The Perspective Death Brings….

Woodcut by Hans Brosamer of the Baptism of Chr...

Woodcut by Hans Brosamer of the Baptism of Christ in the 1550 Frankfurt edition of the Small Catechism of Martin Luther (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day

51  But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52  It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53  For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 54  Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55  O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56  For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57  But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 (NLT) 

For if Christ by the touch of his most innocent flesh has hallowed all waters, yes, even all creation, through baptism, how much more has he by the same touch of his most innocent flesh and blood sanctified every form of death, all suffering and loss, every curse and shame for the baptism of the Spirit, or the baptism of blood!22 Of this baptism of suffering he says in Luke 12 [:50], “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!” Here you see how he is constrained, how he pants and thirsts to sanctify sufferings and death and to make them things to be loved, for he saw how we stand in fear of sufferings, how we tremble and shrink from death. Therefore, as a godly pastor and faithful physician, he hastens to set limits to this our evil, and is impatient to die and by his touch to commend suffering and evil to us. [i]

I was doing my sermon study this morning, when up popper this deep quote from Luther.
Deep because it seem odd to commend suffering and death (the evil) to those God calls His own.  Indeed, it seems awkward, and perhaps a little evil in its own right.   How can death be a good thing?  How can an end to life as we know it be a blessed moment?  How can we deal with such times, as several of my friends who have passed in the last few years have, with anticipation and joy?

It is challenging, it requires faith, trusting in God’s promises for things that even those of us who have died cannot conceive of.  (Twenty years ago this week I flatlined and had to be shocked by defibrillators 5 times)

I love Luther’s take on this, as He looks at Jesus’ desire to embrace death, for what it means for you and me.  That Jesus was oppressed, constrained, anxious and focused to die, to embrace the suffering and death of the cross,.  Hebrews 12 tells us it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross, despising the shame.  It was for the joy set before Him!  What joy?  Not just the joy of freeing us from sin that had us caught in its deathly trap, robbing us of life and joy, but the joy of sharing in His resurrection, joy of sharing in the Life that He came to bring us.  To invite us to a dance, a wedding reception where we are the honored one, the very partner, the bride of Christ.

It is in our baptism that this is made so sure, even as we are bonded, united with Christ.

This is what makes a difference, this is what I’ve seen make a difference in what some would count as too many lives.

Yet they knew – they comprehended this incredible depth of God’s love – which turns the death of a believer, and even what they endure on the way… into the greatest of joys.

That’s perspective that we all need to gain, as we live our lives, as we complain about our trials, as we wonder if it is worth it all.

Look to the cross… look at how it doesn’t just take away the sting and fear of death, but it shatters that which would make death the end…. because of the Love of God, with whom those who trust Him will dwell…..

Be at peace… have no fear, no anxiety… God is with us…

22 Luther alludes here to the three kinds of baptism: by water, i.e., sacramentally administered; by fire, i.e., by the Spirit, apart from sacramental administration; and by blood, i.e., the shedding of blood in martyrdom. Cf. PE 1, 138, n. 1.

[i] Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 42: Devotional Writings I. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 42, p. 142). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on August 13, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

I love to know your thoughts on this... please respond!

%d bloggers like this: