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The Importance of the Resurrection OF THE BODY!

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Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany           Trinity Lutheran Church

17 February 2019                                    Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

 

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

 

Something sinister is afoot at the Christian church in Corinth and in the Christian churches of America. An essential teaching of the Christian faith is being flat out denied! What in the world could that be? Glad you asked. Answer: THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY!  

 

Most of the Greeks of Paul’s day and sadly, most Americans of today do not believe in the resurrection of the body! Can’t! Won’t! Remember the scholarly and intellectual philosophers in Athens? They laughed St. Paul off of Mars Hill, prepared to fit him with a straight jacket and lock him in a rubber room when he emphatically proclaimed the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the graveyard on the Third Day! The Athenian pin heads and Greco wig heads were willing to give Paul a hearing UNTIL he preached Jesus’ bodily resurrection on the third day.

 

After his bodily resurrection sermon, they had no use for preacher Paul and his Christian message of salvation that includes the salvation of not just the soul but also THE BODY! The Greeks of the ancient world divorced or compartmentalized what God unites. However, God creates body and soul. He loves both body and soul so much so that in Jesus the body and soul are Good Friday-ly redeemed and atoned for. The Holy Spirit holies both the body and soul in Word and sacrament by which He delivers Calvary’s forgiveness.

 

The Greeks, however, separated body and soul. Divorced them from each other. So too today! Many Americans, even within the church, have been greek-ed in that they see they body as some kind of prison house that hinders the eternal progress of the soul to some kind of Nirvana. So the goal of one’s authenticity who has been greek-ed is to shed the body – get rid of it for good — dispose of it forever — so that the soul can be set free for an eternal non-bodily, non-physical existence. With such a presupposition, the resurrection of the body is meaningless, foolishness, stupidity.

 

Pastor Paul addresses this huge theological problem. In verses 1-11 St. Paul gave the hard evidence that over 500 individuals saw Jesus who bodily – physically – rose from the dead! The resurrected body of Jesus was a real flesh and blood human body that could be seen, touched, and that ate and drank. A real body that bore the wounds of the Good Friday crucifixion!

 

The resurrection is much more than a “spiritual” thing. It is also a physical and bodily thing! It involves body and soul, matter and spirit. And what God has joined together we must not separate with our clever reason or philosophy.

 

Can you imagine confessing the Creed without confessing the resurrection of the body? Suppose for a moment that there is no resurrection of the dead. Suppose that dead bodies do not rise from the grave. What does this mean for you?

 

I’ll be frank. Blunt. There is no Christianity – there is no salvation — without Easter! Paul puts it this way: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain … And if Christ has not been raised your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

 

It’s really quite simple. If Jesus is not raised, then my preaching is empty and your faith in Jesus is empty. In other words, we are all wasting our time here this morning. If Jesus did not physically rise on the Third Day, I should have become a PGA golfer instead of going to the seminary to be a pastor. And you would have done better to stay at home today, pull the covers over your head, catch a couple of extra hours of shut eye, pour yourself another cup of coffee, check out Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, do some housework, and schedule future youth athletic practices and games for every Sunday and all day on Sundays.

 

If there is no resurrection of the body then the 60% of Americans that claim to be Christian but never attend church are absolutely right in their thinking. In other words, what you believe in your heart has absolutely nothing to do with your body. On Sunday or any other day! If there is no resurrection of the body, then there is no need for Jesus to die and rise bodily, no need for water to be applied to the body in baptism, no need for a spoken Word of forgiveness to be proclaimed from a mouth into ears and hearts, no need to orally eat bread and wine nor plop your bodies in a church pew. All those things go on with the body! If there is no resurrection, you can have spiritual life divorced from your bodily life.

 

If there is no resurrection of the body and if Jesus has not been raised, then the preaching of the gospel is worthless, meaningless, utter stupidity! What I preach every Sunday then is utter nonsense. Worse than that, it’s all a huge lie! “Misrepresenting God.” If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we have been fooled by a 2000 year-old hoax! We have been euchered by the biggest scam and longest running lie in the world’s history. The worst FAKE NEWS campaign ever! If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then we have been deceiving people about God and holding out false hope to the dying.

 

If the dead are not raised and if Jesus has not been raised, then your trust in Him is misplaced and meaningless. How can you be sure that His Good Friday death on the cross was acceptable to God? How can you be confident that Jesus was God’s Son come to save you? Without the resurrection, you have no assurance at all that Jesus is your Savior from sin and death! Without Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus is no different from Buddha, Mohammed or any other religious leader. If Jesus did not rise from the grave, then you really should pick the world religion or modern philosophy that floats your boat because they all stand on equal footing.

 

If matter and spirit, body and soul are divorceable, then what goes on with your body has nothing to do with your spiritual life. In other words, you can believe one thing and then do the opposite. You can be a Christian on the inside and live any way you want on the outside. “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die,” is the Greek proverb that Paul quotes. If you’ve been greek-ed and deny the resurrection of the body, then you have to grab all the gusto you can at the moment. Or, if it feels good, do it! Nothing matters so long as there is no bodily resurrection.

