Let us pray: Dear Savior, how we marvel at the complexity and uniqueness of this world when we consider Your glorious creation of it! And how we wish we could have been present to see You form the heavenly bodies, the animals, plants, and even our first parents. And yet, Lord, today is even more glorious! For today we are present, we are a part of, we see and experience the wonder of You making us into new creations with Your voice of love and forgiveness. In Genesis You created out of nothing, but today You do something even more difficult—You create holy people from sin-sickened, corrupted, spiritually dead corpses! You make the old new! May we glory in our new-found status as Your new creations! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, WHO RECONCILED US TO GOD!
TEXT: 2 Cor. 5: 14-21
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Pick three people, just three people in the New Testament, who you’d like to meet in heaven. Who’s life intrigues you? Who is mentioned that you’d love to learn more about? Most of us would probably pick some well-known character such as Peter, Paul, James, John, Christ’s father, Joseph, or perhaps Joseph of Arimathea, who loaned Jesus his grave, or Nicodemus, who came out of his shell to help bury our Lord. Personally, I’d like to, and will!, quiz every one of these people. But, I think the three most intriguing of all are the three people who died, came back to life, and then lived on for a time—knowing what had happened to them and knowing that Jesus had resurrected them. Of course, I’m referring to Jairus’ daughter, the young man from Nain, and Jesus’ friend Lazarus.
Imagine dying, having your soul leave your body to be with the Lord, and then having it come back, re-enter your body, have your dead body rise up, and live, yes live, to tell all about it?! You say: “Maybe they didn’t remember anything of their deaths or resurrections?” Well, even if that was the case, nonetheless, everyone around them did! And so, for the rest of their lives they knew that in Christ and because of Christ they had tasted death and lived to tell about it!
I cannot imagine any of these three being close-mouthed about any of this. I cannot imagine any of them living in fear over what others might think of them, or do to them, as they confessed Jesus’ power and lived to show forth His glory. Our lesson today is a stunning admission from St. Paul and the Holy Spirit Who inspired him that you and I walk in the shoes of those three resurrected souls! For as St. Paul clearly tells us:
THE OLD HAS GONE, THE NEW HAS COME!
What raised Jairus’ daughter, that man from Nain, and Lazarus from the dead?—The power of Christ’s eternal love. And no doubt they all responded to that love, they were compelled by that love for the rest of their lives to let their light of faith shine. If you were being carried to your grave in a hearse and suddenly opened your casket and arose—would you ever forget it? And how would you feel at having cheated death? Joyful? Yes! Thankful? Yes! Fearless? Yes! All humans by nature live their lives from a worldly point of view. That is, we usually care more what others think than what God thinks. So, we’re careful not to speak out to strongly against sin for fear of what others might say of think about us. We are often silent when homosexuality comes up in conversation, when gay marriage is trumpeted as o.k. by the press, when living together outside of marriage is winked at, when blatant greed infects those around us, and when the perennial lust for power achieved by stepping on the little people is viewed as a positive character trait. We often fail to lift up our voices in opposition to sin because we’re fearful of what others may think or do to us. But, I’ll bet you those three resurrected souls weren’t fearful. I’ll bet you that they were fearless in the face of any and all opposition to Godly truth. For the wages of their sins—death—had already been paid. And now, in Christ and because of Him, they were new creations!
Folks, the exact same truth applies to each and every one of you! Listen to St. Paul’s audacious message: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
There you have it! On the cross Christ was your laziness, your apathy, your indifference. On the cross He was your lust, your greed, your envy. On the cross Christ shouldered every evil known to mankind and He paid the penalty for them all—death. Moreover, when Christ died, you died. You were with Him and in Him while nailed to that tree. So, the fear of death is no more for you—for you’ve already tasted it in Christ. Also, since He arose from the grave, your grave, to life, you, too, have arisen! You, too, have a new lease on life. You have been reconciled, made one with God, through Christ’s blood. That means you have nothing to fear from Him or anything or anyone else. So, live that way! Be reconciled to the fact that guilt, fear, and death cannot hold you down.
I’m sure throughout the rest of their sojourn on earth the youth of Nain, Jairus’ daughter, and Lazarus were viewed by others with awe and wonder. No doubt, people marveled at what they had to say and sought to emulate their lives. My friends, the same is true for you and me! In Christ and through faith in Him alone we’ve tasted death and now live—for God’s glory alone! We’re His glorious ambassadors of spiritual life! All this is who and what you are. So don’t let anyone or anything try to convince you otherwise. Amen