This is the second week of our new five week series called, Resurrection of the righteous. It comes from the words of Jesus in speaking about holding a banquet and inviting those who cannot repay you so that you may be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. We hear about resurrection often in relationship to Jesus. In fact if there was no resurrection it is likely we would not be talking about Jesus at all. So what does resurrection mean? How are we to participate in the resurrection of Christ? What does it mean to be the righteous? We will look at these things over the next few weeks in the context of the Sunday over the next weeks.
Resurrection is the principal event of the life of Jesus. It brings new life and Jesus resurrection is the basis of all resurrection for everyone, everywhere. We read, “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12) Resurrection is more than an event for one man it happens everywhere. Seemingly all is resurrection.Resurrection is more than an event for one man it happens everywhere. Seemingly all is resurrection. Click To Tweet
Last week we looked at resurrection through the lens of becoming rich in what matters to God. We recognize that building up treasure on earth does us no good, the treasure that really matters is stored with God. We build up this treasure through service to others, building up Christian community, recognizing Christ dwells in us and sharing about the Kingdom of God. We do these things and we become righteous in the eyes of God.
We recognized that resurrection changes Christ and us, it is the founding event for Christianity. We discussed other things about resurrections; we have no physical description of the resurrection of Christ. It is bigger than a single event in the life of one man, many were seen after the resurrection who had come out of tombs. Resurrection is not resuscitation. Resurrection impacts all creation. At death Christ descends to the dead and brings life to all who have gone before.
The readings this week point us towards building up treasure in heaven. We discussed that storing treasure on earth is no good so how do we go about building up treasure in heaven? Well our readings speak to us about faith, the faith of the Hebrew people who trusted God and lived a sacrifice and meal called the Passover. We see it in Abraham who trust God and becomes know as the father of faith. We see it in Jesus message to sell everything and be ready for the return of the Son in judgement and resurrection. Through faith we store treasure that God will hold for us as he declares us righteous.
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Wisdom 18:6-9; Psalms 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48. The readings guide us to build up treasure in heaven where this treasure can be used to make us righteous and faith is critical to building treasure.
In the first reading from the book of Wisdom we read about the Passover, it is the story of two contrasting things that happen through God. The Hebrew people celebrate the Passover meal, all of them committing themselves to share “blessings and dangers” and in this way they are as a people consecrated to God, singing hymns of praise and following God’s instruction. The Egyptians meanwhile go to bed not knowing that during the night their first born son will be taken from them for not listening to God’s agent Moses about freeing the Hebrew people. The Hebrew people follow the instruction of God building up treasure for themselves. They offered sacrifice and began a divine institution that initiates a covenant relationship with God that last through history. Meanwhile the Egyptians who are rich in worldly things, suffer and ache for not listening and creating treasure in heaven. We must recognize when God has something for us to do it is to our advantage to follow, not because we fear punishment but because we are building up margin with God. God wants us to be righteous, to enjoy the resurrection of the righteous. We should do what we can to follow God’s word building up our relationship with him, storing treasure in heaven.We must recognize when God has something for us to do it is to our advantage to follow, not because we fear punishment but because we are building up margin with God. Click To Tweet
In the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews we read about Abraham, known as the father of faith. We read how faith in Abraham was strong and his trust in God was total. God made Abraham father of “descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore” even though he had no descendant in his old age. When his only son Isaac was born Abraham was willing to sacrifice him at God’s request, knowing that with God even raising someone from the dead was possible. Abraham through his faith built up treasure in heaven and God watched over and cared for Abraham and his family. Abraham obeyed all that God desired of him and God kept his promises to Abraham. Because of the faith of Abraham we know faith is “the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” It is through faith in God that we too can build up treasure in heaven, we can be the righteous of God like Abraham. In faith we look to God for all we need and God responds. Like Abraham we should be willing to change our lives, go where God wants us to go, sacrifice as God wishes us to sacrifice, though faith. In so doing we are truly the righteous of God and will be part of the resurrection of the righteous like Abraham and his family.Because of the faith of Abraham we know faith is 'the realization of what is hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.' It is through faith in God that we too can build up treasure in heaven. Click To Tweet
