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Walther on Trinity 16 – Luke 7:11-17

by pastorjuhl ~ September 13th, 2010

Why is especially the story of our today’s Gospel so frightful for all unbelievers? Because it cuts off all excuses for their unbelief. Through this resurrection Christ has proven that he is whom he said he was, the Son of the living God; when a prophet did a miracle, he did it in the name of God or Christ, never in his own. Christ however says: “Young man, I say unto thee, arise.” He did this miracle in his own name and thereby confirmed that word: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). “Ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1b). This is certain: Whoever can awaken a dead person by his own power must be the true God and eternal Life itself.

For all people, angels, and all creatures, death is an invincible power. Only he who possesses the almighty power of the Creator can take away again the decomposition which has entered into all the cells of the body; only he can restore the organic union which was dissolved; only he can return the flowing blood into its previous life-giving course; only he can bring back the departed soul into the body and reunite the bond between both which had been torn; in a word, only he can conquer death and restore life. Everyone perceives that.

Therefore, we hear that when Christ had awakened Lazarus from the dead, the assembled chief priests and Pharisees hurriedly took counsel and said: “What do we? For this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him” (John 11:47b-48a). They therefore took counsel to kill him. The unbelieving Pharisees and chief priests of the goddess of reason of our day also know that the miracles of the unusual awakening of the dead are the strongest proof of Christ’s divinity. They have also held a counsel of blood against Christ and decided: Christ must once again die; he must die in the hearts of all Christians. In our day they do that again by insolently denying all his miracles.

Will Christ die in that way, however? He who dwells in the heavens laughs at them; he Lord mocks them. He who with his Word could awaken the young man at Nain from the deep sleep of death, his Word will and must prevail in spite of the opposition and raging of all his foes; for he has said: “Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
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Ponder, my dear Christian, how great, how irresistible his power must be against whom even the might of death itself is merely weakness! Do you have reason to be worried that the host of Christ’s enemies will in our day finally erase his Church from the earth? Ah, no; Christ has hitherto so powerfully protected his Church that it cannot go down; moreover, he will also do it; he will rescue his honor and foil all the weak who revolt against him. Therefore, if you are weak in your faith, go in spirit to Nain, see how Christ himself seizes death by its jaws, and took his booty from him; rejoice that you believe in such a great Savior, who speaks and it is done, who commands and it stands fast.

And, my dear Christian, if you are attacked by your sins, if you are anxious for comfort because of your misdeeds, return quickly to Nain; there you will find comfort. Bear in mind that he who can conquer death must also be the Lord of sin; for death is the payment of sin, and sin is the sting of death. Therefore, in firm faith hold fast to Jesus Christ; in him you will find the forgiveness of all your sins, in him victory over all the foes of your soul, in him grace, life, and salvation.

If you are frightened of death, if you must weep at the grave of your loved ones, you also hurry in spirit to Nain. Jesus Christ, who turned tears of sorrow into tears of joy, can also dry your tears. As certainly as the widow again embraced her dear son, so through Christ’s miraculous power you must someday also joyfully embrace your loved one who died in the faith. A blessed morning will come when Christ will say to all his own on a new earth and in a new heaven: Weep not! All sorrow is now ended; I have conquered for you; rejoice with me; there will be no more separation, no more departure.

Finally, my dear Christian, if the thought of your own last hour worries you, take the Word of Christ into your heart: “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” Behold, as at this word death fled and life returned, so Christ has destroyed also your death and brought life and immortality to light also for you. Just fall peacefully asleep; Jesus watches; you will some day awaken, and then there will be no more death for the first death will be gone. Hallelujah! Amen.

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