This is the third week of a series called, Resurrection of the righteous. It comes from the words of Jesus in speaking about holding a banquet an inviting those who cannot repay you so that you will 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 in the context of the Sunday readings this and the next few 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
Two weeks ago 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.
Last week’s message spoke about building up treasure in heaven. The readings were about faith, the faith of the Hebrew people who trusted God and lived a sacrifice and meal called the Passover. We read about Abraham’s trust in God becoming known as the father of faith. We also read 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.
We recognized that resurrection changes Christ and us, it is the founding event for Christianity. Reading about resurrection we have no physical description of the resurrection of Christ and 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. We also learn of Jesus call to follow, this call begins our discipleship journey that continues following Jesus into resurrection. The impact of resurrection is so wide and broad there is nothing that is does not reach. Nothing dies, everything becomes something new.
In the readings this week we’ll focus on how opposition will be a part of our journey but if we keep eyes fixed on Jesus we will have the strength to make it through. We read that Jeremiah is opposed in his life but never stops proclaiming the word of God. Jesus is opposed to the point of crucifixion and never side steps his mission. We too will be opposed even by members of our own family and we should not let this stop us from our discipleship. We must keep faith in God, with eyes fixed on Jesus we will run right past any opposition to be God’s dedicated worker and included in the resurrection of the righteous.We must keep faith in God, with eyes fixed on Jesus we will run right past any opposition to be God’s dedicated worker and included in the resurrection of the righteous. Click To Tweet
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Jeremiah 38:4-6; Psalms 40:2, 3, 4, 18; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53. The readings guide us to push through opposition with our eye fixed on Jesus so we can follow him to the resurrection of the righteous.
In the first scripture from the Prophet Jeremiah we read the lowering of Jeremiah into a cistern, by order of the princes of the King. Jeremiah has been prophesying submission to the enemy so that the people will live and make a true conversion to God. The King did not put his trust in God, rather the King put his trust in his own power, his leaders and his soldiers. Because of this lack of trust the King is eventually killed and Jerusalem captured by the Babylonians. Jeremiah however is saved by a foreigner and will live. The lowering of Jeremiah into the cistern has been seen as a figure of the mystery of Christ, who was handed over by Pilate to the Jews, descended to the dead and resurrected from the dead. Jeremiah would certainly have died in the cistern (scripture often refers to hell as a cistern) if he was not saved by the foreigner named Ebed-Meleech. Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord but was opposed by the people and leaders and not heard. We see often those who are doing the work of God finding themselves in opposition from people of God. We also see that those serving God do not let it discourage them, they stay focused on the message of God. Sometimes it is through opposition that we are confirmed in knowing we are doing the work of God, it is a sign of being the righteous of God. This is the message we are focused on this week, that opposition is common and we should become more focused and prayerful when we are opposed. We will see it in Jesus, who was all good yet was opposed to the point of crucifixion. But Jesus never deviated from his mission or message and bringing resurrection to all of us. We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and all opposition and difficulty we be overcome. We will remain the righteous of God. Jeremiah is an example of someone who even when standing alone still shouted the word of the Lord.We see often those who are doing the work of God finding themselves in opposition from people of God. Click To Tweet
In the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews we read about persisting in faith and we will receive joy. Comparing the journey of faith and evangelization to a race, we must keep our eyes on the goal of the race, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus with faith. Jesus is our “leader and perfecter of faith,” he has blazed a trail of faith before us. Jesus knew the joy that was before him, in fact even in opposition he likely remained joyful, not growing weary or losing heart. Jesus takes his seat at the right of the throne, but likely feels such a sense of accomplishment being able to do the will of the Father and completing the goal. Like Jesus we will receive opposition, and it will come from those near us, those in our family, those in our church, those who claim to be followers of Jesus. To walk the path that Jesus walked is counter to cultural norms, and we get push back, even from those we trust and love. Jesus was viewed by his family as being out of his mind and they came to stop him (see Mark 3:21-35). But nothing could oppose Jesus that he would move away from his designated mission. Jesus succeeds despite the opposition and this is held as an example for us. We should shed every sin and burden that could hold us back, like a racer lightening the load for a good race. We should not lose heart in the face of opposition, we have not been opposed to the point of losing. For as long as we are breathing we have the ability to follow Jesus example. Like Jesus we should see opposition as encouragement that we are on the right course, running the best race. Persisting despite opposition is what the righteous do, it is why they are in the resurrection of the righteous.Like Jesus we will receive opposition, and it will come from those near us, those in our family, those in our church, those who claim to be followers of Jesus. Click To Tweet
