Easter 2b

Preached: April 12, 2015

Easter Erases Your Sins
Acts 3:14, 15, 18, 19

Other listening options or try the podcast at iTunes (You will be leaving our website.)

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit points us to Jesus is Acts 3:

You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead … This is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord … (Acts 3:14, 15, 18, 19 NIV11)

This is the Word of our Lord.

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

A. Confess the enormity of your sin

They were just two boys playing together, best of friends. Let’s call them Joe and Ben. Sometimes they tossed a football back and forth. Sometimes they played cops and robbers. Sometimes they rode they’re bikes around town. Just two boys having fun on a summer afternoon.

One day while digging around in his dad’s closet, Ben found an old metal box. What he saw inside seemed to him a great discovery. How this would liven up their cops and robbers game! He shouts out to Joe. And as Joe races into the room, Ben swings around. Before he knows what’s happening, a flash, a bang, an acrid sulfur smell fills the air.

“Get up, Joe. Get up. Look at what I found. Stop fooling, Joe. Get up.” It takes awhile before the enormity of what he has done sets in. Only as the blood pools, does Ben realize that Joe’s not fooling.

You killed your best friend. How that horror strikes deep into our hearts! And that, dear friends, is the horror of each and every one of our sins. “You killed the author of life” (Acts 3:15 NIV11). Peter said to the crowd and to you and me. “You killed the author of life.” Do we see the enormity of our sin?

What happened that day in his Dad’s bedroom was seared on to Ben’s heart for the rest of his life. Nothing could erase from his mind the sight, the sound, the smell, the lifeless body. Nothing we do can erase the enormity of our sin.

Most of those in the crowd as Peter preached were not in Pilate’s courtyard on Good Friday asking for Barabas to be released instead of Jesus. Yet Peter says, “You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you” (Acts 3:14 NIV11). Most had not been there shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” But all of them were guilty. “You killed the author of life” (Acts 3:15 NIV11). And that accusation rightly falls on each of you and me as well. We killed him, just as surely as if we too had shouted “Crucify him,” just as surely as if we had hammered those nails into his hands. For you see, it doesn’t matter what sin you commit. Every sin makes us guilty of killing the Author of life. Do you see the enormity of each of your sins?

We each have different kinds of sins. One person gossips; another silently nurses a grudge. Some fall into greed, others into lust, and still others into anger or rage. Some are prone to worry; others to carelessness. Some keep their sinfulness internal, finding pleasure as they think about it; others act on it quickly. You get the picture.

But there is one sin that we’re all guilty of. We are guilty downplaying our own sinfulness, whatever those sins may be. We tell ourselves, “I’m not perfect, but at least I haven’t done ...” We fail to see the enormity of our own sin.

That downplaying of our own sinfulness is the Pharisee inside each of us. We try to avoid thinking of how much of a Pharisee lives inside of us by creating a caricature of them. We picture the Pharisees like the villain in some movie who pretends to be an upstanding citizen but is secretly working as the arch criminal outside the law. However, the Pharisees were the good citizens. They weren’t just pretending to be; they actually were. They were the church-going people of the day. They were the conservatives; the Sadducees were the liberals. The Pharisee were all for the Ten Commandments and moral standards. They would have lamented how immoral our society has become and how it’s just getting worse and worse. And because they were good people, they did not see the enormity of their own sins. Others people were worse. And if my sin isn’t quite so bad, maybe I can erase what’s there—or so the Pharisee inside of me imagines.

Don’t follow the Pharisee within. Confess the enormity of your sin. Let Peter’s charge, hit your heart hard. You have killed the Author of life. Even our smallest sin makes you and me guilty of that crime, no matter what that sin might be. How could you ever erase any of that? You haven’t accidentally killed your best friend. You have killed the One through whom comes all that is good. You have killed the One through whom all things, including each of us, were created. You have killed the One who came from the Father as the Light to bring life to those in darkness. You and I have killed the Author of life.

For you see, “he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5 NIV84). Yes, our sins, yours and mine, brought death to the Author of life—not just our big one, but even our smallest sin. Confess the enormity of them all. Confess how unerasable they all are.

B. Believe the astounding plan of God’s grace

“You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead … This is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets” (Acts 3:15, 18 NIV11).

As enormous as your guilt is, God’s grace is greater. He planned out how to erase our unerasable sins. And over the centuries he revealed his plan through the prophets and wrote it down in the Scriptures. Not even the enormity of our sin could stop God’s plan. For he raised Jesus from the dead. Believe it.

Yes, dear fellow sinners, believe the astounding plan of God’s grace. Even though our sinfulness made us unlovable and worthless, God’s grace wanted to rescue you and me. Even though our sin cost the life of his own dearly beloved Son, God’s grace wanted to erase your sins and mine. Even though we killed the Author of life, God’s grace saves. Believe the astounding plan of God’s grace.

God raised Jesus from the dead. That’s God’s verdict declaring Jesus himself to be innocent. Anything that had been counted against him in God’s courtroom had been erased—not just partially erased, but completely wiped out. There wasn’t any faded image as when a whiteboard is cleared, no lingering chalk dust or rubber eraser shards. Completely erased.

But whose sins had been written down against Jesus? Yours and mine and the entire world’s. So whose sins did Easter erase? Think about it. If our sins and the sins of the rest of the world were so thoroughly counted against Jesus that he actually died because of them, then what does his resurrection say about those same sins? They have been erased, fully and completely erased. Easter erased the unerasable. Easter erased your sins. That is God’s saving plan. Believe this astounding plan of God’s grace.

The Apostle calls to you and me, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19 NIV11). Many want to hold on to their own record. They want to show that they were better than others. They want their effort recorded. But as long as we cling to our own record, we’re clinging to our sins. We’re refusing to let Easter erase them. Repentance, though, lets go off our own record and clings only to Jesus. Repentance turns to God in faith, believing that Easter has completely erased my record of sins. It has wiped out even the worst of them. For Jesus, my Savior, lives. Yes, dear friends, believe this astounding plan of God’s grace. Easter has erased your sins.

How refreshing this message is! Easter erases your sins. So be free from guilt. Your record is wiped clean each day. Easter erases your sins. So no longer be driven by fear that wonders whether you’ve done enough to make God happy. There’s nothing refreshing about that. Rather plunge into this Good News: Easter erases your sins. With this Good News continually refreshing your heart like a cleansing shower each day, eagerly serve the One who has erased your sins. Eagerly obey the One who smiles on you, his own dear child in Christ. Eagerly shine out with his love, for he loves you dearly. Yes, Easter erases your sins. How that Good News refreshes us day after day, readying us to gladly and eagerly live for him who died for you and rose again!

Yes, dear friends, each day we see and confess the enormity of our own sins. I have killed the Author of life. I cannot erase any of my guilt. But my risen Savior has. He has erased all of it. That’s the astounding plan of God’s grace. Believe this Good News with all your heart: Easter erases your sins. Amen.

The peace of god that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

To leave a comment click here.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313

Top