September 11, 2016 Luke 7:11-17
You need to come to grips with the fact that you're gonna die. Someday, some way, this life is going to end. As you get older, perhaps you sense it more acutely. And perhaps as a defense mechanism, we don't worry about it when we're young. But there is no one here today who hasn't been affected by death. The world spends a lot of time trying to avoid the inevitable. Most preachers out there spend their time trying to avoid it, too, getting people wrapped up in what they're doing and how they're living. And then someone dies and they preach a bland sermon about the nice life of the deceased. But I'm telling you right now: this church, this body of Christ, this congregation is hospice care. You are here because you are dying. And more than that you need to recognize that death is not just "part of life." Death is the enemy. Death is hunting and stalking you. And there's only one thing that can stop death’s power.
Even when Jesus just happens to run into death, Jesus can't help fighting death. Jesus got dragged in to help Jairus' daughter when she died. Jesus was very deliberate when He stalled and then went to Lazarus' tomb. But today Jesus just runs into death. Jesus is going that way, and a funeral procession is coming the other way and they bump head on. That's how Jesus handles death: head on. And see how Jesus walks up to the woman, a widow who's already lost her husband and now her son to death. "Stop crying," Jesus says. Oh, that's nice! Like she can help it. Death brings tears. It's that simple. Well, Jesus is about to fix that. And without another word, without any discussion, without even any pleading from mom, Jesus strolls up to the coffin and tells the kid to get up. And the kid gets up. And death has received another slap.
Oh, but death will get revenge. On the Son of God! Wait 'til Jesus is brutally beaten and then nailed to that cross. Wait 'til Jesus bleeds and dies. But even then, death can only have Jesus when Jesus allows it.
When Jesus gives up His spirit. Then death can have Jesus.
But only for three days. On the third day, Jesus is alive.
Ok, death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? Done for! Jesus wins. Death loses. Jesus has conquered sin and therefore its consequence, death, has been neutralized.
The times when Jesus raised someone from the dead remind us that Jesus is Lord over death. That's a great consolation to the widow's who got their sons back.
But what about now? Why won't the Lord raise the dead today? But He does! Jesus raises the dead in Holy Baptism where Jesus’ death becomes your death. Where Jesus’ resurrection becomes your resurrection. You have already died. By water and Word at the font. There, your Old Adam has been drowned and the New Man has risen from the dead. A new creation. Even today without the water you still wake up in the morning with the promise of Chirst’s Holy Baptism therefore call upon Jesus to continue keeping in the a new creation.
Physical death, the end of life in this life is a reminder that this
world is passing away. You really would not want to come back into this
fallen world. You would not wish that on your loved ones as this world goes careening into self-destruction. Oh, sure, it's hard. Death is really
hard. Death is painful and sad. But consider this: In Holy Baptism, the author of life has the final say over your death. When you die some day, having already died and been raised in the waters of Holy Baptism, that death will be nothing other than like waking up from a nap into eternal life. Jesus has robbed death of its sting and power and instead turned it into a minor annoyance. The same Jesus who resurrected that boy and handed him to his mother has raised you up to life at the font and given you to your mother, the church.
And here, in Christ's church, Jesus has wetted and Worded your death into His death. Therefore, Jesus promises and guarantees that He will bodily resurrect you to eternal life on the Last Day.
So face facts. You're gonna die. But the bigger fact is that Jesus has made that no big deal. Because Jesus has taken care of death. Jesus has taken care of your death. For you, nothing but life in Jesus, forever and ever. May that be your comfort as you face off against death in this life, the comfort that death really does not have power over you, because of Jesus in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.