- Written by Pastor Shawn Nettleton Pastor Shawn Nettleton
- Created: March 29 2019 March 29 2019
On Ash Wednesday, we were reminded of what we know all too well: “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19) The endless list of obituaries, the empty seats around the dinner table and our own physical pain and illnesses all remind us of the sobering reality that we are dying, that death is our number one enemy.
Not only are we dying, but we live in a culture of death. A culture that seeks, chooses and revels in death, not life. We live in one of six states where assisted suicide is legal under the cloak and the lie of “dying with dignity.” We live in a country where 10,000 third trimester, late term abortions occur every year and where over 61 million innocent lives have been killed since Roe v. Wade; nearly 50 times the number of American soldiers killed in every war we have fought.
We live in a country where some 21 million people are addicted to some type of drug, another sixteen million are addicted to alcohol, and where 100 people die every day from some type of drug overdose. We live in a culture where addictions to sex, pornography, work, gaming, gambling, eating or not eating all destroy lives, relationships and families. We live a culture of death and darkness, a world of disorder and chaos, a world that is broken and dying.
It is into this world of death and darkness, this complete and utter mess, that our Lord Jesus comes. To a world of death and darkness, He comes to bring light and life! In our midweek Lenten series, "Behold the Man," we have reflected on the humanity of our Lord Jesus. In Jesus of Nazareth God has a real flesh and blood body with real skin and a real face, real hands, fingers, feet and toes. He is a man who could be spit on, slapped and punched in the face. He is a man whose temptation was real. He was tempted in every way that we are but was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15) In Jesus, God was completely exposed (naked) on the cross and vulnerable. In Jesus, God was not only killable, but was in fact killed, put to death.
As we continue our Lenten journey toward holy week and Easter, take heart, comfort and courage that our dying and the death that is all around us will be swallowed up forever by our Lord Jesus. He not only suffered real death and the very punishment that we and this world deserve, but He also ate death whole and spit it out!
Isaiah reminds us that one day, the former things of this world shall not be remembered. The cancer and the drugs, the evil and the violence, the things that kill and destroy our lives and the sin that causes it all will be no more! God will create a new heavens and a new earth. And when He does there shall be no more mourning or weeping, “no more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days.” (Isaiah 65:20) Just as God vindicated His Son on the third day, so on the Last Day He will vindicate His people and restore all things (Revelation 21:5); finally and forever death will be dead, death will be no more!
While we wait for this greatest and last enemy to be destroyed once and for all (1 Corinthians 15:26), we are bold to defy its claim on us and shout aloud, “Jesus lives! The victory's won! Death no longer can appall me; Jesus lives! Death's reign is done! From the grave will Christ recall me. Brighter scenes will then commence; This shall be my confidence.” 1
Blessed Holy Week and Easter,
- Christian Fürchtegott Gellert, “Jesus Lives! The Victory's Won” in Lutheran Service Book (Concordia Publishing House, 2006), 490.
Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at nettleton@StJohnsFC.org or at 970-305-2420.