Because He Lives… An Easter Message from President Paul Linnemann

Easter 2023

Dear Friends in Jesus,

Each year, the arrival of Holy Week offers us the opportunity to consider the deep love our heavenly Father has for us as we remember our Lord Jesus’ suffering and death. There is no greater expression of His love and commitment to us. As we prepare to gather in worship and praise for His great gift, we also are confronted with the ultimate goal our Lord has for us and for all people – the blessing of eternal life. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead on Easter is the foundation for this blessing, and our confession of this truth directs our attention to the eternal hope we have in Him.

The past few years and, especially, the past few weeks have brought this hope we have in Christ to the forefront of my awareness. Both my parents, two brothers-in-law, colleagues, friends, and many fellow servants of the Gospel have passed from this life to the next. While God has blessed me with an understanding of the promise of heaven from my birth, it has become more personal and tangible as these people near and dear to my heart have died. It makes our Easter declaration, “He is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia,” so much more powerful and impacting.

John records the following conversation between Jesus and His disciples the night before He died for us in John 14:1-7:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

There are times when we wonder along with Thomas – Lord, we don’t know where You are going, so how can we know the way? The immediate unfolding of His plan is often hidden from our eyes. We can sense Thomas’ desperation and anxiety in not knowing, and we feel it, too. It’s then that Jesus’ words ring out loudly to our troubled spirits – I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

As God’s people, brought to faith by the Holy Spirit and baptized members of the family of God, we know where to look for Him. He is not on the cross – it is empty. He is not in the tomb – it, too, is empty. Jesus lives. He draws near to us in His Word, in the waters of baptism, and in the Lord’s Supper. He speaks to us as we care for, support, and pray for one another. We see Him moving among those who experience suffering and trials in this life, and we see other people as He does… people of ultimate worth and value… people worth dying for.

This Holy Week and Easter I invite you to join me in remembering the history of God’s saving action through our Lord, Jesus. But let’s not stop there. Because Jesus lives, we and all the people around us have the promise of eternal life before them. Because He lives, we have an everlasting hope of life forever with Him. Because He lives, sadness and separation never have the last word. Our loving God has the last word, and the Word He speaks to His creation lasts forever.

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” — Revelation 21:3-4

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Loving Father, we praise and thank You for saving us and bringing us home through Your plan of salvation in Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Bless us with faith in the risen Jesus as we contend with the challenges that we face here. Fill us with the eternal hope of life forever in our earthly journey, and use us as Your instruments of blessing in the lives of the people around us – people that You love with an everlasting love. Guide our remembrance of the great story this Eastertide, and let it fill our hearts with gratitude and resolve to serve You and our neighbor. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May God’s blessing rest upon all of us during these holy days.

President Paul Linnemann

Northwest District Lutheran Church Missouri Synod

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