Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
((5. Oops!: There is death—ever present foe.))
Death. That’s uncomfortable. Death. Who wants to talk about that? No one, really. Death: the opposite of life. Why would we want to talk about that? Especially on a day like today! It’s very true that death makes us comfortable. Death is an ever present foe. Has been since almost the beginning.
Death came because of the devil’s lie: “You won’t surely die…you’ll be like God.” That was a lie. The Lord’s Word held true: “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Then Adam and Eve were afraid of God, and they died. We’re afraid of death, too. Don’t like to talk about it. Don’t want to think about it. We’re afraid of death because, like Adam and Eve, we’re afraid of God. If we die, we meet God. Better put that off as long as possible. Death. Uncomfortable? Afraid? Of course, it’s death!
((4. Ugh!: We can’t escape it!))
We’re really afraid of death because we can’t escape it. There’s nothing you can really do about it. Pretty much everyone dies. Unavoidable. And it doesn’t matter how good you are. The crowd around Jesus is right: “Abraham died, and the prophets died.” “Death spread to everyone because everyone sinned.”
Long life is a gift. A gift for service and love. A gift to give opportunity for receiving the Lord’s Word and Gifts, to bring you to repentance and faith. But, at the end of the day, death seems like one of the unchangeable laws of the universe: like gravity, E=mc2, or Stephen Hawking’s blackhole radiation.
But one trumps them all—death. Those you love will die. You’ll die! No amount of healthy food, exercise, medication, money, or doctors will change that. One day will be your last day, minute, second, then… Well, there’s the fear, right?
((3. Aha!: All eyes—ears!—on Jesus.))
All eyes—ears!—on Jesus. Not on the grave. He alone speaks the truth—life! He speaks life. Not death. So we prayed in our Psalm today: “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.” Jesus’ truth vindicates you from death. His truth and life undoes the devil and his demons’ lies and death. Ears on Jesus’ Word. Cherish it. Hold on for dear life. Listen to what He says, “If anyone cherishes my word, he will never see death.”
((2. Whee!: YOU WON’T SEE DEATH FOREVER BECAUSE YOU’VE ALREADY TASTED DEATH.))
You!—YOU WON’T SEE DEATH FOREVER BECAUSE YOU’VE ALREADY TASTED DEATH. Jesus’ death. His death for you. His life—living now forever—tasted that, too. That’s today! That’s today for Henry Michael. Washed in Jesus’ righteousness, sprinkled with His blood, baptized into His death and resurrection. Henry’s tasted of, experienced, Jesus’ death—splashed on him in the water and Word of the Font. The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, is now his.
You, too! YOU WON’T SEE DEATH FOREVER BECAUSE YOU’VE ALREADY TASTED DEATH. Jesus’ death. His death for you. His life—tasted that, too. In the body and blood of His Supper, Jesus has given you to taste of His death and life. Body and blood, “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” and “where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.” The true medicine from the Great Physician—the medicine of immortality. True ambrosia!—the food of God—God Himself—His body and blood. Death undone! Grave will be empty—yours! His was. You’ve received crucified and raised for you body and blood. That sort of resurrected life is and will be yours—already experienced and tasted it.
Oh, yes. You’ll see death. Those you love. “Life it seems will fade away.” Fade to black. But then they’ll open again to see your eternal-life-giving Physician face to face. You’ll see death thrown into hell. You’ll see Him—Jesus—forever. Alive forever. Him and you! YOU WON’T SEE DEATH FOREVER BECAUSE YOU’VE ALREADY TASTED DEATH. Jesus’ death. His life, too. Font delivered—to each and everyone of you! Altar delivered, too!
((1. Yeah!: That’s Jesus’ truth that we cherish.))
Believe it, trust it, cherish it! It’s true! Jesus, the I AM, has come to you, to rescue you from death by His death and life, and by His death and life delivered in His Word, Promises, and Gifts. Abraham’s joy is your joy. “Those of God” hear and cherish this preaching of Jesus, His Word, His Promises, His Gifts. He Himself comes to you in His Word, Promises, and Gifts. We meet Jesus in those places, only in the places and ways He has promised. Nothing more true than what He says and delivers. This is what Jesus means when He says, “If anyone cherishes my word, he will never see death.”
What Jesus says is trustworthy and true. We cherish His Baptism and Supper promises. We cherish them by using them, by receiving them. How else would you cherish them? He says, “make disciples by baptizing,” “let the children come to me,” “eat and drink My body and blood.” We cherish Him: His death and life, unto eternal life by receiving His Words and Promises and Gifts. For in them only do we receive the eternal life He promises: “If anyone cherishes my word, he will never see death.”
Death. Uncomfortable? Afraid? That’s just your flesh and the devil’s lie. And you? Well, YOU WON’T SEE DEATH FOREVER BECAUSE YOU’VE ALREADY TASTED DEATH. Jesus’ death and life. They are yours—delivered to you. No room for fear, doubt, unfaith! Jesus tasted death for you. Rose again. He vindicates you from your death by giving you His death and life. And He delivers all that onto your forehead, into your ears, into your heart, into your mouth!
INI + AMEN.