Rev. Mark Buetow
"Location, location, location!” That, they say, is what's most important for a business to do well. Well, our Easter Gospel is about, location, location, location. All too often, when we get into a discussion about God, we leave location behind. God is just “out there” or “up there” somewhere. You can't see Him. You just assume He's there and doing something or other. That's how the world thinks of God and the devil loves to trap Christians into thinking that way too. But through all that abstract, “out there” God talk and clutter, the Easter Gospel shines brightly, reminding us that God is really a location, location, location God. He tells us where He is and what He's doing. And Easter is really all about that.
Location: Nazareth. The angel says to the women, “You're looking for Jesus of Nazareth.” That's a location. A specific person from a specific place. It's a reminder to us that God became man. He was in Mary's womb and born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. Our Lord isn't just “out there somewhere.” He was in Nazareth. He lived there. Grew up there. Played there. Ate there. Worked there. And when He began His work of salvation in earnest, He preached there too. The point is this: God is located in the flesh. He went places and did stuff. When we speak about God, especially to unbelievers, we don't need to get caught in their trap of “abstract God somewhere.” Talk to them about Jesus, the God who grew up in and was from Nazareth. You can still go there today. It's a real place. And He's a real person that was there.
Location: The cross and tomb. The angel goes on: “Jesus...who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him!” Now Jesus went lots of places but the most important place He was, was the cross and tomb. On that cross, God died. On that cross, God took away our sins. On that cross, Jesus, the Lamb of God, gave Himself as the sacrifice for sins. It happened there on a hill called Calvary. And that hill is still there today. And then there is a garden tomb. He was there too, resting in the tomb until He rose on Easter. The women knew where that tomb was and they and the disciples saw clearly that it was empty. But there in a particular place, our Lord hung on the tree. There, God was. He didn't look like God, all bloody and dead, but you can't get a more specific location than that. It's where, in the midst of all our suffering and asking that question, “Where's God?” we can point to Calvary and the cross and say, “Right there, pierced for you!”
Location: Galilee. “Tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going to Galilee. There you will see Him just as He told you.” Because He's risen! He's alive! He WAS on the cross. And He WAS in the tomb but now He is alive. And He is where His Word said He would be: In Galilee. Eventually He would appear to all His disciples, where they were, in His Body. He is no ghost or spirit. No vision or dream or delusion. He's alive and He can prove it by showing His disciples the LOCATION of those nail and spear holes. The God who walked around Galilee and Judea before He died is the same God who walked around Galilee and Judea when He was alive again. Once more, God is not an “out there” kind of God, but the God who is in the flesh, who suffered for our sins, rose again and was seen by all of those eyewitnesses.
Location: Christ's church today. Just as our risen Lord had told His disciples where He would be (in Galilee), so He tells us where He will be. After He had conquered sin and death, died and risen, before His Ascension, Jesus told His disciples to go and preach and baptize and that He would be with them always to the end of the age. So now, today, where is the Lord? Where do we find Him? Sure, He's everywhere because He's God, but remember: Location, location, location. He tells us where He is going to be located for our salvation. For our comfort and strength. And where is that? Right here in His church. Where water is put upon you at the location of the font. Where your pastor is located to preach and teach Christ's Word to you and absolve you of your sins. Where Christ Himself is located in His Body and Blood on the altar in the meal of salvation. In these locations, these specific, concrete, actual places, we don't get caught up in the “somewhere out there” God but the God-with-us in the flesh who is still with us in His church. If you want to know who God is, He is there in Christ. And if you want to know where Christ is, He's right here in His church. Therefore we are rescued from useless arguments about a God “out there somewhere” because we have a God who has come in the flesh and still comes in His flesh through His Word and Sacraments in His church.
So Easter is about location, location, location! God has a location! He's not just everywhere and anywhere. He's somewhere. And He's somewhere FOR YOU. That location, that somewhere is His holy Christian church on earth where His gifts are given for forgiveness, life and salvation. His church where by the forgiveness of sins He won by His death and resurrection, sin and death and the devil and hell are all defeated. His church in which we are nourished in the faith and kept in that faith til the day our Lord comes back and raises US from the dead, just as He rose from the dead on Easter. Therefore don't seek Him in there, in your feelings, “out there,” in nature, our “up there” in the sky somewhere, or anywhere else. He is right HERE for you. For to say that Christ is risen is to confess that He is right here in this location for you. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Created: April 24th, 2011