The gospel reading from Luke further reinforces this message of opposition. It begins with Jesus saying he has come to bring a fire, to set the earth a blaze, which of course he has done. The fire for Jesus may seem like it is not burning as hot as in past years, but there is still great signs of Jesus influence all over the world. The baptism Jesus mentions is not a water baptism which he received from John the Baptist, but his own crucifixion and resurrection. Accomplishing his resurrection we now must look at everyone belonging to resurrection. Resurrection does not leave anyone out. We’ll encounter opposition to what Jesus wants accomplished, thus division. Jesus very specifically names that division is create by those very close to one another, father, mother, son, daughter even the in-laws. Jesus didn’t come so we would go to church for an hour on Sunday. Jesus came to change our lives completely. We are to live in communion with Jesus and bring it into the world. Today we have it backwards, we live in the world and go to Jesus an hour once a week, it is opposed to what Jesus intended. To truly follow Jesus we must completely dedicate our life to his message and by living this way we challenge those who are satisfied with an hour a week church lifestyle. Even those who work for churches struggle with giving over their entire life to Jesus, for many it is just a job. Jesus tells us these differing approaches will cause division, not peace. In fact if we are not opposed by someone who knows us, it could mean we are not working hard enough for Jesus.Accomplishing his resurrection we now must look at everyone belonging to resurrection. Resurrection does not leave anyone out. Click To Tweet Jesus didn’t come so we would go to church for an hour on Sunday. Jesus came to change our lives completely. Click To Tweet
If we are keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, particularly when opposed, then we are throwing off the works of darkness, we lose our old self and old ways, we don’t gossip or lie, we are not morally impure, we have no deceit, or malice. In fact we love, we serve others, putting others first; we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the ill, visit the imprisoned. We give to the point we are completely dependent on God for our own needs, and God takes care of our needs. It is rare to see such dedicated individuals today. Rather in today’s discipleship we get a lot of comparison, we determine we are better than someone else and that satisfies us. God doesn’t compare. We are not in the resurrection of the righteous if we are a little better than someone else.We give to the point we are completely dependent on God for our own needs, and God takes care of our needs. Click To Tweet
In fact God wants us to realize we are in this together. When someone is opposed to us because of what we do for Jesus God will use that opposition to move them closer, to get them to want to do more rather than oppose. Opposition shouldn’t stop us from keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus and living as Jesus lived. We too should look at those who oppose us and try to bring them closer to the family of God. We can help them love more and do more, putting others first, by loving them more. Our life is not our own, we live so others may know Christ and come to realize God loves them and wants to be near them. By bringing others to God we are on the path of the resurrection of the righteous.Our life is not our own, we live so others may know Christ and come to realize God loves them and wants to be near them. Click To Tweet
Through these readings we see two important messages for those seeking the resurrection of the righteous, we will be opposed and we should not take our eyes of Jesus. In opposition with eyes fixed on Jesus we will make it through. We read Jeremiah’s opposition could not deter him. Jesus was not distracted even with opposition from his family. We read we will be opposed by members of our family, we must not let this distract us. Keeping faith in God, with eyes fixed on Jesus we will make us an instrument of God’s will and included in the resurrection of the righteous.
Resurrection of the righteous
As relates to resurrection, opposition is important. If we are opposed there are two ways the opposition can go, deeper into opposition or we can find a way to change their opposition into agreement and cooperation. Jesus wants to start a fire because passion and emotion moves us, not information. It is important to know about Jesus but it is much more important to be passionate or emotional about Jesus. When we are passionate then we are in a position to do good for those who oppose good. Today much of the struggle to win converts is not because they are passionately opposed but these non followers are indifferent. They can take Jesus or leave him. In the end if they need to worry about Jesus then they might think about what to do. Jesus needs a blaze, so that people will catch fire and there is some emotion to allow them to see the truth of the message.Today much of the struggle to win converts is not because they are passionately opposed but these non followers are indifferent. Click To Tweet
This is important in resurrection because everyone is resurrected. The question becomes are they resurrected as righteous or unrighteous. God wants everyone to be in the resurrection of the righteous because we are all God’s creation. Jesus tells the story of the vine and the branches where God prunes the branches that are not producing good fruit. The message is; if you are not working toward the Kingdom of God, you have no reason to be attached to the Kingdom of God. What is interesting is that Jesus doesn’t indicate how we get on the vine to begin with, we must assume we all start on the vine and it is up to us if we remain or not.What is interesting is that Jesus doesn’t indicate how we get on the vine to begin with, we must assume we all start on the vine and it is up to us if we remain or not. Click To Tweet
It is the same with the Jews. When it came time for the first Passover, and the exit from Egypt, God did not separate good Jews and bad Jews, all were saved from their slavery. Moses told all the Jews about sacrificing a lamb and placing blood on the door posts.
