Sermon for November 10, 2013@: Resurrection
Proper 27c, 2013 (November 10)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. Luke chapter twenty, as well as Moses’ encounted with God in Exodus chapter three. Let us pray:
Living God, Your almighty power is made known chiefly in showing mercy and pity. Grant us the fullness of Your grace to lay hold of Your promises and live forever in Your presence; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
When Moses was on Mt. Sinai, he didn’t expect to encounter God. He was fleeing from Egyptian justice, hoping to tend his sheep in peace, miles away from Pharaoh’s courts and the intrigue involved with it all. He wanted to tend his sheep, care for his family, and look after himself. His attempts at helping his people, the children of Israel, well they hadn’t exactly gone well. But here was a bush, burning but not consumed, speaking out to him and calling him by name. God would use Moses to deliver His people, Israel, from their imprisonment and slavery. Moses didn’t believe it, not at first at least. He wasn’t sure that the people of Israel would listen to him. But God had promised His enduring presence with Moses, and the people were saved in His time and according to His divine plan.
God does not work in obvious ways. He does not play by the rules that we think He should play by, and His goals are not the same as our goals. He is, after all, God and not one of us. His divine work of salvation and resurrection, well, they are so big, so amazing and beyond our comprehension, we have a hard time fathoming what resurrection even means. The closest we get is to think about heaven. Heaven, to us, is like here only better. Heaven is earth without the problems. That’s what we think. But God’s plans for you and me are way, way bigger and better than that.
So a group of people come to Jesus with a question. It’s kind of a silly question to our ears, but to them, it was deadly serious. The group asking the question are called the “Saducees,” that is, a group within Israel that didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. So for them, all of Jesus’ talk about death and resurrection is just wrong. They don’t want a Messiah that brings back the dead. They want a Messiah that fixes things right now. So they ask Jesus this question about the one wife for the seven brothers. It sounds like a bad take on a musical to us. But their point is that if there is a resurrection from the dead, all of the patterns and things that we learn in this life won’t work anymore. They won’t even make sense. So to the Saducees, the answer was that there could be no resurrection.
Now before we dismiss the Saducees as kooks, it is important to stop and recognize the Saducee in each of us. We may poo-poo the Saducees as a strange group of Jews from years ago, but we all act like Saducees in our practice of Christianity. We all act as if the troubles of this life, the trials we face and the heartaches and injuries we endure, we act as if these troubles signal the end of the world. We act as if the troubles that we endure here and now is all that there is.
In other words, we live and act as if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. We act as if all we have is this life, and that we had better gather all we can now, because there is nothing else. That is the Saducee talking you. Live for today, because there is no tomorrow. Heaven, the afterlife, resurrection, all of those things are so far away and just plain weird, that it is just easier to act as if they don’t exist.
The problem with this, and what happens to us as Christians is that when we forget the point of the faith is resurrection of the body, when we forget that central teaching, then everything else in the Christian faith isn’t far behind. Once the resurrection of the dead is no longer important, then nothing else in the Bible or that Jesus teaches really matter, either.
What the Saducees, and oftentimes we, cannot accept is that Jesus did not come in order to make us feel better about ourselves. He didn’t come to fix every earthly problem or contradiction in our lives. He didn’t come even to tell us how to live, not really. All of those things will come in their own time and way, but they are not the point. No, Jesus came to raise you from the dead, pure and simple. And when they reality sinks in, how we treat one another becomes much clearer.
God reveals His power chiefly in showing mercy and pity. There are lots of things we don’t understand about heaven. We know that there is no marriage, because that is the highest estate here on earth. The marriage there is between Christ and His bride, the Church. God shows you mercy and pity not by making sure that your chains are comfortable. He is not satisfied to just make you a little better in this life. No, He plans a whole new beginning. A resurrection from the dead.
Today our Lord calls you to trust in Him for your very life and salvation. Hope in Him, and in His resurrection and therefore yours. As we continue to look forward to His return, live you life knowing that the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, the God of the Living, that He is the one who serves you, who redeems you, who reveals Himself to you in Word and Meal. He is the one who will raise you from the dead, where we will be equal to the angels and true sons and daughters of the heavenly king. That is a pretty great picture. That is a future worth looking forward to all the more. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.