All Saints (Observed)
All Saints’ Day (Observed) Trinity Lutheran Church
4 November 2007 Murdock, NE
Some of you have lost loved ones or friends recently. Maybe not so recently. Death may soon come to a loved one or a dear friend. Where are those who believe in Jesus after they die? What are they up to? Would you like to know? Of course you do.
The Book of Revelation answers it. First of all, when a believer dies, he/she doesn’t become an angel. Humans do not turn into angels that watch over us after death. Angels are part of God’s invisible creation. Humans are part of God’s visible creation. Secondly, they’re not ghosts who haunt houses Halloween style. Thirdly, even though they’ve died, they’re alive. Dead but alive. Alive in Christ. You remember Jesus’ promise: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”?
Revelation 7 shows this fact of Jesus’ promise. “I looked and behold a great multitude which no one could count.” So much for heaven being empty. So much for the salvation of only a few. The Good Friday victory of Jesus is immense. Enormous. John sees an innumerable multitude “from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongue.” The Lord Jesus didn’t just die for a few people. He died for all you know. And those who believe in Him are there with Him.
God’s enemies try to flee from His presence. To hide from Him. In any nook and cranny. Adam and Eve hid in the bushes after they tried to dethrone God. But in heaven the redeemed believers don’t hide. They’re “standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” The Lamb is Jesus. In His presence. Not floating on clouds. Not haunting houses or forests. They’re smack dab before the Lord. Welcomed by the Lamb. His Good Friday Blood has washed their robes and made them white with His forgiveness.
This is life in the fullest. All is restored. Every relationship healed. With God and with one another. All is “very good” once again thanks to the Lamb’s very good, Good Friday death for the forgiveness of sins. And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and SALVATION.
The redeemed are wearing, “white robes.” The garments for those who’ve been died for. Can’t get into Christ’s wedding party without them. White = purity. White = holiness. Robed in the purity and holiness of Jesus. That’s how they can stand before the throne and not get obliterated or incinerated. Insist on wearing something different and heaven’s bouncer will show you the door.
In their hands are palm branches. That’s what you have in your hands when you’re in the presence of Jesus. Remember Palm Sunday? The celebration of God’s salvation in Jesus on the Week we call holy.
And what are they up to? Sleeping? Playing golf? Chopping wood? Home improvement projects. No. They worship God. You can feel the walls of the new Jerusalem shake as this mega congregation from every nation, tribe, people and tongue cry out as one: “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.”
No talk in heaven about how well you did before you died. Or what an outstanding person you were. Jesus is the star of the show. He’s the Savior. “Salvation [belongs] to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb.” Salvation is the Lord’s. And He gives it out for free.
And then more praise. Not just the massive mob from every nation, all tribes, peoples and tongues. This a mega, mega church. Massively mega. Joining in on the worship are the millions of angels. The 24 elders who represent the whole people of God. The four living creatures who represent the entire created universe: the people, animals, the hills, the seas, the rivers, the stars and space.
And the praise goes on day and night. It never stops. You see, when you’ve come out of the great tribulation of this life with deadly sin and its deadly evil consequences, you can have time for full time faith in God and the Lamb. No more time outs for lunch and water breaks. No more eking out an existence by the sweat of your brow under the burning rays of a red-hot sun in the weed infested cursed ground. No more tears because of the failures and losses to evil or because of the shame and humiliation from sin.
For Lamb Jesus is the shepherd of this mega-mega church. Provides water for eternal life. He is the center of the
universe. Both in heaven and on earth. The Savior who has reconciled all things in heaven and on earth to His Father.
So where are the believers in Jesus who have died and await the resurrection of the body on the Last Day?
They are where they’ve always been. Alive in Christ. Alive with Christ. Alive around Christ. He’s got them safe and sound. Held eternally in His wounded Hands.
They didn’t have to wait until they died to go to heaven and be with Christ. They always were. Chosen in Christ by the Father before the creation of the world. Then Jesus took them into His death at Calvary. And then after they were born Jesus hooked them with His death and resurrection in Holy Baptism. Heaven came to them in their Baptism. Heaven came to them in the Lord’s Supper. And now they’re still in heaven. In, with and under Christ. Very much alive: in Christ. It’s just that they are waiting for the resurrection of the body on the Last Day.
Until then, the worship and praise of heaven is united with our worship and praise here on earth at the Lord’s Supper. In the Sacrament we stand before the Lamb and His throne as forgiven sinners. We are held safe in His wounded Hands too. And with Him at this altar throne are all the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven — our loved ones, our friends, all who have believed in Jesus from the beginning of the world: Adam, Eve, Abel, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdelene, ect. If only our eyes could see. But it’s true.
Let us pray. “Lord Jesus Christ, let your holy Supper be my heaven on earth until I enter heaven.” In the Name of Jesus. Amen.