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Living hope: Funeral of Xiomara Torrealba

John 11:21-27

Pastor David Ernst

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

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Sun, Aug 1, 2021 

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

Many times I saw in Xiomara's face the hope of which Saint Paul speaks in our epistle (1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18). In the midst of her illnesses, she had joy instead of sadness. This hope was the motive for her desire to hear the Word of God and receive the sacrament regularly.

With it we can anticipate eternal life after physical death. But, we must not think only in the future, for Jesus Christ knocks on our door now. Life in Christ begins with baptism with water and the Word, and the Word and the Lord's Supper sustain us on our pilgrimage. We should not think that with baptism and first communion we have finished the race, because we have many trials to face until the last trial, physical death. But with the Lord's help we can stay the course. Christ is with us now and forever.

The context of our gospel for today is the seventh sign of the gospel according to Saint John, it has been placed in this account of the life and work of Jesus Christ to lead us to trust Jesus and to base our hope of resurrection and eternal life on him.

Of the many miracles or signs that Jesus performed during his earthly ministry, Saint John has selected seven to relate. The apostle never uses the word, "miracle," but "sign." The first of the seven signs that John recounts is the story of the water turned to wine at the wedding in Cana in the second chapter of the gospel. Jesus changed water into wine to rejoice the hearts of men. He also restores health to the sick, distributed food in the desert, came to his disciples walking on the water, restored sight to a blind man.

The revival of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary of Bethany, is the last one before the death and resurrection of our Lord. Jesus had shown his power over nature, now he demonstrated his power over life and death. The revival of Lazarus, out of compassion for Martha and Mary, was not the resurrection to eternal life, but a sign that God's mercy is a current reality. Lazarus lived a few more years before physically dying again. However, through his faith, Lazarus received the gift of eternal life at the resurrection.

“Martha said to Jesus: Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I also know now that whatever you ask of God, God will give it to you. "

Marta's words are a reflection of the pain she is suffering, a reaction similar to our reaction to death. We often complain that if God was with us, we would not have to suffer the loss of our loved ones. Marta already believes that there will be a resurrection of the dead, but without application of her daily life. Martha's faith was not centered on the person of Jesus Christ, a faith in the one who not only gives life to a dead person, but also gives eternal life.

Jesus responded to Martha's plea with a beautiful word of comfort, which certainly tests her faith. The words sounded as if Jesus was referring only to the final resurrection, on the last day. There was the hope of the faith that he could always cling to. And Marta turned out to be up to the test; she, with all other true believers among the Jews, believed in the resurrection of the dead. If she received nothing more from the hand of Jesus, she would be completely satisfied with this gift of her grace.

Job is sure that there will be a glorious resurrection of the body in the last day, that the same skin that clothed it during his mortal life here on earth will again cover the flesh that has been subject to decay and corruption. However, in my flesh I will see God, literally, "From my flesh I will see God." The body that, in the corruption of death, was stripped of its skin, will once again be clothed with that covering, and then, from that same body, Job would see God. Job is so sure of this fact that he describes the scene in concrete terms.

Christians believe in the resurrection of the body and eternal life, because our faith rests in the one who died for us and rose again, so that we can live with Him forever. Believers, therefore, although they apparently succumb to temporal death, but have life, are full possessors of life in the midst of death, they are participants and participants with Christ in the full and complete life that had no beginning for Him and that it will. there will be no end for those who trust only in his redemption. Death is only the gateway to full and perfect life; it has no terrors for the Christian. Whatever experience believers have of death is on this side of the grave; here the fear of death and the terrors of hell assail them at times with great force. But they conquer all these horrors through faith in the words of Christ, and at the very moment of dying, death is conquered.

“Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life; He who believes in me, even though he is dead, he will live. And everyone who lives and believes in me will not die forever. Do you believe this? She said to him: Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world. "

Since this trust must be found in the heart of every believer, Jesus asks Martha the question: Do you believe this? And Martha happily nods and expresses her unshakable faith in hers, her Lord, as the promised Christ, the Son of God.

The words, "I am," also appear seven times in the Gospel of St. John. "I am" identifies Jesus with Jehovah, also as the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises. "I am the resurrection and the life" means eternal life is not something for which we have to wait until the last day. Eternal life with Christ begins when we are born from above through the Word and the water of baptism. Faith in Christ is the basis of our assurance, not only in the resurrection at the last day, but also in this earthly life.

Hence, from now on, we have hope and peace that passes all understanding. Amen.

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