TEXT: LUKE 11-17
IT’S ALL ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH AND LIFE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins, to deliver us from this present evil age (Gal 1: 3, 4).  Dear brothers and sisters in Christ;


Don’t you just hate life’s opposite - death – death by accident – death by illness – death by abortion - death on the highways – death in hospitals – death through criminal violence – death through terrorist bombings - death in disasters?  Death comes to over 200,000 in a few hours in a Haitian earthquake – death comes to scores in Guatemalan floods and mudslides.  Death comes to roughly about 3.5 million (born and unborn) each year in America.  In Wisconsin in the past week death came to a 33 year old mother trying to rescue her 9 year old daughter from drowning – death came to a Sheboygan couple in their early 50’s who struck a deer on their motorcycle – death came to a 15 year old Franklin youth going for a swim.

Today’s texts are all about LIFE AND DEATH AND LIFE!  Beloved – your life is no guess - what you believe from Scripture is not speculation!  The Bible clearly reveals that man is not an appendage but the very crown of God’s creation.

TEXT: LUKE 11-17
IT’S ALL ABOUT LIFE AND DEATH AND LIFE!
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins, to deliver us from this present evil age (Gal 1: 3, 4).  Dear brothers and sisters in Christ;


Don’t you just hate life’s opposite - death – death by accident – death by illness – death by abortion - death on the highways – death in hospitals – death through criminal violence – death through terrorist bombings - death in disasters?  Death comes to over 200,000 in a few hours in a Haitian earthquake – death comes to scores in Guatemalan floods and mudslides.  Death comes to roughly about 3.5 million (born and unborn) each year in America.  In Wisconsin in the past week death came to a 33 year old mother trying to rescue her 9 year old daughter from drowning – death came to a Sheboygan couple in their early 50’s who struck a deer on their motorcycle – death came to a 15 year old Franklin youth going for a swim. 


This week I received word that the son-in-law of a mentor and friend was tragically killed in a farm machinery accident (also in Wisconsin) – leaving a young widow and toddler.  The details of that accident brought to mind too many deaths of young and strong and active folks in my growing up.  You know of similar losses in your relationships.  Don’t you just hate life’s opposite – death?  I’m speaking of death the way God reveals it – as a curse (Gen 3) – as the wages of sin (Rom 6) – as an enemy (I Cor 15).  I’m not speaking of pretend death – something described as natural by soothing voices who deny God’s existence or who deny God’s wrath and the second death.


Today’s texts are all about LIFE AND DEATH AND LIFE!  The son of the widow of Nain was not near death – he was not clinically dead.  It’s not that his heart stopped beating for awhile and his vital signs were undetectable while heroic efforts were being made to quickly resuscitate him.  It’s not that he fell through the ice and bodily functions slowed down so much that even after many minutes under the water he was revived.  This young man was dead!  His corpse was being carried out of the city for burial!  He was as dead as Lazarus – of sisterly stinking-corpse description – most likely for one day – not four days.


The convergence of the great crowd of people coming into the city and the considerable crowd going out of the city pictures the two streams of all people.  One is a march of death steadily carrying their dead to the grave – like we still do today.  The other is a procession of life – following in the train of Jesus – as you are doing today – and in your daily life.


Death is something we cannot reason our way out of or educate our way out of or discover our way out of or health-food our way out of or meditate our way out of or medicate our way out of or exercise our way out of or love our way out of or buy our way out of or pray our way out of.  You cannot choose to sit out of this parade of death and be a spectator.  You and I are participants in the march – and we are already down the road a fair piece.  Death is the wages of sin and is therefore universal – for all of us sinners - who have received the precious, rare gift of life.


Do you often contemplate how extremely rare and unusual human life is?  Consider the vast reaches of space.  The high priests and priestesses of macro evolution never tire of searching for some hint, some speck of evidence of life in the silent, sterile stretches of the universe.  You know the drill – huge excitement over something perceived in a rock there or a little line on a picture here – or apparent color change somewhere out there.  All manner of speculation then follows - eagerly transmitted by an obliging media - spouting billions of years and speculating about scores of guesses.


