In Your Face, Death!

by The Rev. Mark Buetow

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Hallelujah! Booyah! Jesus died for our sins but then came back to life, rose again on the third day. The Easter season is a celebration of our Lord's triumph over sin and death. It is a time to hear that we can poke death in the eye! Death can't hurt us! Oh, it can kill us, but it can't keep us down. Because it couldn't keep Jesus down into Whom you have been baptized. His resurrection means your resurrection on the Last Day. Now we laugh at Death and mock it as St. Paul does, "Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?"  

Easter means first of all that Death is defeated forever. Jesus told Martha, "Whoever believes in me, even though he dies, shall live." We confess this in the Creed: "I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting." Job said it, "Even though my skin will be destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God." Easter means that we will rise from the dead. When we die, we aren't just spirits floating around clouds forever. No, our Lord is going to raise our BODIES from the dead. Eternal life will be a physical life. A glorified body. A resurrection body. But still a body.  

This robs Death of the fear it can bring. What is death? Are you afraid of dying? Now that Jesus has died and risen, Death is just a nap. It's like a big, giant, snarling, snapping pit bull being suddenly turned into nothing more than a yapping Chihuahua! To die is to do nothing other than fall asleep for while. What happens when you go to sleep? You close your eyes and then open them and suddenly its hours later. Same with death. We close our eyes and open them and it is as if no time has passed and we are with our Lord. This is why over and over in the Scriptures, especially after Easter, death is referred to as "falling asleep." Death is scary. A nap is not scary. Death is an enemy. A nap is rest. Death has lost its sting and power since Jesus rose from the dead. So put all your fears to rest. Christ is risen and Death ain't all that anymore! 

But Easter isn't just for later. It's not just for the day you die. Christ's defeat of death for you is not just about the promise of your rising from the dead. No, it's also a promise for now. For today. For every day of your life. That's what your Baptism is about. The Bible says that "you have been baptized with Christ have been buried with Him in His death." His death and victory over sin is now yours in holy baptism. That means that our lives are different now. First of all, as we've said, you don't have to fear death. But you also don't have to fear its backward working symptoms. It's what? Let me explain. 

Death affects us our whole life. It's like it's working backwards from the day we die, causing us to suffer and be sick and miserable. We fear getting old. We fear dying. We fear getting sick. We suffer those things because of death and sin and the curse. And our sinful flesh then concludes that we need to do whatever it takes to avoid death and suffering. And that usually means putting ourselves first. Stepping on others. Making me number one so that I can enjoy this life before I croak. Anyone and everyone had better do what I want. That's death thinking. That's living as if Death matters and can hurt you. Repent of living and acting as if Death somehow matters! 

Rather, the resurrection of Jesus means new life. A life without sin. Not that we don't sin. But that sin can't condemn us. That sin doesn't rule us. The Holy Spirit lives in us. He works in us through our Baptism and Jesus' Word and body and blood to make us live as if Death is no big deal. Because it isn't! It's been defeated! Jesus' defeat of Death means something for our lives now, namely, that we can live joyfully serving others because we know how things will turn out. It doesn't matter what we might suffer here. It doesn't matter that we'll died someday. That's all been taken care of by God's Son who took your place and earned you eternal life. So no fear of death! Only life and living for you, child of God! 

So what about Death? In your face, Death. You ain't nothin'! Death is defeated. When Death comes knocking, just have Jesus answer the door and Death will go running away. Yeah, you're going to die someday. But that's just the same as falling asleep. Only when you wake up on the Last Day, it won't be to an alarm clock and a first hour exam! It will be to the joys of eternal life with Jesus and His church forever and forever. Happy Easter Season!

Created: May 1st, 2009