Messiah Lutheran Church 6201 W Patterson Av
Chicago IL 60634

May 2020

Have You Been Raised From the Dead?

Matthew 27:52-53

"At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people" (Matthew 27:52-53).

So, have you been raised from the dead? In addition to the resurrection of our Lord, the Bible mentions numerous other people who were once dead but were raised to life.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Elijah raised from the dead the widow's son at Zarephath (1 Kings 17:20-34), while his successor Elisha similarly raised the Shunamite woman's son from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35). In addition, when a group of raiders from Moab frightened some Israelites in the process of burying a man, they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. And when the body touched Elisha's tomb, the man came to life and stood up on his feet (2 Kings 13:21).

In the New Testament, Jesus raised Jairus' 12-year old daughter from the dead, taking her hand and saying, "Little girl, I say arise!" (Mark 5:39-42) He raised his friend Lazarus from the dead after has had laid dead in a tomb, rotting for four whole days! (John11:39-44) As Martha says of her brother in the King James Version, "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days!" (John 11:39). Jesus also interrupted the funeral procession of the son of a widow in Nain by touching his casket and saying "Young man, I say to you get up!" (Luke 7:11-15).

In Acts 9:39-40, we discover that Peter raised a woman named Tabitha aka Dorcas from the death in Joppa. And after while Paul "talked on and on", a young man named Eutychus fell to the ground from the third story and died, only to be raised to life by Paul afterward (see Acts 20:9-12).

However, the dead saints in Matthew 27:52-53, who were raised to life, stand out in several ways. First they are directly connected to Christ's death and resurrection. After all, almost immediately after Christ's death, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, their tombs broke open and they were raised to life. And their subsequent appearance in the city of Jerusalem foreshadows what will happen to all those who have died with saving faith in Jesus Christ. For they will be raised to new life at the final judgment and inherit the New Jerusalem of heaven.

But, in a spiritual sense, if you are a born again baptized believer in Christ, you've already been raised from the dead. As Romans 6:3-4 asks, Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Jesus was referring to himself as the embodiment of the Temple of Jerusalem, when he foretold of his death and resurrection by saying, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." (John 2:19). Similarly, as a result of our being raised to new life in Christ, our bodies have become the very temples of the Holy Spirit. And just in the case of the latter Temple, in these latter days we find ourselves living in, God desires that we as His people would bring even greater glory to His name, as we point others to Jesus.

And while there's enough evidence for our Lord's Resurrection that you would be a damned fool to deny its validity, perhaps the greatest proof of our Lord's Resurrection are the changed lives as a result. Beginning with the disciples who had all forsaken Jesus during his sufferings and crucifixion, but after beholding the Resurrected Jesus, they were willing suffer all even to the point of dying for their faith. And today, we are the witnesses of our Lord's Resurrection, as the Holy Spirit works in us to love our the Lord with all our hearts, souls and minds and to love our neighbors as ourselves; in the way we invest our time, talents and treasures in light of eternity; the anchor of hope we have in the midst of life's storms that we have a solid rock in Jesus and His words of life; and in the hour of our death, as we demonstrate the confidence we have that because Jesus has shed his blood on Calvary to wash away our sins, we have forgiveness and eternal life with a specially prepared mansion waiting for us in heaven.

And so, we can join our Savior when he spoke his last words on the cross by praying the same words of the common Jewish bedtime prayer, "Father into your hands I commit my Spirit", knowing we're in the good hands of our Creator." And when our dead body is committed to the ground; "earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subdue all things to himself", the words of blessing are spoken afterward, May God the Father, who created this body, may God the Son, who by his blood redeemed this body, may God the Holy Spirit, who by Holy Baptism sanctified this body to be his temple, keep these remains to the day of the resurrection of all flesh.

Martin Luther was a man of many emotions. And just like you and me, there were times when he felt the deep sorrow and depression of living in a sinful world and suffering its consequences. One time he got so down in the dumps that it affected the rest of the house, especially his wife, Katie. Finally, she had enough of his moroseness and crabbiness. And so, she got up one morning and dressed up in her funeral clothes. When Luther saw her, he said in amazement, "My dear woman, who died?" To which Katie responded back, "No one, but the way you've been acting lately, it's as if Christ is still in the grave and hasn't risen from the dead!" By putting on her funeral clothes, Katie was able to jolt Luther out of his funk, and re-discover the joy and hope of the Resurrection he had lost in the midst of life's circumstances.

Admittedly, losing the joy of our salvation can be an easy thing to do, especially when we find ourselves dwelling on the sinful condition of this fallen world. But, when we keep in mind, the good news that trumps all other bad news, that "Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!", then the Holy Spirit will empower us to become living proof of the Resurrection in the way we live and what a difference our crucified and risen Lord has made in our lives. Consequently, we will witness to others that through Jesus we have been raised from the dead, as we let our light so shine before others that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven! (Matthew 5:16).

Alleluia! Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

Pastor Wendt

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