In churches today it is easy to join (relatively speaking) but have you ever heard a way of getting out? You can join other churches but it doesn’t mean you left the church where you used to belong. We hear of many Roman Catholics joining other churches but as far as their history in the Catholic Church is concerned they are still a member, it is where we get the term “lapse Catholic.” There is no way to “uncatholic” yourself. The Body of Christ is a corporate body, we all belong which is God’s preferred choice. God wants all of his creation to live in and through Christ, be resurrected and in fact be in the resurrection of the righteous.God wants all of his creation to live in and through Christ, be resurrected and in fact be in the resurrection of the righteous. Click To Tweet
Reading Paul and others when they discuss sin we can get this sense of it being a corporate problem. First, we must not think of sin as telling a lie about going to church on Sunday or some other thing we think we are doing wrong. Sin truly is a separation from God. When we turn from God, we are in sin. As sinning individuals we are looking for our own glory. We want others to look at us as if we are the most important person alive. We seem to be drawn into this more and more through Social Media which dares us to show how great we are through story and picture. The sin most popular for the individual is thinking about ourselves more than any other, it blinds us from seeing God, or being with Jesus. For us to sin we require some action that puts ourselves first at the expense of others, our action takes away from others, including God.For us to sin we require some action that puts ourselves first at the expense of others, our action takes away from others, including God. Click To Tweet
So how is sin a corporate issue? The story told is that through Adam sin entered the world and through Christ sin is taken away. “For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,” (1 Corinthians 15:21-22) How can the action of one effect the consequences of many. It is through this corporate view that God has for humanity. God desires all to be part of the resurrection of the righteous and sees no action happens in isolation. There is a ripple effect to all that occurs. Can these ripples cause another to sin, perhaps, but certainly there is an impact on the lives of others. Everything is relationship, God is a three person relationship, we are created to be in relationship, and there should be no individualism. We do have individuality, which is good, but individualism leads to individuals sin.Everything is relationship, God is a three person relationship, we are created to be in relationship, and there should be no individualism. Click To Tweet
We depend on others, and others can lead us to God or effect our turning away from God. This relationship is shown strongest in Paul’s discussion of the Body of Christ as if it were a human body. Paul writes the body has many parts, yet it is one body. Can all be a foot or an eye, no, we need both, in fact we need all the parts of the body, even the weaker parts. In his reflection Paul writes, “that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26) If we look at suffering as sin, we determine one sin effects the entire body and honoring one person honors the entire body. (This is important when we think about those chosen.) We as individuals will likely have weakness and sin. But God is looking at the Body, how is the Body when it comes to sin. We will commit those sins thinking of ourselves before others, this will be measure against the impact on the Body. If our sin causes the Body to suffer as was deemed in the case with Adam, it requires the Body be saved through the reconciliation of Christ.If our sin causes the Body to suffer as was deemed in the case with Adam, it requires the Body be saved through the reconciliation of Christ. Click To Tweet
In the end God will determine who belongs in the resurrection of the righteous and who will not be included. Hopefully we recognize God treats things corporately, like a body. God looks at sin that effects the entire body, and righteousness as an impact on the entire body. Is the resurrection of the righteousness for all, of course. Does it mean we all must be transformed to recognize our role in the Body, this also seems true?
God is mercy and whatever we seem to do or give to God, God handles it. We are all much better off depending on the judgment of God than the judgement we would receive from other human beings. A God of Mercy continually works to forgive the sin of the Body of Christ and find ways to include it in the resurrection of the righteous.We are all much better off depending on the judgment of God than the judgement we would receive from other human beings. Click To Tweet
For our part we must put others first, avoid what leads us to sin, and love.
Resurrection changes everything, including how we look at sin. God desires we all love one another and recognize our role in the Body of Christ. Resurrection is for all, and we can count on God to make the best decision about resurrection of the righteous. We should be aware of God’s desire for corporate salvation. We are called to do our best to work through opposition, and in fact love those who oppose us while we keep our eyes fixed on Christ. We should want others to be part of the resurrection of the righteous, which means we should be living in a way that those who see us want to live as we do. Christ brought salvation to all, all in the Body, all on the vine. We help by keeping the fruit of the vine rich and righteous.