Sunday, November 11, 2007

"The God of the Baptized"

Third-Last Sunday of the Church Year
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Luke 20:27-40

The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. You may know someone like that. When you die, that’s it. You cease to exist. The Sadducees tried to trap Jesus: So if what you’re saying is really true, that there’s life after death, then how will this woman be the wife of all seven men since she was married to each of them?

We believe in the resurrection. We believe in heaven. But we have questions, too, don’t we? Why would God give us marriage for this lifetime only to take it away in the age to come? Why do we love and cherish our spouse only to have that end at death? What will our relationships with each other be in heaven?

God established marriage so that humanity could reflect the communion of God—He is a relational God. Marriage was also given to multiply and fill the earth. Because of the fall, God also established marriage so that we may receive the promise of a Savior in the seed of the woman. Specifically for Christians, marriage reflects that spiritual union of Christ and His bride, the Church, who now waits for His return in glory.

Even though we don’t deny the resurrection and heaven, we can’t comprehend its glory. Even if we were to think of the most spectacular thing we could imagine, that wouldn’t come close to describing the perfection of heaven. Spouses who are sad that they won’t be married in heaven are sad because of their love for each other, even as they are not realizing that in heaven their love for each other will be even better than it is now because it will be perfect. God hasn’t made it this way to take away our joy and love for each other but to increase it.

Similar to marriage, we rejoice that God gives us parents. We certainly aren’t aware of the care they give us when we’re infants. But when we grow up, especially if we have our own children, we are grateful for all the energy our parents spent in caring for us. Tatum and Noah don’t know anything that’s going on today or since they’ve been born, but they sure are being loved and cared for by their parents.

Yet, when they’re in heaven, their immediate relationship with their parents will not be as daughter and son but as brother and sister in Christ. What would we do in this life without our parents? Who would take care of us, especially in those first years where we’re unable to take care of ourselves? Not only does God provide for us by giving us parents, as Christians He also gives us a picture of the love our Heavenly Father has for us. How He provides for us spiritually and eternally. We are sons and daughters of the eternal God.

You see, the resurrection from death changes everything. We weren’t created to die. Sin brought about our death. Sadly, we live in that spiritual death by continuing to sin. We need to be delivered from that. That’s why God will raise us from our grave on the Last Day. That’s why Jesus conquered the grave in His resurrection.

Though we may not like to admit it, we too often are like the Sadducees when our thoughts are more on the things of this world rather than the life of glory to come. When we’re born, we’re born into sin. That’s why God gives us new birth. That’s why rejoice today with Tatum and Noah. They’ve been given new birth in Baptism. The way Jesus says it in the Gospel reading is this: “those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead.” Baptism is how we are considered to be worthy by God and how we attain to the resurrection from the dead.

What Jesus said is true: God is not the God of the dead but of the living. We could say it this way: He is not the God of the dead but of the Baptized. You once were dead—dead in your sins. Now you are alive! Alive in Christ. Alive forever. Because God is eternal and has given you life that is eternal. You will see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob face to face. You will see your Christian parents face to face. You will see all your loved ones in Christ face to face because death cannot hold you. Your sin cannot hold you. Christ put it all to death. And death could not hold Him. He is alive forever and that’s why true life is in Him.

There’s quite a contrast to these two babies here today and those Christians who have lived a long life on this earth. Growing comes with trials and struggles against sin. In other words, we Christians are facing death every day until we get to heaven. The struggle against our sinful flesh is a struggle against spiritual death.

Part of the problem is that it may not seem like such a serious matter. Today in our country we observe Veterans Day. Talk to a veteran who has come face to face with death. When you’ve come face to face with death the rest of your life takes on a whole new meaning. When we begin to see that our struggle with sin is coming face to face with death our Baptism takes on a whole new meaning.

That’s what we need to see in our Baptism. God is not the God of the dead but of the living. Since we have new life—eternal life—in Baptism, He is the God of the Baptized. When you wonder what is to come beyond this life, look to your Baptism—God is the God of the Baptized. When you struggle with the things of this life—sin, trials, doubts—remember your Baptism, God is the God of the Baptized.

Once you were dead in sin. Baptized into Christ you have life and are His child forever. He is not the God of the dead but of the living. You are Baptized. He is your God forever. Amen.


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