P: Christ is risen!
C: He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
In today’s Easter Gospel, there is one phrase in particular that stands out as unusual and unique. It is reported that when the risen Jesus appeared to the women as they left the tomb, “they held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.” This brings to mind the words in Isaiah, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of Him who brings good news!” We don’t usually think of feet as being particularly beautiful, but the history of salvation, the true story of the Gospel can be followed by tracking the feet.
On the Sixth Day of Creation, God brought forth and formed a man from the dust of the ground and placed him in a garden made just for him. Adam wasn’t just someone for an all-powerful God to boss around; this man was a king, God’s representative on earth. And this king, Adam, was not created to lollygag around the garden all day; he was made to have dominion and to rule. This king was created with feet, for God gave him work to do, and he had to get around. His blessed work was to tend the garden and to guard it, and that meant also guarding His bride, Eve.
But Adam blew it big time. A preacher from hell, a fallen angel, came into the garden. And he came to Adam’s wife spewing his poisonous lies. Now, Adam should have taken those feet and planted them right between his wife and the serpent and said, “Eve, don’t listen to that preacher. He’s a liar.” But he was a very convincing preacher, smooth-talking and slick. Adam was caught flat-footed and did nothing to rescue his deceived wife. “Take; eat, Adam,” she said. And he did.
Almost all kings leave some kind of legacy, something they are remembered for. David was the great warrior king. Solomon is remembered for his wisdom and for building the temple. But King Adam built nothing. His legacy was death. His work brought tombs and graves into the world, funeral homes and obituaries, sickness and disease, fear and anxiety. Before the fall, Adam and Eve reverenced God with a holy fear and love. Now they were just scared of Him and everything else.
Consider your feet, you children of Adam. How often have you used your feet to wander away from Christ’s church to someplace you thought was more interesting or convinced yourself was more important, or buried those feet deeper under the covers rather than get up and go hear Christ’s Word each week as He commands? How often have you used your feet to wander away from those around you who are in need? How often have you run with those feet to share the latest bit of juicy gossip? How often have you stomped away from your spouse or your parents when you're angry at them? How often have you kicked others while they are down or to strut around like you're the best thing that ever happened? Because our feet are caked in the gunk and crud of sin, like Adam, we’ve been driven out of the garden of living in God’s presence. With Adam, we’ve made our bed, and it’s a grave, and now we’ll have to lie in it, too.
But amazingly God still loved fallen man who had blown it so badly, and He promised one day to send another Adam, another King. He would send a royal Seed–His only-begotten Son, God in the flesh, God with feet. These feet would not be the feet of a coward, but the feet of a champion who came into the world to restore all that King Adam ruined. His were the feet that came to crush the head of that false preacher who deceived Adam and filled the world with fear. This king, our Lord Jesus Christ, was not caught by the enemy flat-footed and unprepared.
These are the feet that stepped into the water of the Jordan River to be baptized for you. These are the feet of Him who walked from town to town preaching the kingdom of God and healing the sick, even walking right into a funeral procession to raise a widow’s son. These are feet that the sinful woman washed with her tears and hair! These are the feet that stood before the religious leaders and the Roman Governor. These are the feet that stumbled as they carried the cross to Calvary. And there, on that mountain, behold the beautiful feet, pierced with nails, affixed to the cross. All this to bring you mercy. His feet and hands and side and brow are pierced for you, for your sins. His blood washes it all away and cleanses you. Your sins are wiped out once and for all. The price has been fully paid. In Jesus there is peace between you and God. How beautiful indeed are those holy feet of Jesus that walked this earth on their way to be nailed to the tree for your salvation!
And today we rejoice in the glorious results of that sacrifice. For what good are the feet of a king if they can’t move, remaining cold in the grave? How can a dead king give out His gifts, give out a share in his kingdom, give glory and honor to his subjects? The Epistle said, “If Christ is not risen, you are still in your sins!” “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The term “firstfruits” means that Jesus’ Easter is just the beginning. In Him there is more resurrection to come. For as in Adam all die, so now all who are in Christ will be made alive. God the Father raised His crucified Son from the dead, so that you might know that you are no longer in the death of your sins. The resurrection proves that Jesus’ sacrifice really did take all your sins away. For if the wages of sin is death, the forgiveness of sins is resurrection from death. Let your conscience, then, be at peace. You have been reconciled to God in the risen Jesus. Death no longer has power over you. The holy feet of Jesus have kicked down the door of the grave and have knocked out the teeth of Satan’s accusing mouth. Your King is alive so that you might live and reign with Him forever.
What tremendous things we are given to see and hear about in the Easter Gospel! We see the sad and scared women, a picture of God’s sad and scared church, now filled with joy and gladness at the angel’s preaching. We see the stone rolled back and no body in there, catching a glimpse of our own future graves. For Jesus said, “Because I live, you will live also.” And He also said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies.” The fearsome angels who once guarded the way back into garden of Eden after the fall are no longer threatening in this Easter garden. See the angel preacher in white. He has no sword. He’s not even standing on his feet. He simply sits in a garden graveyard and preaches a short but magnificent sermon. “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said.” No more need to be afraid in this fear-filled world, says the preacher from heaven. The Crucified One dealt with and conquered all that could ever make you afraid, and He is alive forevermore.
See how Mary Magdalene and the other Mary take hold of those blessed feet of the Second Adam, as Jesus comes to them and preaches the same sermon. “Don’t be afraid.” They worship at the feet of their Savior and King who took the bed that Adam had made for man, laid in it for three days, and emptied it of its dread and power.
How great was that sixth day in the beginning when God made Himself a king with feet. But now that Jesus died on the sixth day, Good Friday, how much greater is what happened on this day, the eighth day, the first day of a new creation, when God placed His King back upright on His pierced feet to lift you up with Himself and to give you new and eternal life and bodily resurrection.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of Him who brings good news!” You may know that Romans 10 applies that verse to Christian pastors and preachers, who are called to be Jesus’ ambassadors and representatives. After all, didn’t Jesus prepare the apostles to be His ministers by washing their feet? The job of a minister is simply to be the mouth and the hands and the feet of Jesus, that His Easter gifts might be distributed to the world through His words and sacraments.
And so fellow believers, you also now are given to do just as the women did on that first Easter, to cling to Jesus’ beautiful, risen feet today. For Christ makes this chancel to be His throne and this altar to be His footstool. Come and worship the risen Jesus here and grasp His feet. He is truly alive; He is truly here. Receive His life-giving body and blood for the forgiveness of all of your sins. Share in His victory.
P: Christ is risen!
C: He is risen indeed. Alleluia.
(With thanks to the Rev. Mark Beutow)