In the gospel reading from Luke Jesus is teaching his disciples. He says to them the most spoken line in scripture, do not be afraid. He tells them because of what they have done their treasure is in heaven where no thief can reach it or moth destroy it. They can sell all they have because the Father is pleased to give them the kingdom. He goes on to say blessed are they who are ready for the coming of the master, even though the master’s arrival time is unknown. Be ready and vigilant because the master will be very pleased to find his servants ready. Of course he is speaking to them about his return and the judgement of many. Those who are faithful will be prepared and will be rewarded. Those who are unfaithful will be punished. Jesus is teaching his disciples to be ever ready for the second coming, to be unattached and only commit to the work of the kingdom. By being ready we will be showing the faith that will provide treasure in heaven. So when the Son of Man returns he will find the faithful ready and working toward the kingdom. Finding us this way he says the Father will be pleased to give us the kingdom. Surely anyone who knows when a thief will come to steal from them will be prepared, but blessed are those who don’t know, are prudent and ready.Jesus is teaching his disciples to be ever ready for the second coming, to be unattached and only commit to the work of the kingdom. By being ready we will be showing the faith that will provide treasure in heaven. Click To Tweet
As disciples our faith is recognized not through words but through deeds. When we live in complete trust in God, know the word spoken is true and we are ready for anything in the Lord, we are called a faithful servant. The faithful servant is righteous and will be part of the resurrection of the righteous. As disciples we have been entrusted with the word of God and the duty to share this word with others so they too may be ready. Resurrection will happen to everyone and everything. Jesus would like all to be in the resurrection of the righteous, in order for this to happen we must introduce others to his word. Because we have been given much, much is expected of us, and much more will be given to us in the resurrection of the righteous.
We depend on faith to know God, but lately it seems we want certitude. Faith means we don’t know for sure but we trust and hope. Today are we becoming people who need all our questions answered? Are we unable to hold the tension of a mystery in our hearts and minds? Do we live at a time when people say if God is real why doesn’t he show himself to us? Some have called it a lust for certitude, a lust for explanation, a demand that I will know. Even institutional religion seems to be insisting on answers. Tradition is declared based on authorities of the church with reasons and answers why things are, how they came to be and what we are to believe. Laws and commands are created to help answer questions and organize congregations and followers. Seminaries are graduating experts who are expected to know all the answers for everything and everybody. It is impossible and arrogant and it undermines faith.Seminaries are graduating experts who are expected to know all the answers for everything and everybody. It is impossible and arrogant and it undermines faith. Click To Tweet
We need to give up our need for certitude. We must learn to live in the reality of not knowing. We must accept that God wants us to live in humility, and let the mystery of God and his plan be something we can live without knowing but trusting is good. By being faithful, trusting God and not needing to know everything we will find peace, we will discover wisdom which comes from God. This was always known as faith, the not knowing but trusting and it is God’s true path to righteousness.Being faithful, trusting God and not needing to know everything we will find peace, we will discover wisdom which comes from God. Click To Tweet
Through these readings we see how important faith is in building up treasure in heaven. God wants our belief in him. God wants us to trust him and know that all we need will be provided. Having the faith of the Hebrew people as they prepared and celebrated that first Passover, having the faith of Abraham whose trust in God about his descendants and how to live was so obvious he became known as the father of faith and trusting the word of Jesus to have faith to be ever vigilant for the coming of the Lord to provide the kingdom, these are example of faith in action. We must show our faith and God will show us treasure in heaven.
Resurrection of the righteous
At the beginning of his public ministry Jesus is asked where he is staying and his response is come and see. When Jesus calls Peter and Andrew from the gospel of Matthew he tells them to “Come after me.” (Matthew 4:19) For Jesus there is no set of instructions or a map to becoming a disciple. When Jesus is looking for disciples, and when we want to be a disciple it is always a call to follow. Jesus called many during his ministry, even tax collectors, considered sinners by the local culture. Jesus saw “a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9) We even read of a rich young man who asked Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life. Jesus tells him follow the commandments, sell everything and follow me. There are many verses in which we can read where Jesus is either calling someone to follow him or great crowds are following him. To be a disciple of Jesus is to follow.To be a disciple of Jesus is to follow. Click To Tweet
Following is not only intended for those who can physically touch and see Jesus as he walked the earth. Jesus intends this follow to live eternally. We today must follow Jesus living as he lived and being resurrected as he was resurrected. The arc of Jesus life, death and resurrection is a pattern that we all will follow. As we discussed last week resurrection happens to everyone and everything. Following death there is new life, everything is brought back in some way.We today must follow Jesus living as he lived and being resurrected as he was resurrected. Click To Tweet
Jesus was not subtle in telling us to follow him, even in resurrection. When he tells his disciples that he will enter into his passion in the long prayer in John’s gospel, Peter asks, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered [him], “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” (John 13:36) Peter likely doesn’t understand but eventually Peter dies and is resurrected in Christ. Resurrection is everything and is for everyone.Resurrection is everything and is for everyone. Click To Tweet
When we accept to follow Jesus we are accepting a path to resurrection, not only a resurrection but a resurrection of the righteous. To be righteous is to be in right relationship with God. It means we have faith in God and we put our trust in God. We live to serve others and we put others before ourselves. Having this right relationship with God we are promised the resurrection of the righteous, we will be with Christ and all who follow him.
