Proper 29 / Last Sunday in the Church Year Trinity Lutheran Church
23 November 2008 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
1 Corinthians 15:20-28
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead!” Nothing more comforting than this. After all, you can’t take what’s left of your investment portfolio with you to the grave. By the time the Stock Market finishes its plummet, you may not even have an investment portfolio! Even the best of all health insurance and health care, the finest of all doctors and surgeons, cannot stop what will come to all of you. When your life starts coming to an end and when the end comes, there’s no more consoling fact that this: “But now Christ has been raised from the dead!”
Now there’s a Messiah! He is Jesus the Christ! He went deep into death. It swallowed Him whole. Dead and buried Jesus was. In Luke 24 on the road to Emmaus, Cleopas and his friend were very sad. “We had hoped that Jesus would redeem Israel. But now He’s dead. And all is lost.”
Wrong! Dead Wrong! “For Christ has been raised from the dead!” Jesus turned the tables on death. Made Himself known in the breaking of the bread. He died. He was buried. But now His is risen! He lives!
This fact is the all-controlling truth of all history. His resurrection does not do away with His Good Friday dying. No, it establishes it! You really are forgiven! Truly you are saved! Why? Because the raised from the dead Jesus died for you! He is risen! But His wounds are still showing!
Adam’s sin brought death to us all. But Jesus, the second and last Adam, the head of a new humanity, brings the resurrection to us all. Jesus is the “first fruits of those who are asleep” in the graves.
Death is a defeated enemy. A defeated power. When He rose from the grave that Easter Sunday, Jesus tore open death’s belly. He shattered death’s jaw into a million pieces.
And all of that for you. For your salvation. For your resurrection from death’s dark grave.
Baptized in Jesus’ Name – fed with His most holy Body and Blood – death cannot hold you!
Why? Because of First Fruits Jesus! “Because Jesus has been raised from the dead!”
He has taken the lead in the resurrection. First Jesus. And then on the Last Day when He separates you as sheep from the goats, you too. Raised in glory. Following His lead.
That’s why Christians who are buried in the cemetery are not called dead. They are called sleepers! “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits OF THOSE WHO ARE ASLEEP!” When you die and when we tuck you into bed for a final time in the cemetery, you are a sleeper who will surely rise again.
After all, people who sleep, are just lying down for a while but not forever. People who sleep wake up and rise again. So when Scripture uses the term “sleep” in reference to death, it indicates the future resurrection of your body on the Last Day.
After all, First Fruits Jesus, has already got the resurrection ball rolling. Christ, our Head, has risen. He is seated in glory at the Father’s right hand. You who cling to Jesus by faith will follow after Him as His body and His members. Where Head Jesus goes and lives, there you His body will all the members will follow and abide.
When a baby is born the head comes first. Then the body follows. Christ the Head has come out of death’s grave. And you, His body, follows.
No need to worry! You are safe and secure in Jesus. Whether in life or in death. When death comes and our body rots in the ground it is only a sleep. Soon the morning will come when First Fruits Jesus will say: “Time to get up you sleepy heads! It’s resurrection day! What you always had by faith in Me, now you see with your eyes and experience fully with all your senses! Enter and enjoy My Father’s kingdom!”
All for you now and always. Your future is in God’s hands. “For Christ has been raised from the dead!”
In the Name of Jesus.