Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity
Sunday of the Nain Resurrection
September 16, 2018
The Man Who Died for the Boy Who Lived
In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We live in a dying world where Death seems to win. Whether 3,000 die in a terrorist attack on 9/11 or if your 102 year old mother dies of old age on 9/11, the result is the same: they are no longer here. Nothing seems to be able to stand up to Death; it appears inevitable and invincible.
If only Jesus would attend every funeral and appear bodily at the grave site of all faithful believers. If only He would gently touch the caskets of the dead and tell them to get up, they would get up. In the history of the Old and New Testaments, God spoke life back into corpses several times. God’s prophet or even His Son intervened and got in Death’s way. But even for the son in Nain or Zarephath, Jairus’ twelve year old daughter, Lazarus in Bethany, or Eutychus in Troas, this resurrection was only temporary. They all died again.
But God isn’t content to just temporary bring life back to a handful of souls; He desires that all should live. So God Himself ended Death’s power not just in Nain, but completely on Calvary. Jesus stopped Death once and for all on the cross.
He went to the cross for the same reason He raised the widow’s son in Nain—His heart went out to this poor lonely woman. He came to this village of Nain and Luke says, “Behold!” In His humanity Jesus runs into this funeral procession. He sees the sadness and He acted. He first tells the widow to stop crying. He can say this, not because it is wrong to cry at funerals, but because He is there for her. His word is powerful and brings reality to light, even and especially in dark times.
He goes to the coffin of this dead son and touched it. He didn’t bang the bier; He pressed His holy hand to this stretcher of death and those carrying it stopped. And using His divine voice He called on Death to give up its prize. And Death had to listen. Death couldn’t say no.
The young man got up and began to talk. We don’t know what he said, but he was clearly alive. Jesus’ word had made all the difference.
Not only did Jesus give this widow her son back, but He ended her tears of sadness with the promise of reunion with her husband as well. She herself would die, her resurrected son would die again, but Death has lost its powerful to truly hurt God’s people. Reunion is where all of God’s baptized souls are headed.
Now it sometimes said at funerals, maybe even the one in Nain: “Your son is with your husband now.” Yes, and with millions of others who trusted in Christ, in the great eternal family of God. Jesus told us that everlasting life with Him will not be like life here—it’s not just your family, clan, or tribe, but all nations together around Him. Heaven is wherever Jesus is; not wherever your loved one is. So even in Nain, the widow and her son and the crowd got a preview and really a view of heaven, because Jesus was in Nain.
So yes, there is joy in seeing your beloved spouse and children again. But if that’s your center of gravity in the face of Death, you’ll lose your balance. When we face Death in the eye, Jesus’ promise keeps you grounded and rooted in His love: “I baptized you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!”
These are the word of our Great Prophet, the One foretold by Moses: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. This is what you requested from the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, ‘Let us not continue to hear the voice of the Lord our God or see this great fire any longer, so that we will not die!’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15–18 CSB)
Jesus is our great Prophet, the eternal Son of God, whose voice bring life to His people, not death. The crowds were right when they declared that God had come down and visited His people. Only God has power to stop Death in its tracks, whether for a time or for ever.
And with His death, Christ ended the power of Death for ever. He took was Death’s eternal hold on us and made it temporary at best. And better still, He changes Death into our birth into everlasting life. When we die, He takes His own home to be with Him forever.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
God demonstrates His own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Thanks be to God!
Pastor Boehringer has been preaching Christ and Him crucified to himself and to his congregation at Gethsemane since 2009.