But following is offered in freedom. The gospels provide a message of freedom, we are told we are free and we witness that we are free to do anything, even kill the Son of God. This freedom is not limited in any way through the gospels or the message of those who live according to its example. The gospels can only give us examples of how to use our freedom. We can witness the message of Jesus, his death and resurrection and in seeing learn how to use our freedom to follow. We see the life that Jesus lived, using his freedom to do the will of the Father and providing all of his being for others, and we should learn that our freedom is to do the same. If we use our freedom for personal and selfish ideals, we are not following and we may not be in the resurrection of the righteous, rather resurrected for the unrighteous.We can witness the message of Jesus, his death and resurrection and in seeing learn how to use our freedom to follow. Click To Tweet
It is when we identify with the person in need or who has been victimized, we encounter the Christ. Christian faith emerges when followers see Jesus as the real fulfillment of what had been promised, true freedom and life. Holding on to Jesus, following in faith, we affirm God’s plan and we are made righteous. Any disciple should be able to imitate Jesus and stand up for him. Through this imitation, we become the righteous resurrected.Any disciple should be able to imitate Jesus and stand up for him. Through this imitation, we become the righteous resurrected. Click To Tweet
Notice we are not saying it is by being worthy that we become the resurrection of the righteous. Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him three times. After resurrection Christ says nothing to Peter about his failing. His disciples all scatter when Jesus is arrested and Christ says nothing to any of them about their fear and running. It is not possible that we could be worthy for what God wants us to have. It is Jesus alone who acts as God would like all of us to act. Jesus lives completely for the Father and his will. We read, “For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) It is through Christ that we are led to God, that we are able to become a disciple and one of the resurrected righteous.It is Jesus alone who acts as God would like all of us to act. Click To Tweet
Looking at the Apostles we can see a pattern, they are called, and they follow Jesus. In time they fall away, they deny, they scatter, they hide and they go back to their lives not speaking about Jesus and his life. But then they meet the resurrected Christ and their conversion is complete, they give their all to bring Christ to others. This is a common pattern, there is meeting Christ, falling away and then full resurrection through conversion. It is the pattern even in the Garden of Paradise, Adam and Eve know God, they fall away and then they too are resurrected through Christ. In a way conversion, that full conversion is truly resurrection. It makes an argument that it is awareness of guilt that leads to forgiveness and a return to righteousness. We must know we need forgiveness and that it comes through Christ. But we cannot go straight to Christ, we must die and be resurrected. It is in the resurrection we are righteous.There is a common pattern, there is meeting Christ, falling away and then full resurrection through conversion. Click To Tweet
Resurrection is change, it makes us different, new, converted to Christ. It is not something we earn, it is gift, fulfilled through Christ first and then available to all. While everyone and everything is resurrected, we desire the resurrection of the righteous. Our readings describe the need for faith. It is because of faith that we desire resurrection of the righteous. It is with faith that we work to store treasure in heaven. It is with faith that we have a full conversion and give our life to God for others. Our faith builds us treasure in heaven.
As we have said above, resurrection changes Christ and us. Resurrection is the founding event for Christianity. We have no physical description of the resurrection of Christ. It is bigger than a single event in the life of one man, many were seen after the resurrection who had come out of tombs. Resurrection is not resuscitation. Resurrection impacts all creation. At death Christ descends to the dead and brings life to all who have gone before. Conversion is resurrection and conversion requires faith. We have faith in these things and we look forward to our resurrection.
We will continue to look at other aspects of the resurrection of the righteous over the next several weeks. Hopefully you are beginning to see resurrection is everything.