Rev. Brett Simek
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
A little less than a year and a half ago, my life changed forever. In about a week, the way I viewed myself, my relationship with my wife, my parents and siblings, and her parents and siblings changed. Even my relationship with God changed in just one week. A little less than a year and a half ago, my life changed forever when my son was born. When he was born, he had to go into the newborn intensive care unit because he had fluid in his lungs and wasn't getting the oxygen he needed. His lungs cleared up after a couple days and he was fine, but he had to stay in the hospital for a week because they were giving him medicine just in case.
So for a week, I stood over his crib in the hospital telling myself, my wife, and my new son what the doctors had told me, "He is fine." But no matter how many times I said it, out loud or in my head, I couldn't shake the fear and feeling of being powerless to help my son as he lay motionless, sleeping in that crib attached to those machines. It is a fear and a feeling and an emotion that I pray no parent ever has to feel, but it is a fear, a feeling and an emotion that I imagine Jairus felt as he saw his daughter dying and as he got news of her death. But as Jesus stands over lifeless children, He is not powerless, but...
Jesus gives life and food to the lifeless.
Any and every death is tragic. Whether it is a friend, an acquaintance, a parent, or a spouse, death is hard. But there is perhaps no harder death to endure than the death of a child. Ask any parent what they fear the most, and I would guess many of them would say the death of their child. And the death of a child before they are born is no easier. A stillborn child is a child all the same. Yet we are all stillborn children. We are all dead, not from our birth, but from our very conception. We are born, even conceived in sin. We are dead in our trespasses and sins from the very moment we are alive, from the very moment of conception.
We are conceived and born dead in our sin, lifeless and powerless to escape its grip on us. There is nothing we can do. There is nothing our parents can do that can save us from this death. There is nothing Jairus could do to save his daughter from her approaching death, and he knew it. So he, and we, look to the one place, to the one person, we know that can do something about it. And Jesus comes, and He stands over the lifeless body of this little girl, who is dead, and He says, "Little girl, I say to you, arise." And by His word, Jesus brings life to the lifeless and tells them to feed her.
And as your parents and your church stood over your lifeless, sinful body, Jesus washed you with water and spoke to you through your pastor and said, "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit I baptize you and say to you arise," and life and faith is brought to the lifeless, faithless, powerless sinner. From the baptismal font you arise, a new creation, a new child, not of sin and death, but of God. You are a child to be fed with the Word of God, brought up and taught the faith, and fed with the very Body and Blood of Christ given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.
It is by that very Body and Blood that you are given life. In His flesh and blood Jesus says to this girl, "arise," and He says to you, "arise." For in His flesh and blood Jesus has taken on your sin and death. He met it head on at His cross where He died for you. And His lifeless body was taken from the cross and placed into the grave. And as His Father stood over His lifeless body, He said, "Arise. You are righteous and holy." And rising from the dead, Jesus puts death to death and gives life to the lifeless, to you and to me.
And one day, our bodies will lay lifeless again. One day, after living our lives of sin and repentance, our sin will overcome us, we will breath our last, and the life will go out of us. Sinful child of God as you are, your Father will get the news, "Your child is dead." And our lifeless, sinful bodies will be laid to rest, to sleep in our graves.
One day, you will die and your death will be mourned-at least, for a little while...at least, until your Father stands over the bed where your lifeless body lays. And in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye and with the sound of the trumpet, Jesus will say to you, again, "Arise!" And you and all the dead will be raised in a resurrection like His. And the Father will say to you, "You are holy and righteous. Your sins have been forgiven for the sake of My Son. You shall live. Give him something to eat." And you will be given life and food and seated at the marriage feast of the Lamb and His kingdom to eat and drink for all eternity. You will be granted your crown of life, never to die, never to sin again, but to sit with Jesus in eternal pleasure. So "do not fear, only believe," that Jesus gives life and food to you. Amen.
Rev. Brett Simek is pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Jerseyville, IL. This sermon was preached at Bread of Life in Nashville, TN.
Created: July 18th, 2016