All Saints’ Day
November 5, 2017
Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It is written, “Seeing the crowds, [Jesus] went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2And [Jesus] opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. and Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Thus far the text.
Let us pray, “Gracious Father, who has assembled a gathering of saints in heaven and on earth, many of us gathered here to mourn the death of loved ones who have died in Christ. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may be comforted and rest in Your kingdom of heaven even now by Your grace alone; in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Many of you come before the Lord this morning thinking of a loved one who died believing in Jesus. It is ok to remember all the blessings strewn by them throughout their lives. It is ok to again give thanks to God for them. It is ok to feel a little sad that they are no longer with you. Even Jesus cried when His faithful friend Lazarus died.
But it is better to remember that the dead in Christ are in Christ. There is no more tear or sorrow for them. Their bodies are buried in the ground. Yet, their souls are fully alive to God. They have died to all things bad and are alive to all the blessings of God in Christ.
Also, it is better to remember that the dead in Christ are not too far away. They are in Christ and Christ is not far away. He is near. Christ is even bodily present with us in His Supper. The closest we living saints may bodily get to the dead saints is in the Lord’s Supper. They are with Christ and Christ is bodily with us in His Supper. So as you mourn, come eat and drink of the Lord.
Today’s Word is from the Gospel according to Matthew. Jesus is at the height of His earthly ministry. Jesus has just spent the night in prayer. And “seeing the crowds, [Jesus] went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is summarizing His whole teaching for His disciples. This is not evangelism. Jesus is about to teach those who have already received the Gospel, been taught the Word of God, and continue to have faith in Jesus. People like you. You believe in Jesus even as you mourn the Christian family members and friends who have died in Christ.
And Jesus opened his mouth, and taught them as He is also now teaching you, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
Poor in spirit is a fruit of the first commandments. It is written, “You shall have no other gods. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. And, remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” By repentance and faith in Jesus before these commands, you are the poor in spirit.
Poor in spirit has with it the image of cringing; or the image of crouching like a beggar. And the poorness means more than a lack of something. It means nothing.
The poor in spirit recognize they have no power over the Holy Spirit. The poor in spirit cannot command the Holy Spirit to come or go at their will. The commandments show us we are poor.
But the Lord has authority to send the Holy Spirit. The Lord sends His Holy Spirit to the poor in spirit using His holy Word.
By means of God’s Word, you have received the Holy Spirit.
The Law shows you that you are poor and will never have authority over the Holy Spirit.
And yet, the Gospel shows you that by faith in Jesus - yours in the kingdom of heaven.
The blessing is yours now. You have access to heaven now by faith in Jesus. Heaven is open to you now even though it is not yet by sight. The kingdom of heaven is not an outward kingdom like the Kingdom of France or the Kingdom of Thailand. Rather, the Kingdom of Heaven reigns within you (Luke 17:21) which is an actual present possession. This kingdom is both a kingdom of grace and a kingdom of glory. It is the grace of heaven which is now your by faith in Jesus. The glory of heaven is not yet yours to experience but is partially experienced by the dead in Christ and will be for us all on the Day of Resurrection. This mornings epistle lesson says as much where it is written that “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
So the poor in spirit are even now rich toward God (Luke 12:21).
The riches you have by faith are the grace of God, the forgiveness of your sins, adoption as a child of God, sanctification, and “all the spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
Not that we are no longer poor in spirit. The commandments remind me that I don’t own these riches. Rather, we sin daily but Christ continually keeps us poor in spirit while receiving His riches by His grace; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.