Beloved – your life is no guess - what you believe from Scripture is not speculation!  The Bible clearly reveals that man is not an appendage but the very crown of God’s creation.  In the image of God you were made, male and female.  Your life is a rare, amazing gift of the Creator.  Your life is a beautiful, undeserved gift on this day.  It is so precious to God that when sin brought the curse of death into this world, the Creator Himself became flesh to reverse the curse.  God also made the sun and the moon and the stars, but He made them to serve you.  To God, outer space is not nearly as amazing as your inner space – your heart and your soul!


That is why Jesus is walking the earth in our text a few miles south of His home town of Nazareth.  The man who led the great crowd of people into the city is the Lord of life.  Jesus’ insides were moved with compassion as He speaks to the now childless widow – “Do not weep.”  He said this not to stuff her emotions but in anticipation that there would soon be nothing for her to weep about.


Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still.  The procession going out stopped as God in human flesh touched the coffin with His bare hands.  Since Jesus stopped, the great crowd behind him stopped as well.  Then – at the center of both halted crowds – death gave way to life at the word and the touch of Jesus.  Knowing His voice could be heard by the dead – Jesus spoke to the corpse – Young man, I say to you, arise.”  And the dead man sat up and began to speak and Jesus gave him to his mother. 


The processes of decay that occur in a corpse were stopped and reversed!  The heart that had been still was beating again!  The voice that had fallen silent in death – was active again.  He sat up and began to speak!  Jesus presented him to his mother.  Fear (godly fear) seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and God has visited his people!”  And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country. 


In fact, the report of this occurrence went even further – crossing oceans and centuries of time, and coming to the village of Shorewood, Wisconsin in the year of our Lord 2010.  Dear Christians – the report of this death-defeating miracle comes again to your ears and hearts on this day.  The bulletin cover of a flesh and blood person called back from death to life – sitting up and speaking - is a forecast of the bodily resurrection that awaits you on the last day.  On that day the Lord’s word will touch this coffin known as the earth and the dead will rise.  On that wonderful day of Resurrection, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, will raise up the bodies of all and reunite them with their souls.
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Don’t you just hate the opposite of life – death?  God never ever speaks of the acceptance of death in Scripture.  He speaks of its reversal.  He speaks of its destruction – but never of its acceptance.  St. Paul wrote of the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel (II Tim 1:10). 


That’s why it is a matter of life and death that the Gospel is not man-made.  As St. Paul also wrote to the Galatians, I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.  For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal 1:12).  The Gospel that Paul preached is conceived by God and carried out in Christ Jesus.   By the working of the Holy Spirit it is carried to your ears again today.  That Gospel gives eternal life.  That Gospel alone is the answer to death.  What a Holy mystery the Gospel is!
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In our Old Testament reading, the father is dead for Elijah helps a widow.  In the funeral procession of Nain the father is dead, for Jesus restores the son of a widow.  But on Good Friday, where was God the Father who always lives?  Where was He who is one with the Son and the Spirit from eternity?  Where was He who together with the Son spoke the world into being and hung the stars in space?  He was where Abraham had been when he bound his son, Isaac on Mount Moriah and laid Him on the altar and raised his hand to slay him.  God stopped that sacrifice providing His own lamb and Isaac was spared. 


On Good Friday on Mount Calvary no voice was heard to stop the sacrifice that took place on the altar of the cross.  There God provided the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Where was the Father then?  He was lavishing His love on this whole dying world – reconciling the world to Himself – through the blood of His Son.   Risen from the tomb the risen Christ now lavishes His love on you to give you life!


