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When life confronts death

Luke 7:11-17

Pastor David Ernst

Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

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Sun, Oct 6, 2019 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

In our text for today we have a clash between two parades. One road, two processions. On this side, the crowd following Jesus Christ, the Lord of life. On the other side, people following the coffin of the deceased, his mother's only son. It was a confrontation between life and death, in a sense.

What happened? “And when the Lord saw her, he took pity on her, and said: Do not cry. And he came and touched the coffin; and those who carried him stopped. And he said: Young man, to you I say: Get up. Then he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. ”

Of course, Jesus Christ has power over life and death. But, notice, this is not the only story in the Scriptures of reviving the deceased. In the New Testament, we also have the story of Jairus' daughter; of Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha; Dorcas of the church in Joppa, revived by St. Peter; and Eutychus, the young man from Troas who fell from a window during a sermon of St. Paul. Furthermore, in our reading of the Old Testament for today (1 Kings 17: 17-24), the prophet Elijah restored the life of the son of the widow of Sarepta.

There is a big difference between all these cases and the resurrection of Jesus. In all these cases, the Lord in His mercy gave them all another opportunity to live a few more years in this world. But, everyone died physically again. Their revival did not change anything for those outside their families. On the other hand, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was forever, for Him to rise to the side of God the Almighty Father. And the destiny of all of us changed, because of His propitiatory sacrifice on the cross, His victory over death in the resurrection, Jesus won the promise of eternal life for each of us.

Common sense about death in this world is death is the end of a person's story. We feel sad when a relative or friend dies, because we don't anticipate seeing this person again in this world. If we believe that there is a life is to come, perhaps we anticipate seeing our friend or relative after our own death. But, in the common experience, death is the last farewell.

But, the finality of death is not the truth in all cases, even in this world. Sometimes someone presumed dead revives. This week I read an account of a young man presumed dead. He was on the way to the crematorium when he sat up. Go figure! A few minutes before burning. The typical explanation of these cases is the person was not really dead.

However, sometimes someone can die on the surgery table for a few moments. The movement of the heart and the activity in the brain cease. But, doctors revive him. And many times later these people say that they left their bodies and saw an intense white light and the spirits of their loved ones. Clearly, our human reason cannot understand everything about life and death.

But, we should not rely on supposed visions of heaven or hell. Everything we need to know about the life that is to come is written in the Holy Scriptures. If the visions conform to the Scriptures, there is no need for them. If they contradict the Scriptures, they are traps of the devil. Above all we must trust Him who has power over life and death.

Well, the Lord of life and death saw the widow of Nain and had compassion. At that time, as in the time of Elijah, the family was the only social security system. If a woman did not have a husband or children to care for her in her old age, she was in a very bad state.

Therefore, the Lord had compassion and restored her son to the widow. Look at the parallel with the history of Holy Week. The Virgin Mary was also a woman who lost her son, but Her son rose from the dead, forever.

So, the question for some people is why does the Lord not restore everyone's loved ones? He has the power to do it. But, the best question is, why doesn't the Lord bring us to eternal life immediately? Why not right after baptism? The life to come would be better than this. Without pain or suffering, only joy and happiness forever.

The answer is the Lord has a purpose for each of us in this world. The Apostle Paul said it would be better to leave this world to be with the Lord, but the will of the Lord for him was to preach the gospel. For each of us, no matter our age, if we are alive, the Lord has a purpose for us.

In truth, there is no comparison between the trials and difficulties of this life and the joy of the life to come. Earthly life is short, but we have the promise of eternity with Jesus Christ. This is the foundation to live and we surpass all the things of this world.

May the peace that surpasses all understanding be with you. Amen.

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