Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Creston & Mount Ayr, Iowa;
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”” (Isaiah 25:6–9, ESV)
(Outline from Concordia Journal, Homiletical Helps, April 8, 2012;
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Once LCMS Lutheran, Apple executive Steve Job said in his biography, “life/death—like a light switch—snap on, snap off. The end, nothing, forever.” Is that how it is? We would think not, pray not, hope not… but it graveside is when we feel it the most. Heavy hearts, heavy steps. We know it well, grief, death, burial. We have all been there. And even more fearful is the thought at every funeral, that we will all eventually be the guest of honor.
But we have Easter Morning. The empty tomb. The risen Lord. He is not dead. He has risen. And as Jesus himself said,
Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19, ESV)
Break out the Champaign! Let the party begin. Our text provides the picture. YHWH is on Mt. Zion. God is present with his people, the church. YHWH brings the food. Meat with full fat. The best wine. The thanksgiving meal is served. Jesus has broken death. His death on the cross and his resurrection are our victory over death, and not just any death… your death and mine! You and I will live forever at table of the Lord, the marriage feast of the Lamb of God.
Oh, but there’s always more with God. The resurrection means that what separates us from God has been dealt its deathblow. That is also the point to the feast, the celebration. We will die but we will live. The pain of death is only temporary, the separation, too. The veil of death lifted. But the veil of sin is also!
Sin? It is everywhere present. Today is seems to define our culture. But, make no mistake, it has always been so. Whatever God says is right and true is thrown under the bus. What God says is wrong is celebrated. God says marriage is the place for sexuality between a man and a woman. We say “No!” we normalize homosexuality, promiscuity, lust, pornography. God says we are to deal fairly and honestly with others. We say “No!” Greed is good! The poor are left to their own devices. God says worship him and him alone. We say “No!” All ways of worship are equal. All paths lead to the same place. Any god is as good as another, or no god at all, is even better. And “we” are as guilty as “they”. We are the “all” in the “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, ESV) Even in our own hearts lurks the evil, the capacity to do the most heinous sin.
Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24, ESV)
God can, and he does! We deserve his wrath and punishment. We deserve eternal death. We deserve hell. God could punish, but instead he does Easter. The once crucified, dead and buried Jesus
…was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:25, ESV)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24, ESV)
Jesus lifts the veil of sin. We have forgiveness. He is risen. We will rise. Sin’s power is mute.
And death, “swallowed up forever.”
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54–57, ESV)
The promise is now, and to be more later. “On that day”, says God, death will be done away with forever. There will be no more death. There is a day to come, a great feast day, when our Lord will return. And “on that day” it will be a done deal, promise completed in full.
At our funerals we have a Funeral Pall. It is a great white covering that goes over the casket. It tells us in death there is life. It is a reminder of the wedding garment required for entrance to the feast. The forgiveness of Jesus Christ, provided by God himself in Holy Baptism.
No more tears. No more sorrow. What God promises happens right here at the font. Baptism is death and resurrection, a promise of another fuller, complete, no sorrow only joy, bodily, physical resurrection.
And so now… we wait. Eagerly. Hopefully. Longingly. Grounded in our Lord’s resurrection.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” (1 Peter 1:3–4, ESV)
We stand in quiet confidence, in the face of whatever Satan, the world and our sinful flesh dish out against us. All of it is nothing in light of the salvation that God has accomplished for us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus’ grave is empty, as will be yours and mine, as will be those who have gone before us in the faith. That is his promise in his victory over death, his life. Nor more sorrow, no more sin, no more punishment, no more tears, except tears of joy. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.