 

However, Christianity is all about THE BODY! Jesus cares for the body. Look again at the gospel reading. He’s busy healing bodies riddled with diseases and troubled by evil spirits. On the cross He offers His body sacrificially to redeem your body.

 

In addition, Jesus really did rise from the dead BODILY! Physically! And in Him all the dead will rise. So, what goes on with the body matters deeply! That’s why Paul reminds the Corinthians and all of you to flee from sexual immorality because it is a sin against your own body. He warns the Corinthians and all of us that we must all appear before the judgment seat of God to give an account of what we have done in the BODY. He reminds the Corinthians and all of us that we have been redeemed with a Good Friday price, the BODY of God’s Son nailed to the cross. “Therefore, glorify God in your BODY,” (1 Cor. 6:18, 20; 2 Cor. 5:10)!

 

What you do with your body is important. However, what God does with your body is more important! Salvationally important! He baptizes your body into Jesus’ death and resurrection life. He puts His divine and saving Name on you like a brand or tattoo in holy baptism. He speaks His Word for forgiveness into your ears and heart. He feeds your body with the Body and Blood of His Son. God claims your body as His dwelling place. His temple! He honors your body with His presence and He works through your body, your mouth, hands and feet to bless others with your self-sacrificial service of love. And though your body will one day fail, die and decay, God has promised to raise your body and restore it. He has sealed that promise in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Because Jesus has risen, you too will rise!

 

In addition, Jesus’ resurrection is His vindication and your justification. His resurrection is the Father’s seal of approval of His Good Friday sacrificial and atoning work! By raising Jesus from the grave, God the Father showed the world that He is pleased with what Jesus did on the cross FOR YOU. The Father accepts His Son’s death as the redemption price for the world. That your sin (all of it) is covered by His Blood shed on the cross!

 

Jesus is the first-fruits of the dead. He has done what no one else has ever done, namely, die and rise from the grave. He alone is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the only Way to eternal life! Why? Because He alone has risen from the dead! Jesus alone can be trusted with your death because He alone has conquered death by pulling off a Good Friday and an Easter Sunday never to die again! DEATH NO LONGER HAS MASTERY OVER HIM. And, death no longer has mastery over you that believe in Him!

 

Let me say it again. Because Jesus’ tomb is empty He covers all your sin. You are forgiven. You are redeemed. And your body will be raised for eternal life on the Last Day.

 

So what is the worst that can happen to you? What is the worst that people can do to you? What is there left to fear in this world if death has been defeated? Poverty? Sickness? Violence? Persecution? Cancer? Hunger? There is nothing to fear! Because Jesus is the first-fruits of those that sleep!

 

Consequently, your life now has meaning! There is meaning to suffering, to sorrow, to sickness. After all, Jesus preached it this way in Luke today: “Blessed are you who are poor, hungry, weep, hated, excluded, reviled and spurned.” Why? Because you have everything to look forward to, everything to hope for, everything to receive. “Your reward is great in heaven.”

 

Your future is bright. Filled with hope. Brimming with promise. Do not despair. Jesus has been raised from the dead the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. And you – the baptized believer – will rise bodily “just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.” In the Name of Jesus.

 

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Simon’s word? Or Jesus’ Word?

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Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany                   Trinity Lutheran Church

10 February 2019                                            Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Luke 5:1-11

Baptism of Arthur Watson Borst

 

The rejected and run out of Nazareth Town Preacher named Jesus high tails it from Capernaum to the shore of Lake Gennesaret. From there the thrown-out-of-His-hometown-Preacher dares to categorically tell a professional fisherman Simon what to do when it comes to fishing: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

 

Expert Angler Simon lets Jesus in on a little secret. He’s really quite polite and patient. He could have blown his stack and let the Preacher have it. Instead: “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!”

 

So, there’s the Preacher’s Word: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Implying: Trust ME. Then there’s the word of the licensed, bonded and certified fisherman: “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” Implying: I’m the casting and trawling expert. I’ve done this all my life. I own Big Water Adventure Fishing with James and John. No, I didn’t say Jimmy Houston or Babe Winkelman. Houston and Winkelman are JV team compared to my fishing buddies and me! Night fishing is when you catch fish. And you certainly don’t throw the nets into the deep water! Even an idiot knows that!

 

Jesus’ Word. Simon’s word. At first Simon thinks he has better words than the Lord. “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!”

 

However, then Simon Peter declares: “But at your word I will let down the nets.”

 

Even though it goes against all his manly reason, fishing expertise and testosterone know-how Simon will do as Jesus says. Trust a lifetime of fishing logic and knowledge? Or trust Jesus and His Word?

 

I wonder if Simon Peter decided to let down the nets just to prove that the Preacher was a fool, an imbecile, or a moron. Or is Simon putting all His trust in Jesus and what Jesus says? Even when it comes to fishing? Let’s run with that! Let’s put the best construction on Simon’s remark. I like that better. Simon Peter submits all his fishing expertise and knowledge to the Word of Jesus.

