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Pentecost 2 / Proper 5

June 9, 2007

Second Sunday after Pentecost        Trinity Lutheran Church
10 June 2007                                        Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

Luke 7:11-17

A procession.  No, not the whimpering Paris Hilton back to jail procession.  Something much more serious.  A funeral procession.  The only son of a widow woman will soon be buried.  Laid to rest.  She’s already lost her husband.  Now her only son has died.  What grief.  What heartache.  What anguish.  Some of you know that kind of sadness.

Jesus comes across this procession by Nain’s town gate.  Watch out everyone!  I give you fair warning.  Jesus is in the habit of ruining funerals.  Will he spoil this one too? 

He has profound pity on this widow.  His heart goes out to her.  “Do not weep.”   Easy for Him to say.  How can she not bawl?  Her only son is dead.  Doesn’t God care?  Why?  Why?  Why?  It’s not supposed to happen this way.  Mothers should die before their children. 

God cares.  And He’s right there before her very eyes.  Jesus.  He’s the Lord in the flesh.  To Him has been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  “So, dear woman, don’t cry.  I’m here.  I see your sorrow.  I hear your prayers.  I’m her to help.”  

The Lord Jesus goes right up to the open casket.  Then the unthinkable!  The inconceivable! “What’s He doing?  He’s going to ruin everything!  Don’t do that!”  He does.  He touches it.  And everyone in the procession stands still.  They’re shocked.  No wonder.  After all, coming into contact and touching the dead in the Old Testament made you unclean.  Impure.  Polluted.  But Jesus doesn’t shy away one bit.  Doesn’t even think twice.   

Behold!  The Lord Jesus takes the deadness, the rot, the gunk, the filth — the carcinogenetic contamination of death itself in Himself with His touch.  He takes the wages of sin from this boy in His Body with His touch.  And He will carry sin’s paycheck to the Cross.  To undo deathly death for this boy and for all.

Consequently, the Lord of life speaks.  “Young man, I say to you arise!”   And remarkably His words do what they say.  His almighty words raise the boy from the dead.  “The dead man sat up and began to talk and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” 

Isn’t this absolutely remarkable?  Just like Elijah of old who raised the widow woman’s son from the dead in 1 Kings 17.  “A great prophet has appeared among us.  GOD HAS COME TO HELP HIS PEOPLE!”  Yes indeed.  God has come to help His people.  He’s the Lord Jesus Christ.

And He comes to help you too.  What profound pity He has on you.  His guts spill out in love for you poor dead sinners. 

He takes your sin and all it’s punishment.  That’s His Good Friday death.  For you.  Then He rose for you.  For your salvation. 

He comes to you and touches you in your Baptism.  Drowns your old Adam.  Buries you with Him in His Good Friday death and burial.  And then raises you from the water to live a new life.  The life of faith only in Him.  In your Baptism the Lord Jesus said to you:  “Get up.  Arise.”  And His words did exactly what they said.  Your Baptism truly is a washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit as Paul says in Titus 3. 

Now you live in the “born again” power of your Baptism.  The daily death to sin.  The daily resurrection to the new life of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  He has given you back to your Moms and Dads.  Your brothers and sisters.  Your friends and coworkers.  To love them.  To help them.  To live for them in your vocation. 

“But Reverend, I’ve lost my Mom.  My Dad passed away years ago.  So have Grandpa and Grandma.  A brother too.  Even a sister.  And even one of my children.  I was there at the funeral.  I saw the dead body.  I saw the burial.  And I know that some day I will die too.  Now what?”

Do not cry.  The Lord Jesus’ Good Friday death is not a nothing.  The gift of your Baptism into His death is not a nothing.  His very Body and Blood that you eat from His hands today are not a nothing.  They give you His Calvary won forgiveness.  And where there’s forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation.  Forgiveness that lasts for the long haul.  To the Last Day.  And on that day from the tomb your loved ones and you yourself will hear the Lord’s voice:  “I say to you arise.”  And you will.

So both now and on the Last Day we are filled with awe.  We praise God.  Why?  Because a great prophet has appeared among us.  God has come to help his people.  And He’s none other than the Lord Jesus Christ.  Remember that the next time you see a funeral procession.  Or the next time you’re at a funeral.  Or as you prepare for your own.  After all, Jesus is in the habit of spoiling all funerals with His promise of the resurrection.   

In the Name of Jesus.             

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