PENTECOST 25, C – November 10, 2013

SCRIPTURES – Psalm 115; Exodus 3:1-15; 2 Thess. 2:1-17; Luke 20:27-40 

That the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” Luke 20 

Monday is Veterans’ Day. It is a day to remember and honor the faithful service of those who have served in our military. There will be many ceremonies and remembrances. Many veterans will be honored. Sadly, there will also be many veterans who will be forgotten. It is impossible for us to remember everyone.

Not one of His people is forgotten by God – ever. To be remembered by God is to truly live, for it is to live with Him now and forever. Today’s Scriptures proclaim life in God after this life. He raises His dead. The reality of being remembered by God after death and so being raised by Him to live forever with Him gives ultimate purpose and meaning.

The resurrection from the dead gives purpose and meaning to this life. Much that happens in this life is not understood right now. It does not seem just or right.

  • Jesus is asked about a woman who marries 7 brothers, one after another, after each dies. That would probably never happen. But, the death of a young spouse happens. It certainly does not seem right and raises many questions.

When God raises His dead to eternal life all will be made right. Oh, things will not be as they are now – there will be no marriage, for instance, no uniting with one to the exclusion of others – but all things will be perfectly good and right, for we will be one in Christ. There will be no injustice, no separation, no sadness and no confusion. Jesus promises:

  • “Those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”

This life is what we have awaiting us. This is ours in Christ. What hope and comfort this gives!

The resurrection of the dead gives purpose and meaning to faith and worship. If we die and are buried in the ground and are no more, then all the words of the Bible that we listen to and hold on to would be a deceit and a lie, and all that we do in worship would be a fantasy, mere show. Religion would be “the opium of the people,” as Karl Marx said. Psalm 115, our Introit, proclaims the truth about our faith and worship: “The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” Here in worship the reality of the resurrection is not only proclaimed. It is given. The Lord, the I AM who is life itself and in whom all live, is present to fill us with His eternal life. Our praise here is joined with the praise of the veterans of faith who are in heaven, for God unites us. His life swallows up death, and heaven and earth, time and eternity, are united as one.

In a sense, the resurrection of the dead also gives ultimate purpose and meaning to God, for the resurrection is the culmination of His purpose and love and presence in our lives. If there is no resurrection from death, then God is dead – at least, dead to us or toward us. If we are not raised then God has no ultimate power for us.

Thankfully, God is not lacking in power; nor in love and mercy and forgiveness and life. I AM is His name. He is living and active, and so is not the God of the dead but of the living. We who believe in Him live in Him, and He in us. Our lives will never be ended, then, not even by death! And, after death, what a life we will be given! Our Lord Jesus tells us: “Those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” Equal to angels and sons of the living God – who among us here can know how incredible that life will be? Who among us sinners is worthy of this?

Who, indeed? How wrong, how sinful a denial of God, are our thoughts and desires when considered in the light of the resurrection!

  • We judge the life to come by comparing it to this life. We hope that heaven will be more than worship because we easily get bored with worship here; or, that it would be unjust to not be married to your earthly spouse. 
  • We speak more of yearning to see loved ones in heaven than of yearning to see the Lord Jesus Himself! 
  • We get angry with God for not preventing someone’s death – as if life in this world is better than life with God in heaven! We hang onto this life.

Who of us sinners, who are so focused on this life, is worthy of God’s life? Not one of us.

We need the living God, who speaks life into the dead, to speak His life, with its wisdom and joy, into us unworthy sinners who are dead in sin. Listen to and rejoice in what 2 Thess. 2 says: “From the beginning God chose you for salvation in the sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Do not listen to your own or the world’s wisdom, and so doubt your resurrection or the blessing of it. Listen to your God, the I AM who comes in mercy! He chose you in Christ His Son, whom He sent to die on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins in your place, and then to rise from the dead and so bring forth for you life from death. He calls you to faith in the crucified and risen Jesus by His Word. Do you believe what the Bible says? Do you desire to turn from your sinful desires to follow what it says? This is evidence that His Holy Spirit is in you and is making you holy. He has given you the gift of life with Christ! “So then, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.”

Jesus said essentially the same thing after He rose from the dead: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to hold to everything that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20) This is what we are now to do: to listen to, learn, hold onto, and follow Christ’s words. As we do, we have His promise: “Behold, I AM with you always, to the end of the age” – when you will be raised to “obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2). God keep us in this resurrection faith, unto life everlasting!