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Posted: June 28, 2012 8:13 p.m.

Life from death

A father loses his 9-year-old daughter in a car accident; other families grieve the killings of two at a funeral; a woman watches her man die of cancer; a man backs out of the driveway and over his nephew, killing him. How do you handle things like that?

Now these headlines may be slightly more dramatic or rare, but I'm guessing there's not a one of you reading this that hasn't ever grieved a death of someone close to you. So I'll ask you the same question. How do you handle it? How is it possible to deal with death - the finality of it, the horror of it, the questions that always accompany it? How do you deal with it?

Today, God's word shows us. And to get there, I want us to start at the end of the story recorded in 1 Kings 17, where the woman says, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth." Today, let's see how we can say, even in the face of death, "Now I know...that the word of the Lord...is the truth."

Let's look at how we get there. Read 1 Kings 17. The story of the widow at Zarepheth is amazing, but I have to skip ahead to the death part. God worked an amazing miracle through this foreigner providing for his prophet Elijah with oil and flour never running out, but the biggest thing was yet to come.

You see, after she had been so faithful and done what God said, God took her son. Her one family member was dead. That wasn't fair, was it?

We see her getting angry...angry at God and at his prophet, "What do you have against me?!" We see her blaming herself: "Was this because of my sin?"

But then God's prophet showed her the solution: Prayer. And his prayer was bold. Elijah takes the boy and then asks God to do something that no one has ever done. God had never done it to this point yet either. Elijah asks for what is actually, physically, realistically impossible. He asks God to raise this child. And then Elijah stretches out on him three times, and the boy comes back to life.

It was an impossible situation. It was hopeless...until he turned to God. And what God did brought an even greater miracle to the mouth of this woman. Look at what she says: "Now I know... that the word of the Lord... is the truth." Why? Because God brought life from death.
That is the beating heart of all our hope. God has brought life from death -for you. Paul makes it clear in Ephesians 2: "You were dead in your transgressions and sins." Every single time you've failed to love perfectly or forgive, every time you've been selfish or hurtful or proud - that's death. The wages of sin is death. And then when we react to the results of sin in our lives and try to blame God or get angry at God when something bad happens to us or we lose a loved one... "Dead in our transgressions and sins." That death that shatters our lives - it should hold us forever.

But our God has brought life from death. Into our world of death and decay, sin and its sorrow, God sent life. He sent the light of life, his Son. And Jesus came to take all of our death and its symptoms - our pain, our sorrow, our guilt, our shame. He took them all. He stretched out his arms in blessing as he rose and ascended to the place of all authority, where he rules all things for us, to give us life.

Our God gives life in death.

Who cares if it was impossible? God did it.

After Elijah prayed, he came back to that woman and was able to announce that something new to our universe had just happened: "Look your Son is alive!" Today, you have a greater message. "Look, God's Son is alive!" Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! So you have life and can handle every death.

In Him,
Amen.

Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Worship every Sunday is at 10:30am. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.

 

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