 

“But at your word I will let down the nets.” That’s the faith point!

 

“At your word!” This is remarkable! Astonishing! Joyfully so! Remember what we’ve been hearing the last three weeks this Epiphany season? What’s been the theme of this year’s Epiphany season? We’re on episode 5 this week! Jesus speaks, teaches and preaches THE WORD with AUTHORITY!

 

In today’s text the Word of Jesus is the entire reason why people are gathered around Him (5:1). It’s why they are His hangers on! His trust-ers! His faith-ers! The authoritative Word of Jesus commandeered Peter’s boat (5:3). The authoritative Word of Jesus creatively produced – against all human reason and all angling knowhow — a huge catch of fish (5:4-7)! The authoritative Word of Jesus removed Peter’s immense fear when he fell at Jesus’ feet desperately aware of his utter sinfulness in the presence of the Lord of lords and King of kings who graciously and abundantly gives to an undeserving wretch like him (5:8)!

 

The authoritative Word of Jesus summoned Simon, James and John into the apostolic ministry (5:10). The authoritative Word of Jesus produced in these three fishermen the ready will to leave everything behind (family, work, friends, fish, etc.) and follow Jesus in order to be used by Jesus to fish in a different way. A salvific fishing expedition! To salvationally catch or net sinners in the mesh of the gospel – the preaching that Jesus alone is the Savior of all sinners!

 

Now, let’s back up just a bit. At first Simon called Jesus “master.” Then after the miraculous catch of fish because of the Word of Jesus, Peter calls Him “Lord.” Jesus is LORD! Simon’s life was never the same again!

 

And His authoritative Word is what still runs His church. Consequently, little Arthur Watson was brought for holy baptism according to whose Word? Yes, that’s right! Christ the Lord’s! His Matthew 28:19 Word!

 

When it comes to holy baptism we listen only to Lord Jesus. When He mandates that all nations be baptized in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we do it. As He bids us do. Even though all science, reason and experience tell us that holy baptism does and gives nothing. We instead listen to Preacher Jesus. He mandates it. So, like Simon, we say: “But at Your Word we will receive holy baptism.” At Your Word we have brought Arthur Watson for holy baptism.

 

That’s the faith point. Trusting in Jesus and His Word!

 

Then when we hear what Jesus abundantly and graciously gives in holy baptism, we’re blown away – JOYFULLY! In holy baptism God gives His Name. Did you hear that? I said that in holy baptism God gives His NAME!

 

The NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one of the most important gifts anyone can ever be given! The divine gift of the TRIUNE NAME is what God Himself bestows in holy baptism.

 

The Holy Trinity is actually and really there – GOD FOR YOU – as He gives you His NAME at the font. After all, God’s Name is synonymous with God Himself!   When he gives you His Name He promises to be God for you and to always act as God for you. Not just passively being God for you as if He’s just twiddling His thumbs BUT actively giving Himself and all that He is FOR YOU in holy baptism.

 

With His Name in holy baptism God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit promise to be God FOR YOU and to bless you with salvation.

 

Yes, that’s right! I said it! Salvation. The “s” verb and God’s Name always go together. I’ll give you a few examples. Again note the “s” verb goes with God’s Name. Psalm 54:1 says: “O God, SAVE ME BY YOUR NAME.” Joel 2:32 is quoted by Peter in Acts 2:21. It says: “Everyone that calls on the NAME of the Lord shall be SAVED.” John 20:31 promises: “that by believing you may have life in his name.” Life here equals salvation! And salvation is in Jesus’ Name! In Acts 4:12 Peter preaches this: “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other NAME under heaven given among men by which we must be SAVED.”  One more for good measure. It’s Acts 10:43. Again, it’s another sermon from Peter. “To Jesus all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his NAME.” Forgiveness is equivalent to salvation!

 

It’s no surprise then that since God gives His Name in holy baptism He blesses folks with the salvation that Jesus Good Friday-ly earned and won for all. In addition, it’s really no surprise that Jesus promises in Mark 16:16 that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” and that Paul in Titus 3 extols the gift of holy baptism by declaring that God “saved us through the washing and rebirth by the Holy Spirit,” and that Peter in 1 Peter 3 says that just as God saved Noah and his family, eight people in all, through the flood water – so too now “baptism saves you … through the resurrection of Jesus.”

 

There you have it. The Lord’s Word: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon did! And what an epiphany! Preacher Jesus is the “Lord!” Simon’s confession that Jesus is not just “master” but “Lord” is our confession too! We’ve been given more to see than a huge catch of fish! With His Mt. 28:19 Word, “make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” the Lord Jesus has given you and today gave little Arthur Watson His divine and saving name. Again, I repeat, when God gives His name He delivers Christ’s Good Friday salvation.

 

Jesus has netted you. Saved you and Arthur Watson. He says so. And your life is never the same again! What a wonderful epiphany!

 

Thank you Lord Jesus!

 

 

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