Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Remember Jesus Christ, Raised From The Dead

I can remember many years as a child my family and I accompanied Grandpa out to the cemetery in Anderson, Indiana to the grave site of his late wife. We’d walk around to see where other relatives were buried and share few memories-along with some regrets. Since then, Grandpa and many others on both sides of my family have died. I was always fascinated by the inscriptions on the tombstones. A few had well wishes, a couple had messages, but most had Scripture quoted verbatim or a verse mentioned. Memorial Day helps us as Americans reflect on the sacrifice our brave servicemen made in defending our nation’s freedoms. More recently, fallen firemen and police officers have taken their place alongside soldiers and sailors and airmen. The events of 9-11 drew our attention to their heroism. But, why remember the dead? Well, we do so out of thanks for the gifts of freedom and family they gave us. We remember them in comforting each others’ sentiments, that those who died in the Christian faith did not take any personal grievances with them beyond death’s door. We can truly rejoice in fond memories and help each other through troublesome rgrets and lingering fears. None of these reasons, though, carry the day unless we remember Jesus Christ, trusting in Him, who is risen from the dead. (2 Tim. 2:8) He who is born of David’s human lineage (Rom. 1:3) is God everlasting (John 8:58) He is the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25) For He will raise all the dead, sending the unbelievers to hell and us who trust in Him to heaven’s eternal bliss. We know this because Jesus has kept all His other promises and fulfill all other prophecies made about Him. Through His death and resurrection, He has become our Lord and promises that we who trust in Him have eternal life now and in hereafter. (John 17:3, 1 Cor. 15:20-28) We remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead because 1. He remembers our sin no more. (Jer. 31:31-34, Ps. 130:3-4) and 2. We were buried with Him in Baptism. (Rom. 6:4) That’s when Jesus made His cross personal to each of us. Our sins are not just swept under the rug of heaven as if buried to reappear at some inconvenient moment. NO, Jesus buried them forever, in His death. He rose triumphant over them. He still remembers us as He brings our prayers of lament and for forgiveness to His and our heavenly Father. For in Baptism, our heavenly Father adopted us as His children, heirs of eternal life, coheirs with His Sole-Begotten Son, our Savior whom death could not hold back longer than He gave permission. Pastors have their vocation the ongoing call to remind us of Jesus Christ, raised from the dead. They serve us the Word in public preaching and public absolution. They put in our mouth Christ’s very body and blood just as they baptized us. That’s why Paul admonished young Timothy to teach, to suffer with the suffering, to preach the Word—remembering Jesus Christ who worked through Him. WE, in our own vocations, have a similar charge, not to go just halfway but to run the race like a well-trained athlete. God works in us to care for our neighbors, friends, and relatives that they, toom, may be built up in the Christian faith. Now, we know that some of our friends and relatives who have sat in funerals and by grave sites with us do not share our hope. Yet, what an appropriate time like Memorial Day to tell the good news of Jesus’ resurrection to them. The grave will not be the end. Rather, we long for those who are unbelieving to repent, so that their punishment may be averted and the life for which Christ died to give the whole world may be theirs as He has given it to us. May God give us the words of comfort to speak with fellow Christian and far off unbeliever alike as we approach this time of memorial. For Jesus, our One and Only Savior from sin, death, and hell lives and rules to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

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