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Trinity 16 – Luke 7:11-17

by pastorjuhl ~ September 26th, 2009

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

When the serpent opened his mouth in the Garden of Eden, death rushed out of his mouth. Our first parents heard death’s siren sound and bowed their knees. When God opened His mouth in the Garden of Eden, life rushed out of His mouth. Our first parents heard the promise of the Seed of the woman and believed in God’s promise of new life.

Jesus opens His mouth twice in today’s Holy Gospel. The first time He tells the widow Do not weep. The second time He says Young man, I say to you, arise. The first sentence comes off to our ears as off-putting. A widow, a woman who has already lost her husband to death, now loses her only son to death. Jesus’ response is for her not to weep. Crying is a normal and natural response to grief. Crying and funerals go hand in hand.

This funeral procession is different. Jesus interrupts the procession and, after speaking to the widow, touches the coffin. No wonder those who carried him stood still. Nobody touches the coffin of a dead person. Today’s funerals are a different story compared with funerals 2,000 years ago. High quality coffins allow us to touch the dead person’s resting place. When Jesus walked among us as a man, touching a coffin made a person ceremonially unclean. No one wanted to be near, let alone touch, someone who touched a dead man’s body. Who knows what kind of disease might linger on the corpse?

The fatal disease of sin is why there is such a thing as a corpse. We cry at funerals because death brings separation. We will no longer see the deceased this side of heaven if they were a Christian. If the deceased had no saving faith in Jesus Christ, our tears are much worse. What can be said about a person who believed death was death? What can be said about someone who would not believe in the life of the world to come?

It’s easy not to take the long view at a funeral of a Christian. Our sometimes hidden selfishness peeks out and wishes for another chance to say goodbye, or another round of golf, or one last hug and kiss before falling asleep. Why does God allow death on His timetable and not ours? Why does death visit some families more frequently than others? We think of the Joseph Kennedy family who lost two sons in less than five years. We think of other families who have lost more than one child prematurely. We also think of widows who outlive their husband and children.

Take another long look at death, especially the death of the widow’s son. There you and I will be, unless the Lord returns soon. We will all lay in a coffin. Our mortal remains will go from church to cemetery, waiting for the resurrection of all flesh on Judgment Day. That last clause is the one we forget about at a funeral. We focus on not seeing the deceased again or wanting to see the deceased again for closure that we forget about the dead in Christ rising on Judgment Day at the sound of Christ’s voice.

Jesus’ voice brings a dead son back to life. Jesus says, Young man, I say to you, arise. So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother. What mother, having lost her husband and her only son, would not rejoice at having her dead son return to life? What Christian, having lost a family member or friend who trusted in Jesus for forgiveness and life, would not rejoice believing the dead in Christ shall rise?

Sometimes it takes a Christian funeral to remind us of the joy of the resurrection. A pillar of my home congregation died a while back. My mother, who doesn’t care to attend wakes and funerals, told me she left church after his funeral with a smile on her face. Her comment surprised me, but it really didn’t surprise me. Mom’s comment surprised me because she doesn’t like funerals because of being confronted with mortality. Mom’s comment didn’t surprise me because it’s acceptable for a Christian to grieve a loved one’s death, yet rejoice in believing that we will see that loved one when Christ returns. For Christians it’s never farewell but see you at the next meeting.

Who would’ve thought the next meeting would be so soon? The dead son sits up and starts talking. What did he say? Scripture doesn’t tell us. Perhaps it was a psalm much like Psalm 86: You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You. Our Lord’s steadfast love brings life to the dead. Our Father’s steadfast love sends Jesus Christ among us as a man to live the life Adam was meant to live. Adam was created in the image and likeness of God: pure, holy, and sinless. Jesus is God and man. Three times Jesus raises people from the dead in the Gospels. First, it was the daughter of Jairus. Then the widow of Nain’s son rises from the dead. Finally, Jesus’ friend Lazarus rises after four days in the tomb. All three times Jesus spoke a word and the dead comes back to life.

Jesus speaks seven words upon the cross. One of those words was It is finished. Jesus’ work of restoring creation was finished. Death and life contended in combat stupendous. The Prince of Life, once dead, rises from the dead a new creation. Satan’s power is destroyed. Forgiveness of sins and eternal life is ours because of Jesus.

Jesus speaks words to us every Lord’s Day. These words mean what they say and say what they mean. Jesus speaks through men consecrated for speaking His Word amidst His people. When pastors speak absolution, it is as if Jesus Christ Himself stands before you forgiving your sins. When pastors speak the sermon, it is as if Jesus Christ Himself stands in the pulpit proclaiming victory over sin and death. When pastors distribute the Lord’s Supper, it is as if Jesus Christ Himself feeds you His true Body and true Blood. When pastors baptize, it is as if Jesus Christ Himself washes you clean from sin and death in baptismal waters. Jesus presents us to our mother the Church as a new creation bought with blood, washed in water, fed and nourished in preaching and the Supper, sustained in His Word through death into life everlasting.

What joy came to the village of Nain that day when the widow’s son returned to life. What joy comes to us in Momence each weekend when our Savior from death to life does exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

1 Response to Trinity 16 – Luke 7:11-17

  1. Charles James

    Yes we must proclaim that death and sin have been conquered. Everything negative and dehumanising has been conquered. Our sins are forgiven. We can live as Church and not be afraid of temptations to sin or our flawed nature.

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