Trinity 16 2022 (Lk 7, 11–17)

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Jesus said, “Young man, to you I say, ‘Arise!’” And the dead man sat up.

᛭ INI ᛭

As Lutherans we follow a schedule of appointed readings for Sundays. I on’t choose what texts are coming up. Every once and awhile there are some alternate readings that I could choose from, which hasn’t happened for while, but by and large the readings are set. We call this schedule a lectionary. Now, we also follow the historic Church Year, with seasons like Advent, Lent, or even Trinity. This calendar shifts around mostly based on when Easter falls, and so I don’t even get to pick when the readings pop up!

This helps to keep us in line with what Paul says in Acts 20 to the pastors in Ephesus: “I did not draw back so that I did not proclaim to you the whole counsel of God.” That is, Paul preached everything that was delivered in God’s Word. The Lectionary, in a sense, forces pastors to do the same. It forces them to preach on topics they wouldn’t normally choose, makes them read things they wouldn’t normally choose to read on a given Sunday. This is for your benefit, so that you hear “the whole counsel of God.”

The appointed Gospel reading for the 16th Sunday after Trinity Sunday is Luke 7:11–17. Today’s text is about death. Today’s Gospel is what happened when Jesus showed up at a funeral. But it wasn’t the service or anything like that. Jesus shows up as they’re carrying out the deceased to bury him.

So, today’s about death, but also how to treat death. How we treat death. How Jesus treats death. What we do with death. What Jesus does with death. When we look, when it’s appointed for us to look at Luke 7, we see that


(I. We handle death with a sense of finality and permanence.)

How do we do death? Well, there’s nothing as final and permanent as death, is there? From our human perspective that’s it! “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” So, we handle death with a sense of finality and permanence. After all, that’s why “a sizable crowd was with” the widow of Nain.

In fact, the assumed finality and permanence of death scares us. Old Adam is afraid to death of death! Our sinful nature knows that its days are numbered. Death really scares us because, as the widow at Zarephath knew, death brings sin to remembrance. “The sting of death is sin,” Paul says. Or the more well known: “The wages of sin is death.” The sinning we do as human beings isn’t living. Our sin is actually killing us! There’s of course the eternal consequences of our rebellion against God as sinners. But there’s the more close to home reality of death. We die because we’re sinners. The just payment and penalty for being sinners, for the sins we commit, is death.

Because of sin, the harsh reality is that death and dust are inescapable. We can’t escape death. We can’t escape that we will all one day be dust. The curse of Genesis 3 rings out against all people: “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”


That’s how we do death. With a mindset that it’s final and permanent, but Jesus handles death as if its temporary and frail. Like I said:


(II. Jesus handles death as if its temporary and frail.)

How does Jesus handle death? Well, He shows up. The Prince of Life shows up and brings His Kingdom near. He draws near to us with His Kingdom of Life. He doesn’t stand at arms length or anything. In fact, the Prince of Life, comes and touches death. “He came up and touched the bier.” He touches the casket, He speaks His Word, and the casket is, well, useless, no longer needed. “Young man, to you I say, ‘Arise!’” And the dead man sat up.

What happens at Nain is a foretaste of Easter! Jesus, the Prince of Life, the Author of Life, goes into death. He endures what we rightly deserve. He Himself goes into the payment, the penalty for our sin. He bears our sin in His own body on the tree, and then His body endures death. Life dies, and then death itself dies. As the hymn puts it, “Christ the Life of all the living; Christ the death of death our foe.” The very thing that scares us most is weak, feeble, frail, and temporary. Jesus puts that on display at Nain. As it were, a downpayment, an IOU for His own going into death and coming back to life.

Jesus, by raising the man at Nain, promises your own resurrection from the dead. He promises it with the same thing He used to raise the dead man—His Word. His Word says, “I baptize you,” and that means, as Paul says, you have “been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.” At Holy Communion Jesus delivers His body and blood to you for the forgiveness of sins, and we believe that “where there is forgiveness there is also life and salvation.” Or as Jesus says in John 6, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will resurrect Him on the Last Day.”

Now all things serve to proclaim His cross and His empty tomb. Christians use their death as their final confession not of their faith in general or the things that they necessarily enjoyed in their earthly life. It’s their final act of confessing what we confess daily in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in Jesus Christ who rose again on the Third Day. I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”


That’s what Jesus does with death. Not final and permanent. But temporary and frail. He undoes it Nain with a word! A word! “Arise!”


The most final and permanent thing we can come up with—death—is over. It’s ended!


The end of all things is at hand (ἐγγύς)! Repent for the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Life, ruled by the Prince of Life, is at hand! (ἐγγύς) The gates (πύλαι) of hell (Mt 16), the gate (πύλη) at Nain (Lk 7), the gate (πύλη) of death and the grave (Ps 118) can’t withstand it, can’t withstand Him! The Prince of Life does Life! Life in the midst of a funeral at Nain. Life in the midst of a grave at Easter. So it will be for all the dead, and eternal life will be given by the Holy Spirit to “all believers in Christ.” As the Psalmist says, “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.”

᛭ INI ᛭

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