Christ Holds Dale Into And Out Of The Grave


Text: Romans 14:7-9

In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

Perhaps one of the most painful things about death is that it has a way of separating us from loved ones.  For example, when death strikes, it ends a marriage. It also ends fatherhood and motherhood.  Death ends friendships.  Indeed, death seems to function like a giant wedge that forcefully divides us from our loved ones.  One day things are completely fine; the next day, death strikes, and we find ourselves completely severed from our loved ones.

Now, I certainly do not have to expound on this much in great detail, for you are all currently experiencing this forceful wedge of death right now. Death has indeed acted like a cruel wedge that has slammed right in between everyone and Dale. All the memories, all the time, all the joy, and fun together with Dale – severed from you.  Death comes down like a heavy hammer with no sympathy – it is like a rusty wedge that severs with no compassion.  And as a result, here we sit, cut off from our loved ones.  For this, I am so sorry.  Irene, I am so sorry for this pain. 

And so, is there any comfort for us right now? 

Irene, family, and friends, listen to our Epistle Reading, which has a word of comfort for you in this time of distress.  Yes, listen to the comforting word:

“If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord.  So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

Irene, family, and friends, you see, it is indeed true that death has divided you from Dale.  Death has acted like a nasty wedge that has severed ties of love and care.  But listen again to the words of the Apostle Paul:

“So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”

Now, did you hear what the Apostle Paul said about death and Christ?  Keep in mind that Paul is not offering you some silly pious sentiments.  These words are not sappy words that are meant to make you feel warm and fuzzy for a moment and then vanish the next.  No, the Apostle Paul is leaving nothing to our imaginations.  He is not speaking religious fluff.  He is not playing with your emotions.  But instead, Paul is telling you and me how it is with Christ and death. 

Let me state this one more time, making it really personal:

“If Dale were still living, he would belong to the Lord.  If Dale were to die, he would belong to the Lord.  And so, whether it is Dale in life or Dale in death, Dale belongs to the Lord.”     

Let’s make it even more personal:

“Today, alive, you belong to the Lord. But if you were to die today, you would belong to the Lord as well.  And so, give me life or give me death, it does not matter because I belong to Christ!”

And so, to be perfectly clear, what the Apostle Paul is telling you and me is that death cannot end the Lord’s possession of us.  Our dying does not drive a wedge between Christ and us.  Death does not cause us to slip from the hands of Christ.  Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to Christ; Jesus never lets go of us. 

Irene, family, and friends, take comfort right now with these words from the Apostle Paul.  In your pain, lookup through your tears to Christ.  Yes, look to Christ and hear the good news that regardless of life or death, you belong to the Lord – you are His precious possession.  You belong to Christ because Christ has paid the ransom for your redemption.  In life and beyond the grave, you are Christ’s own, in all eternity. 

But what about Dale?  What about this current wedge caused by death with Dale?  What can be said about all of this?   

Well, that’s the thing, if you and I are in Christ – and Christ holds us in life – and Dale is in Christ – and Christ holds Dale in death – are we really that separated from each other?  No, we are not. 

Irene, even though the pain of death is great right now, hear this:  you are in Christ; Dale is in Christ.  You have the same Lord; the same Lord has you.  And so, even though death has stung Dale, you both are not forever separated.

What this means is that you will see Dale again, Irene.  At the great resurrection, Dale will be raised to immortality.  And both you and Dale will be given new bodies, never to be separated by death again. Christ will make all things new at that great last day; there will be no more hunger, no more thirst, and no more tears.  But there will be dancing, joy, and laughter – the kind of joy and laughter that comes out of little children who have just opened a gift on Christmas morning. 

Is death painful?  Does it sever?  Does it act like a wedge?  You bet.  No one has said that death is easy.  But nonetheless, today, we shall not let death have the final word.  We will not leave this sanctuary as if the wedge of death is all that there is.  No!  Today and right now, we shall lift up our chins and cling to Christ, as He clings even more to us.  We grieve for our loss of Dale, yet we make a fist and grit our teeth, knowing that the same Lord who holds us now, holds Dale right now as well.  And so, we know that everything is going to be alright because of Christ Jesus. 

Irene, family, and friends Christ holds you.  And take comfort, even though death has stung our brother Dale, Christ holds him into the grave and will hold him out of the grave.  Christ has authority over life and death; He will make all things new.

In the name of Jesus.  Amen. 

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