This week I’m relaxing slightly by trawling the archives for Easter posts from previous years. A couple of posts from 2009 included some of Luther on the subject of Easter. In The Aim of Preaching Easter I quoted Pasquarello’s comment on Luther’s preaching:
Luther’s homiletic aim was to demonstrate, by means of the Gospel, that the resurrection is more than an idle tale or a painted picture that evokes admiration and religious sentiment. . . . He hoped that in telling others the Easter story, the presence of the risen Christ might elicit faith’s true confession: “Christ is my Savior and King.”
Furthermore, it isn’t enough to preach Easter because it is Easter, we do it to change lives. Luther wrote,“Although Christians will identify themselves with Judas, Caiaphas, and Pilate – sinful, condemned actors in the Gospel story – there is another who took the sins of humanity on himself when they were hung around his neck. . . . And today, Easter Sunday, when we see him, they are gone; there is only righteousness and life, the Risen Christ who comes to share his gifts.” (Sermons, 125, cited in Pasquarello, 120)
What should our Easter preaching do for Christians? Again, same book,“Christians are now free to look away from their sins, from evil and death, and to fix their gaze upon Christ, which is the logic or grammar of faith.”
In The Power of Identification, also in 2009, I quoted Luther on the issue of who we naturally identify with in the Easter story:
“Although Christians will identify themselves with Judas, Caiaphas, and Pilate; sinful, condemned actors in the Gospel story – there is another who took the sins of humanity on himself when they were hung around his neck.”
Let me finish with my follow up comment from that post:
When it comes to the story of the crucifixion we find ourselves identifying with so many characters: Judas, Peter, fleeing disciples, Caiaphas, Pilate, Roman soldiers, Simon from Cyrene, mocking executioners, mocking crowds, mocking thief, repentant thief, followers standing at a distance, followers standing close by, even the Centurion. Yet the wonder of it all is that we are invited to identify with the perfect One hanging on that cross, for in that act He was most wondrously identifying with us.