As Elijah stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again” – so the Holy Trinity has, in a manner, stretched Himself over you three times in Holy Baptism – to give you life.  You were washed with that water of rebirth in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  When Scriptures says – “baptism now saves you” (I Peter 3) God is not deceiving you.  This gift is not magic but it is a holy saving mystery wherein death gives way to life.  In like manner, death still gives way to life at His word and touch in the heavenly meal he serves you today.


Do contemplate today those two crowds of people facing each other as Jesus touched the dead man’s coffin with His bare hands.  Recall his strong word, “Young man I say to you arise.”  It was so easy for Him!


It is so easy for him also to deal with you in like manner.  God would have you picture yourself in the place of the widow’s son arising bodily from death.  What the widow’s son saw that you will also see is the man whose word and touch makes death flee away – Jesus Christ.  Body and soul He will give us back to the Father and to one another in fullness of love and life.  The mighty one, who speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets will have no difficulty summoning you to His side for eternity.  That’s why He tasted death and rose again for you!  That’s why you rightly confess in the creed, “I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”  God has visited His people!  The Lord will fulfill His purpose for you!  In the Name of Jesus, Amen.



THE PRAYERS

P    Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and all people according to their needs.
 
A    Lord God, though we deserve nothing but death and condemnation for our sinful nature and our many sins committed, You raise us from death to life. By Your Holy Spirit, grant unto us true humility to confess our sins, look to You alone for mercy, and joyfully receive the gifts Your Son Jesus Christ has purchased and won for us by His cross and Passion. Lord, in Your mercy,
C    hear our prayer.
 
A    God the Father, Your Son gave His Life to deliver us from this world full of sin and heartbreak. Continue to give to Your Church faithful pastors and missionaries who proclaim the Gospel of Christ, always speaking the truth in love, that we and people from all nations may receive Jesus’ gifts of the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting through Your appointed Means of Grace. Lord, in Your mercy,
C    hear our prayer.
 
A    God of heaven and earth, Your incarnate Son healed the sick and restored sight to the blind.  We give you thanks for returning Eunice and Lois to our midst.  Continue to give Jim healing and strength as he recovers.  Grant to those hospitalized, especially Marcie, and those under going testing, especially Lou, a restoration of heath and an abiding trust in your promises through your resurrected Son, Jesus.   Lord, in Your mercy,
C    hear our prayer.
 
A   God the Father, you continue to protect all that you have made- defend, encourage, and provide for the poor, hungry, homeless, the unemployed, and those who care for them. Make Your people eager to provide to those in need the blessings of Your created gifts, and to share the Good News of salvation and life in Jesus Christ. Lord, in Your mercy,
C    hear our prayer.
 
A    Lord of life, Your Word can instantly change all things.  Embrace in Your tender care all those suffering from difficult times and circumstances. Support them in their time of concern and anxiety. Grant them healing, restoration, and strength, especially those whose lives are torn by storm or flood or terror or disaster or violence. Sustain the Zirkles in their challenges and comfort those who mourn the death of loved ones, especially for Timothy's family- His wife and son, that they may find hope in the resurrection of Your Son amidst the tragedy and heartache. Constantly encourage all those in need with Your grace and peace. Lord, in Your mercy,
C    hear our prayer.
 
A   God of Love, Your mercies are new every morning.  We thank You for your gift of marriage, for another year of married life together for Jerry and Marie, and the entering into the bonds of marriage for Michael and Christina.  Open their hearts always to receive more of your love that their love for each other may never grow weary but deepen and grow through every joy and sorrow shared.  Bless all marriages among us to this end.  Lord, in your mercy,
C.    hear our prayer


A    Lord, we are not worthy to have Your Son come among us. Yet in kindness and love, You invite those united in faith to gather at the table of Your Son to eat His body and to drink His blood. Bless all who commune here this day, granting them faith to receive the promised forgiveness of sins, communion with You and all the saints in heaven, and eternal life and salvation. Lord, in Your mercy,
C    hear our prayer.
 
P    Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. 
Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a