Sunday, June 6, 2010

How Jesus Deals with Death

Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 6, 2010
Luke 7:11-17

What if you had never heard of Jesus? What if you had never known Him, who He is, what He has done?

There are some who don’t. Some who never have. Some who are dead in their sins and go to their grave dead in their sins.

There are some who live but do not know life. They have never been raised to life that knows no death.

What if you had never known that you are dead, only to be without life forever, and death that knows nothing but torment?

There are many who do not know. Many who hope in many things but the one thing they need.

There are many who simply don’t know the one thing. Many who do not know Jesus. Once you die, that’s it. There is no more knowing, no more hope, no more opportunity.

But while you’re alive, the only requirement placed upon you is that you be dead. When you are dead even while you live you are ready for Christ to come to where you are and raise you from death.

We readily see the remarkable thing Jesus did in the Gospel reading: He raised a man from death. What is also remarkable is that He went to a town called Nain. Had you ever heard of it? Would we have ever known of the place except that Jesus decided to go there one day? And there He came across a man who could no more achieve eternal life than his pallbearers could or his grieving mother could. He was dead and he could only be carried away.

He then spoke to one of the people in the funeral. The mother of the dead man. A woman who was more like her son than she realized. She too was dead. She had no life within her that could ward off ultimate death. But that’s why He spoke to her. He comes to people who are bound in death to give them life.

He’s not bound by death. It can’t rub off on Him. That’s why He touches the coffin. He then speaks to the one person who can’t hear Him. He says to the dead man, “I say to you, arise.”

What happens then is what we need to see that happens to all who are dead in trespasses and sins and hear the Word of the Lord. The man hears. He is raised to life. He speaks. He has new life. We are just like him, we were dead and now we have new life. We are raised, we speak, we live.

As a congregation we do many things. They are offered because they’re for who we are as Christians. There are certain things we need to be encouraged to be a part of. If there’s no encouragement then we may miss the importance of being a part of it. One particular thing our congregation is doing is the Evangelism Workshop we’re having this Saturday. It’s not just for some people. It’s not only for those who are interested in Evangelism. It’s certainly not for those who have nothing else going on this Saturday. It’s for Christians. It’s for you and me. It’s for those of us who know who Jesus is and what He has done for the world.

If we had never known, we’d have no use for an Evangelism Workshop. But we have heard. We know. There are many out there who do not know and we’re the ones to tell them. If you’re like me you don’t always know what to say. If you’ve found yourself in the situation where a person takes the conversation in a different direction and you find you don’t know how to get it back to sharing the Gospel with the person, it’s for you. If you know people who don’t know who Jesus is, who don’t believe He is their Savior, it’s for you. Basically, if you’re a Christian.

You can’t go up to a dead man and tell him to get up. You can, but he won’t. But you can bring Christ to a person. What Jesus did to the man in the Gospel reading is what He does when you share the Gospel with another person. For Jesus, it’s the easiest thing in the world. He just goes up to a person and speaks life into that person. You and I aren’t quite there yet in our evangelistic abilities.

But we do have Christ. We do have His Word. We do have what He has given us. That is what we offer others. We let Jesus do the work.

Jesus was able to handle every situation that came His way. No matter what people said to Him, whatever turn the conversation went, Jesus always handled it in perfect divine wisdom. We do not have that luxury. But then again, it is never up to us to save others. We are simply called to make known to the world the Jesus who died for the world.

Maybe evangelism seems overwhelming to you. Perhaps living out the life God has called you to, where you are serving Him in everything you do, working toward giving more of your money as offerings to God, thinking that there’s not enough time for Bible Study, maybe it all seems like it’s too much. How can you handle it all? The world population keeps growing. Millions upon millions of people do not know Christ as their Savior. How can you as one Christian make an impact? How can our little congregation in Allied Gardens reach the world for Christ?

Let’s be brutally honest. It is overwhelming. It is more than we can handle. It is too much for us to accomplish. But we don’t need to give in. We need to repent. God hasn’t called you to bring the Gospel to every person on the planet. But He has given you a neighbor. He gives you a co-worker who is struggling in his life. God sent His Son into the world and on one particular occasion he came to one man. A man who was dead. A mother who needed comfort. On one particular occasion Jesus gave life to this one individual and we can see the opportunity God gives us to bring life to one person. How we do that is going to be different for each of us. It’s going to be challenging for many of us. But that’s why we offer help and guidance. Our Evangelism Workshop is exactly what we need so that we may bring to people the life they may not know.

You may think there’s not much you can do. But unless you’re a hermit, you come into contact with people in your life. When you talk with them you are not just yourself. You are Christ to them. You are a new creation, you have new life, because Jesus spoke it into you in your Baptism. When you interact with others they are interacting with Christ. You might wonder, how does that happen? That’s what the Evangelism Workshop is for. For some Christians this comes naturally. For most of us, it’s something we’d like to avoid as much as possible.

That’s because we ourselves are still daily struggling with our sinful flesh. We are dead. We daily need new life. If there’s anything we’re taught from that dead man at the funeral it’s that Jesus has a way of dealing with death. He gives new life to those who are dead in their sins. He speaks to us in our death and we rise to new life and begin speaking to others. Jesus deals with death by delivering us from it. He speaks life into us in our very state of being dead in trespasses and sins. Being dead is the only requirement for being alive in Christ. Because when you’re dead in sins there’s only one who can deliver you and bring you new life. He is Christ and He comes to do just that.

As He came to that man who was dead He has come to you in your Baptism. As He spoke comfort to the man’s mother He speaks comfort to you with His words: Take and eat, this is My body; take and drink, this is My blood. He comes into your life of being dead in sin and gives you His body and blood, given and shed for you, for the forgiveness of your sins. He gives you life and sustains you in the new life as you now live and speak and serve, even as you live forever with Him. Amen.


No comments: