. You killed him, and it could happen no other way.

“Go!” “Suffer!” “Die!”—these are the words we must yell today. Do not be so naïve as to think they are not, because if he does not go, suffer, and die, he cannot rise, and if he does not rise, you will never rise as well. This is what he was born to do. This is why God became man. God must forsake God. God must punish God. God must hate God, for the Son has become our sin. The Father must hate him with the burning hatred only justice and holiness knows. The Father must look on him in hatred now so that, through him, he can then look on you in love. Look at him, and be ashamed. Be ashamed of him, because he is you, and the worst part of you, the part you do your best to hide. He is your sin.

All Christians, but especially Lutherans of all people, stand and watch today—don’t turn your head! We preach Christ crucified, because if he is not crucified, you are not baptized into his death and there is no value in receiving his body and blood. But he was crucified, and you are baptized, and you will receive the very instruments of your salvation for the forgiveness of your sins on Easter: his crucified yet living and life-giving body and blood.

The disciples ran and hid. Do not do that today. Watch. See how ugly your sin is. See how beautiful your Savior’s love is. See both those things as your God hangs on your cross. Look at what we’ve done. Look at what God has done. “It is finished.” Amen!

Mark 16:1-8 “In a Garden”

It started in a garden with a woman faced with death, her man cowering behind, waiting to see what would happen. It ends in a garden with women faced with death, their men cowering behind, in this case in a locked room, to see what would happen.

It started in a garden as peace with God was shattered. It ends in a garden as peace with God is declared.

It started in a garden when fingers were pointed, excuses were made, and blame was assigned. It ends in a garden with blame having become pointless, with forgiving concern for the Apostle who had denied our Lord.

It started in a garden with “did God really say?” It ends in the garden with “just as He said.”

It started in a garden with ears filled with that which ears ought not entertain, hands clasped about that which hands ought not touch, minds dragged into the gutter and away from God. It ends with ears filled with good news of the risen Master, hands eager to grasp Him, minds taken hostage by the miraculous and divine.

It started in a garden with an attempt to hide the shame God’s eyes had already seen but their hearts and mouths were unwilling to confess. It started with God’s sad, “Where are you?” as they cowered, the world forever changed, our relationship with God broken to the point that only His only-begotten Son’s pierced hands could put it back together. It ends with the glory God’s eyes had already seen set on full display for the eyes of His frightened disciples, with, “Do not be alarmed. He is not here. He is risen. And you will see Him.”

It started with exile from paradise, with toil in thorns and pain in childbirth, with brother killing brother. It ends with sweet invitation back into paradise, with rest through His thorns and salvation through His birth first from the Virgin and now from the tomb, with Brother killed by brother to make His brothers ever alive as He is.

It started with death, the wages of sin, the fruit of unbelief. It ends with life, the wages of His perfect submission to God’s will and Word, the fruit of His trust in His Father even when forsaken, even when hung on the tree.

It started with a tree, with the fruit of a tree consumed by our first parents, so that its venom became part of them and poisoned us with mortality. It ends with a tree, with the fruit of a tree eaten and drunk by us in His Supper, medicine of immortality.

It started with a lie. It ends with a promise. The lie was that God’s Word is not full. The promise is that God’s Word never comes back empty. “He is risen. Just as He said,” the angels glory, the angel reports to the women.

It started in a garden. It ends in a garden. Leave the old garden behind, with its sin and shame and blame and guilt and terror and doubt and despair and poison. No, walk out of this garden new women, new men today. No longer cower. No longer hide. No, God has seen you, and God sees you, and God will see you, and the God who sees you is the God who loves you, who pursues you, who is desperate to fix what we have broken. God today calls for you even as He called for St. Peter, for the old things are forgotten, the sins are washed away.

Today is the first day of His new creation. Today is a new day in your new life in Him. Today is the first day of your resurrection and one day closer to your resurrection, for the Firstfruits, our Lord Jesus, has burst His three-day prison, and our faith is not in vain, and it is not so short-armed as to reach only for this life, but always fixes our short-sighted eyes on the greater and everlasting life to come.

Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed. He is not in His tomb. He is not there. He is here, in His Word, in His Sacraments, in your hearts through faith, inviting you into a new and better paradise, one undefiled and eternal, one stored up in heaven for you.

There are two gardens. You’ve rightly belonged with our first parents in the one, but you now belong with Christ in the other. So get your gardens right today and rejoice. One is where it started. One is where it ends, and what a blessed end it is. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen, and He is risen, just as He was crucified: for you. Alleluia and alleluia.