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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sermon 09232012 16th Sunday After Trinity


May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Lord Jesus Christ, when You saw the pall bearers carrying the woman’s son, You had compassion upon the widow.  In that moment by Your simple command, the young man was raised from the dead and you gave him back to his mother.  May we understand that this miracle was to show not only Your humanity, but especially Your divinity.  For only God, in Human form could command the dead to be raised and You are God the Son, born of a virgin that came to set us free from death.  This is accomplished only through our baptism into Your life, death and resurrection for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

One of Michele’s and my favorite programs is the “Big Bang Theory”.  For some, it may seem out of character for a Pastor to have a favorite television program with this title, but for Michele and myself, it is a show that epitomizes science ‘nerds’ and as the saying goes, ‘I are one’. 

However, if you go to the Sunday School room here at Emmanuel, in complete opposition to the “Big Bang Theory” you will find on one of the walls the order of the days of Creation.  From Day one to Day seven where the heavens and the earth are formed, the plants, trees, animals and the oceans and mountains and all of creation where our world as we know it was formed by God.  It is clear from the Biblical Story, unlike with creationism that man specifically Adam was of great importance.  Adam according to Genesis was formed in God’s image and was given dominion over the entire earth.  Hence, when Adam spoke, the question could be asked, ‘By whose authority do you speak?’  The response was that it was by the authority of God Who had entrusted and given the responsibility of the care of the earth to Adam.

In our Gospel this morning, this same question, ‘By whose authority do you speak?’ was probably asked of Jesus Christ.  From our lesson, it is clear that Jesus was travelling with his disciples near the city called Nain.  And what should be approaching Him, but a funeral procession.  Unlike today here in Goodland, KS or in the South, where we ‘pull off the side of the road’, in Christian respect for the family of the deceased, in Jesus day since no one drove cars, people would just stop and ‘pay their respects’ by stopping what they were doing or where they were going.  This included workers in the fields and laborers no matter the task they were accomplishing.  It was a sign of respect.  As well, it was a great honor for the men who were asked to help carry the person to their final resting place.  Just as we have here in Western KS the cemeteries at the outskirts of the towns, it was the last and final journey of individuals and the people would accompany the deceased to their final resting place on the outskirts of the town or city.  Ironically the cemeteries were very near the town or city to allow the bereaved to visit their families final resting place, such as with Lazarus and his sisters.

Luke says, “Now as He [that is Jesus] approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her.”  So this procession was a very large crowd from the city, there were apparently many mourners.  Having already lost her husband and now her son, the town was probably well aware of her circumstances.  And now this, her only son was being born by his friends and lamented very loudly by the women and mourners to his final resting place on the outskirts of the city.

13 When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her,.  Jesus shows very clearly His Humanity and His Divinity here.  Since He was travelling and unlike our culture where there are announcements and where we wait two or three days for burial, the religious custom for Jews was to bury the person before the sun set on the day of their death.  Hence, the news may not have spread to where Jesus and the disciples were, but in His Divinity, Jesus Christ was divinely omniscient.  He knew everything there was to know about this woman, her son and her family because He was God the Son, Second person of the Holy Trinity.  Since we humans do not have the same gift and power of omniscience as God, we marvel at Jesus revealing to us His personal knowledge, not only in simple words, but a very profound action.  And Jesus says to the mother with the tenderness of true knowledge and understanding, “Do not weep”, for He, that is Jesus, knows exactly what He will do.

Jesus stops the bearers of the coffin and says, “Young man, I say to you arise!”  And in that simple phrase, Jesus commands the young man to get up.  But, by whose authority does He that is Jesus speak?  By the authority of His Divinity, His Humanity and His Humility, Jesus command is not one of potential, but of abject reality revealed for the woman whose son was about to be buried, for the crowd gathered around the coffin and in the procession and for we God’s people today.

Jesus Christ with the authority given by His Father, revealed through the prophets of the Old Testament, fulfilled in His birth in the manger in Bethlehem and today made completely manifest in the simple command to arise, reveals Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit to each of us today.  For unlike commands of parents to children who don’t listen when we tell them to clean their room, to adults to cease and desist their destructive behaviors or even the whistle of the referee to end the play at a football game, Jesus Christ command was clear and unmistakable.  “Young man, I say to you arise!

Luke records, “15 The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.”  Without any pause in time, the young man, once dead and being borne to his resting place, now speaks and Jesus returns him to his mother.  Jesus Christ with authority here on earth over storms, over oceans, over fish of the sea, over all creatures great and small with all humility and compassion gives this young man back to his mother.  The son she had mourned over not ten minutes earlier now is returned to her by Jesus Christ, alive and talking just as if nothing were different.

 And “16 Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!”  The people were afraid because of what they had just seen and experienced.  In their midst, Jesus Christ brought a young man back from the dead.  This was not a parlor trick, nor was it elaborate trickery that was performed.  Clearly the people had heard about Elijah and Elisha, the great prophets who had brought people back to life, but the further acclimation “God has visited His people!” clearly shows that Jesus Christ the Man in their presence was special, for in a simple way, they proclaimed Jesus Christ as not only prophet, but also God.  Hence in answer to the question, “By whose authority do you speak?”, it was by the authority of God that Jesus Christ brought this man back to life.  And now the news would spread throughout the region of what had occurred outside the city of Nain.

But what and why is that important for us today?  Simply the Word of God incarnate and manifest for this widow and her son are manifest for us today as we read Holy Scripture and hear the miracle that God in Jesus Christ performed.  In our confession in a few minutes we lay claim to this miracle.  For when we confess, “I believe in the resurrection of the body”, we clearly connect ourselves with this widow and the miracle of her son being raised from the dead that Jesus performed.  Though the young man was being taken to his final resting place, Jesus Christ resurrected his body and gave him back to his mother.  So to on the day of our death, when we breathe our last, God’s Holy Angels will take us to be in God’s Kingdom.  We will have our resurrected bodies, no longer full of cancer, arthritis, sickness, MS, diabetes or our own frailties.  We will have resurrected bodies perfected in the image of God.

Then all of us saints who gather here at Emmanuel for worship, for prayer, for confession and forgiveness, for partaking of the precious Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, will enter into eternity with our Lord and Savior.  Because of Jesus Christ sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary for all mankind and in and through His innocent death that we have been baptized into, death no longer has dominion over us and we are set free for all eternity.  By and through the Holy Spirit calling us through the Gospel we receive eternal life and God will bring all of us saints here at Emmanuel to be home with Him in His kingdom.  For clearly, when asked, “By whose authority do you speak this?”, I confidently say, it is by God’s authority through Jesus Christ life, death and resurrection and my calling by God through you the people of Emmanuel that as Pastor of Word and Sacrament ministry here at Emmanuel I declare, not only the forgiveness of sins, but life and salvation for those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  For these are the free gifts of God offered for the people of God, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel.  Thanks be to God!  AMEN.
//trial script