He Speaks To Dead People

Text: Luke 7:11-18

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

One of the eeriest things about death is when you talk to a recently deceased person, and they don’t talk back.  For example, we can sit next to a person on their death bed or stand next to their coffin and say through our tears and grief, “I love you; I will miss you; thank you for the memories,” …and then nothing happens.  Even though we may full well know that they have died, the silence and lack of response are frightening and troubling.  You see, there is a small part of us that expects and wants them to open their eyes and respond back just one last time. But when they don’t respond to our voice, it is disturbing.  It hurts.  It is uncomfortable. 

Now considering this, why are we so nervous by the lack of response?  Well, to be frank, the lack of response is because we cannot speak to the dead; they cannot hear us.  And the reason why they cannot hear us is not that they have deaf ears, but because they have dead ears.  And that is why the silence is so very painful.  Their lack of response to our words is just another way of showing us that the hideous monster of death has devoured them.  And once death has devoured our loved ones, the only thing left for us to do is to trudge behind the coffin of death to the cemetery and dark grave. 

Following behind a coffin is exactly where we find the woman in our reading this morning.  In our reading from the Gospel of Luke, we hear that the woman of Nain had lost her only son.  She had lost her husband sometime before this too.  And I am sure that the woman at Nain, had spoken all of her words of love and adoration to her beloved son, and like us, was met with cold silence.  And so, with fresh grief, the woman and a crowd of people carried the dead son out of the town to be buried.  And as they took the dead son out of the town to be buried, there was much weeping, as death was carrying its prey to its lair of the grave. 

But that day, though, something happened.  As death carried its prey to the grave, it was met by the Prince of Life.  You see, at the gates of the city of Nain, we have a most dramatic scene.  At the head of the one crowd is a victim of death – the dead son.  At the head of the other crowd is the Lord of life – Jesus Christ.  Two crowds: one stricken with death and the other led by life.  And right there at the city gate of Nain, they meet.  They collided.  Death and Life – face to face. 

Now, we must slow down here and consider what is happening in our Gospel reading.  Listen to what happens.  Jesus looks at the woman and says, “Do not weep.”  And then Jesus comes to the dead son, stops the procession of death, and says to the dead son, “Young man, I say to you arise.”  And the dead son sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave the son back to his mother. 

What just happened? 

What happened is that Jesus spoke to a dead corpse and the corpse listened.  Jesus spoke to dead ears, and they heard.   Those dead ears heard because Jesus caused them to hear, and then life came forth in the man as Jesus commanded. Otherwise stated, Jesus spoke, and death released its bite, and the young man was brought back from the dead.  Jesus did the impossible, and He did it by speaking. 

Dear friends, this is our Jesus.  He is the defeat of death and the raiser of the dead.  And to accomplish this, He speaks.  No magic pill and no medical procedure are needed for Jesus, but rather His voice is stronger than death.  Jesus’ voice did not fall on dead ears but made dead ears alive.  The words of Jesus were not something for death to snack on in its jaws.  But like a scared little poodle, death released its bite and scurried away at the sound of Jesus’ voice. 

Think of the implications of this regarding death.  Do our words have authority over death?  No, they do not.  We speak to death, and death does not listen but gives us the cold shoulder.  Furthermore, death will not allow our deceased loved ones to respond or hear us.  And so, we curse at death and death does not care or respond.  We cry out to our deceased loved ones, “Wake up!  Wake up!  Don’t die!” but they cannot hear or respond.  But with Jesus, things are different.  Jesus speaks to dead people, and dead people hear Jesus.  Death cannot keep Jesus’ words from dead people, and Jesus’ words make dead people hear and come back to life.

And make no mistake about it, dear friends, this does not only apply to the city of Nain but is the consistent pattern of Jesus. 

You see, Nain was not just an isolated event, but rather, Nain is a clear picture of what happens when Jesus encounters death.  Nain shows us the power of Jesus’ words.  We see the power of Jesus’ voice throughout all the Gospels. 

Jesus speaks, demons are driven out of people. 

Jesus speaks, the waves become calm. 

Jesus speaks, the blind see.

Jesus speaks, the deaf hear. 

Jesus speaks, people are healed. 

Jesus speaks, the dead come back to life. 

And let us not forget that this applies to you today as well. You see, when you were baptized, Jesus called you out the deadness of your sin and brought you from the kingdom of darkness to life, where He gave you ears to hear His voice.  And what does His voice consistently say to you in the Word and Sacraments?  He says that even though you are a poor miserable sinner that your sins are forgiven! 

And there is more, at the end of the age, the Lord will speak to you when you are 6-feet under – in the grave.  Even though you will have several tons of soil above you, being sealed in a cement vault, inside a metal coffin, with dead ears, you will hear Jesus’ resurrecting voice.  Yes, the Lord Himself promises to descend from heaven with the cry of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the Lord will command you who have died, to come out of the grave. And like that son at the city of Nain, even though you will have dead ears, you will hear and will sit up alive. Death will release its grip. Your grave will burst forth, and you will rise!  Yes, from your graves 6-feet under, you will someday hear the voice of Jesus and will come out of those graves alive – resurrected with new bodies unto everlasting life.[1]   

Dear Baptized Saints, whether it is the dead son at Nain, or whether it is your loved one who passed away, or whether it is you when the voice of Jesus calls forth to the baptized, death must release its grip.  When Jesus calls forth to His baptized, they will hear His voice. 

Therefore, dear Baptized Saints, you need have no fear of death. Your grave is conquered; the victory is yours through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ will call out to you someday, and His voice will not fall on dead ears, but you will hear Jesus’ voice calling you out of the grave, and death will be forced to let go of its grip on you.  And then you will sit up with life (fully alive), like the young man at Nain, and will say, “The Lord God has looked favorably upon me.  Glory be to You O Christ.  God be praised. I hear the voice of my Savior!  I am alive!”     

In the name of Jesus: Amen. 

[1] See John 5:28-29

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