Lent 5: “Life”
March 29th, 2020 – John 11:25
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
What’s the Fear?
This is what we hear about over and over again. This is what we are forced to ruminate on now day after day. We meditate on the virus and what it is doing to our world and to our communities. To Ontario, to Vermilion Bay and to Dryden. Often, our meditation on it is focused on fear. Whether it is our own fear or anger at the fear the media is trying to cause. We are surrounded by fear of this thing.
But what are we really afraid of? A cough? A fever? No, most aren’t scared of these things.
Why are multi-billion dollar organizations, and countries spending billions of dollars to avoid this? Why are you worshipping God this morning looking at a screen instead of meeting together in a building as the body of Christ? Why have our workplaces been shut down and people been laid off from their jobs? Why are people isolating and no longer allowed to play in the parks together?
What’s the big deal!? What are we so afraid of?
Put simply – death. Death is The big deal. People can spread this disease and end up with people dying. That’s it. That is the big deal. And you know what? It is a big deal.
Ceasing to live on this earth is the biggest and worst, thing that can happen to us. Even being affected by Death in losing someone you know or love can cause big problems in your life. Losing those we love, being cut off from them, no more chats, no more hugs, no more fights, no more anything, is the worst thing that can happen on this earth and is the most natural unnatural thing we can experience and creatures initially created to live forever.
Life itself is a huge gift from God. You have something right now that is more precious than anything else found on this earth. You have life and the ability to live which is given by God. Some days (maybe most days) you may not even realize the immense value of the life you have. Without a life, you cannot enjoy anything that life has to offer! You need life to enjoy the smell and beauty of plants, or sunrises, or the warmth of a nice fire, the feeling of snuggling with your pup or a purring cat. Or the feeling of falling in love, the joy of success and a job well-done, the taste of cheese or wine, or anything that can be eaten or drank. Anything you experience can only be experienced because of the life you have!
Life is so beautiful. Life has beauty! And life… it is eternal.
Whether you think about it often or not at all, the life you have been given by God is eternal. We never simply cease to exist. Nobody does – ever. We live on this earth and then we die on this earth. And God has promised the resurrection from death to eternal life of absolutely EVERY single person who has ever lived. The people who have lived will keep on living. The life they have been given by God will never actually end.
However, some will be raised to life that is lived forever with God enjoying the best of life and all good while others will be raised to eternal life in their remade bodies to suffer physically, forever in hell, for all the sins they have committed on this earth (and believer me, for every single person, there are many sins to be eternally punished for). The point is this, life never ends. That is what God says. That is what the church has always said. That is what I am reminding you of again today. Life never ends.
What is the Enemy?
God has given each one of us a precious, (priceless even!) life here on earth. So, YES! Let us protect it! Let us protect it with everything we have. Let us throw the money of this earth at it so we can preserve and protect this priceless gift God has given each and every person. Let us meet in different ways and take different actions to preserve this life which is the most valuable thing humanity possesses from God.
As it is, we spend most of our money on protecting our life anyway. The never-ending search for youth? Eternal Life. Medical advancements and technology? Preserving Life. All emergency workers and those who work to keep peace and safety? Preserving life. Farmers, ranchers, grocery stores and the like? Sustaining life. Even those who offer other services are there to give us things to enjoy our life.
But you know what? Nothing we have or spend our money on is as valuable as that which makes the life we live after death possible to live with God. Nothing else we have can come close to the thing which brings us to enjoy our eternal life with our Creator and not spending it suffering for our sins. Nothing comes close to the life which was willingly given to die so that we could have eternal life with God. Nothing on this earth compares to Jesus and His life. Nothing compares to the healing from earthly death which can ONLY come from God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.
That is what makes us meeting together at His command so precious. That is what makes the church and its message from God, no matter what anyone else says, and essential service. This is what makes Jesus’ death on the cross and the forgiveness of our sins He won for us so essential to all life. That is what makes gathering around His Word so key to our life now because it is about the life we will continue to live. Jesus only died because our sin causes us to die in the first place.
What is the real enemy in our life? Is it COVID-19? Is it death? No. For the eternal life of the Christian, the real enemy is that which can turn us away from God to suffer for eternity. The real enemy is Satan. The real enemy is our own sin. The rescuer from ourselves? Jesus.
Resurrection and Healing
Look at our readings assigned for this morning from God’s Word. What do you see? We see the power of God to bring life back into dry old bones (Ezek. 37:1-14). We see God promising His Spirit who will give life to our bodies which would normally be forever dead to the good life God has for us and suffer eternity in hell instead. God gives us eternal life with Him by His Spirit given to us by Him in our baptism! (Rom. 8:1-11). We see Jesus, proving His ability to give life after death by raising up Lazarus from being dead for days. (John 11) We see Jesus claiming all the power that can be had over life by proclaiming “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
Jesus is claiming that He is the one to be feared and the one to be loved because He has power over our eternal life. What does He say to us? What does the one who has the direction of our life in His hands? Does He want to damn us to Hell to justly suffer for eternity?
No. Jesus wants us to live, and have life with Him to the fullest – both now and then in eternity (John 10:10). He wants us to be free of our sin and live in Him. He wants us to have peace. He wants us to love as He has loved us. And He gives us all these things – through the Words which reveal to us who God is and what He has done for you and for me.
May these Words from God now, bring you peace in this life, and bliss with Him in your life which continues on beyond the grave.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.