In Luther’s great Easter hymn, “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands,” he paints a strange and vivid battle scene. “It was a strange and dreadful strife when life and death contended.” Luther sets the scene, telling us what Jesus has done to save us.
Christ Jesus, the embodiment and author of life, goes to fight and destroy the power of death that had doomed us all. But how does Jesus (Mr. Life) fight this fight? He dies. Strange, I know! But that’s how he does it. He let’s death take him down. But listen to what happens, Jesus’ death turns on death itself and swallows it up completely. “The victory remains with life. The reign of death was ended.” The death of Jesus devours death. “Holy Scripture plainly says that death is swallowed up by death.” Jesus rises from the dead for us as Lord. And where he goes, we go. Since Christ is risen, so will we be raised!
Death is now an eternal loser. Even though death still hurts and grieves us, the sting shall not remain. Our death and the death of our loved ones have already been defeated by Christ’s own death. And in his resurrection from the dead, now our resurrection is guaranteed. There’s a new day coming for us, the day where we rise bodily with Jesus and when we will see death swallowed up forever.
Now with this Good News, we defy death and give witness to the sure an certain hope we have in Christ our Lord. We sing of what Christ has done for us, telling of the strange and wonderful thing our Lord has done. “We sing to God right thankfully loud songs of hallelujah!”
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! HALLELUJAH!!
Pastor Michael Hanson