The First Easter Sermon On Record

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April 17, 2022

Matthew 28:5-7 NIV

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

CONSIDER THIS

In celebration of the Resurrection, it might be becoming something of a Daily Text tradition to share the first sermon (outside of Scripture) we have on record. It is called On Pascha and was preached by Melito, Bishop of Sardis, who was a prominent figure of second-century Christianity. The present text (excerpted for length) was written in 167 AD, and is the earliest Christian sermon that has survived from antiquity. It has been preached over the centuries, often at Easter Vigils. 

Of course,  the very first Easter sermon was also the shortest and happened on Easter morning. It went like this:

He has risen from the dead. 

And you say . . .

And now, without further adieu, I give you On Pascha. And if you never listen to the Seedbed Daily text, today would be a good day to start. I might have gotten a little loud. ;0) 

This is the one who comes from heaven onto
the earth for us suffering ones,
and wraps himself in the suffering one
through a virgin womb
and comes as a human.
He accepted the suffering of us suffering ones,
through suffering in a body which could suffer,
and set free the flesh from suffering.
Through the spirit which cannot die
he slew the human-slayer death.

He is the one led like a lamb
and slaughtered like a sheep;
he ransomed us from the worship of the world
as from the land of Egypt,
and he set us free from the slavery of the devil
as from the hand of Pharaoh,
and sealed our souls with his own spirit,
and the members of our body with his blood.

This is the one who clad death in shame
and, as Moses did to Pharaoh,
made the devil grieve.
This is the one who struck down lawlessness
and made injustice childless,
as Moses did in Egypt,
This is the one who delivered us from slavery to freedom,
from darkness into light,
from death into life,
from tyranny into an eternal Kingdom,
and made us a new priesthood,
and a people everlasting for himself.

This is the Pascha of our salvation:
this is the one who in many people endured many things.
This is the one who was murdered in Abel,
tied up in Isaac,
exiled in Jacob,
sold in Joseph,
exposed in Moses,
slaughtered in the lamb,
hunted down in David,
dishonored in the prophets.

This is the one made flesh in a virgin
who was hanged on a tree,
who was buried in the earth,
who was raised from the dead,
who was exalted to the heights of heaven.

This is the lamb slain,
this is the speechless lamb,
this is the one born of Mary the fair ewe,
this is the one taken from the flock,
and led to slaughter.
Who was sacrificed in the evening,
and buried at night;
who was not broken on the tree,
who was not undone in the earth,
who rose from the dead and resurrected humankind from the grave below.

O mystifying murder! O mystifying injustice!
The master is obscured by his body exposed,
and is not held worthy of a veil to shield him from view.
For this reason the great lights turned away,
and the day was turned to darkness;
to hid the one denuded on the tree,
obscuring not the body of the Lord but human eyes.

For when the people did not tremble, the earth shook.
When the people did not fear, the heavens were afraid.
When the people did not rend their garments, the angel rent his own.
When the people did not lament, the Lord thundered from heaven,
and the most high gave voice.

“Who takes issue with me? Let him stand before me.
I set free the condemned.
I gave life to the dead.
I raise up the entombed.
Who will contradict me?

“It is I,” says the Christ,
“I am he who destroys death
and triumphs over the enemy,
and crushes Hades,
and binds the strong man,
and bears humanity off to the heavenly heights.”

“It is I,” says the Christ,
“So come all families of people,
adulterated with sin,
and receive forgiveness of sins.
For I am your freedom.
I am the Passover of salvation,
I am the Lamb slaughtered for you,
I am your ransom,
I am your life,
I am your light,
I am your salvation,
I am your resurrection,
I am your Kings.
I shall raise you up by my right hand,
I will lead you to the heights of heaven,
There shall I show you the everlasting Father.”

He it is who made the heaven and the earth,
and formed humanity in the beginning,
who was proclaimed through the law and the prophets,
who took flesh from a virgin,
who was hung on a tree,
who was buried in earth,
who was raised from the dead,
and ascended to the heights of heaven,
who sits at the right hand of the Father,
who has the power to save all things,
through whom the Father acted from the beginning and forever.

This is the alpha and omega,
this is the beginning and the incomprehensible end.
This is the Christ,
this is the King,
this is Jesus,
this is the commander,
this is the Lord,
this is he who rose from the dead,
this is he who sits at the right hand of the father,
he bears the father and is borne by him.
To him be the glory and the might forever.
Amen.

Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead. . . 

Your turn: 

THE PRAYER 

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

–Charles Wesley, the Poet Laureate of Great Awakening (written 1739)

THE QUESTION

What are your takeaways from 1 Peter? What has Jesus revealed to you through the course of our journey? How are you growing? 

P.S. The Domino Effect (Colossians) begins Monday on the Daily Text

On Monday we begin a fifty day journey through Paul’s letter from a Roman prison cell to the Church in Colossae. The series is called The Domino Effect and is one of my favorites. We actually have the books in the Seed House and encourage you to get a copy today. And please invite family and friends to join us in the series. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com
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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

1 COMMENT

  1. “This is the One . . .”–“is” not “was”!

    “It is I,” says the Christ . . . “I am . . .!”

    I love present tense proclamation. Too many sermons teach Christians to look for Jesus in the past and Jesus coming in the future, but neglect to teach Christians to see, encounter, surrender to, and daily obey Jesus in the now!

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