This is the fourth week of a series called, Resurrection of the righteous. It comes from the words of Jesus in speaking about holding a banquet inviting those who cannot repay you and 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 as 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 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
Three 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.
Two weeks ago the message spoke about building up treasure in heaven. The readings spoke to us 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.
Last week the readings focused on how there will be opposition along 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.
The readings this week guide us toward a life of discipline to be last. We see in the first reading that many are called to see the glory of God and that we must live a certain way to be welcomed and raised up for special treatment. In Hebrews we discover this special way of living includes a life of discipline, where we imitate Jesus living last and being called to be first when we are in the resurrection of the righteous. Finally in the gospel we read we must walk a narrow path, building strength and being healed, this is the path to the kingdom of the banquet, which requires our discipline and not a life of ease and laziness. These readings introduce discipline and God wants to help us become disciplined so we can be seen as righteous.
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time; Isaiah 66:18-21; Psalms 117:1, 2; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30. The readings guide us toward a path that requires discipline, living last so Jesus can make us first, and we can receive the peaceful fruit righteous in our resurrection.
In the first scripture from the prophet Isaiah we read what appears to be a salvation story, or perhaps a resurrection story. Every people and nation will see the glory of God and there will be a sign among them. The selection of the Hebrew people as the chosen is the first example of God bringing people together and showing all other nations what is possible. Even though they often falter, there is always those among them with discipline who called them back to God, who speak to God about mercy, prophets like Isaiah, kings who repented like David. We have those with discipline among us and in time all will see the glory of God and will bring offering to God. It is a prophecy for the last days when Christ will come again and enact the resurrection of the righteous. It is not possible to identify the nations mentioned, but as we discussed in previous weeks all nations will be resurrected. In the resurrection we will see the righteous, those with the discipline to put others first, and we recognized that the last shall be first. It requires dedicated discipline, a training in service. Those most dedicated, most disciplined will be special instruments for Christ, priest who put all others before themselves, living a life of service, it is a message that anyone with discipline can be a priest, not just the Levites. Isaiah is predicting a hopeful future and though we have not seen the final resurrection we look forward to it with the hope of a child anticipating Christmas morning. Our life of discipline, putting others first will allow the vision of seeing the glory of God. When we put others first, we become last, however God honors our sacrifice.
In the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews we read about discipline from God. The writing turns suffering into a kind of discipline that readies us to live in the world in a manner that is divine. God’s ultimate purpose is that we share in his holiness. The reading speaks of us as sons and daughters of God. With this familial relationship God wants to do all possible to train us to become the “peaceful fruit of righteousness.” Discipline will make us stronger and ready to endure all. We need to strengthen ourselves, keep straight our path and what is weak in us (lame) will be healed. God wants to make us holy as he is holy. Therefore when we come upon certain suffering it can be used for discipline, to train and strengthen ourselves, trained to be God’s son or daughter.When we come upon certain suffering it can be used for discipline, to train and strengthen ourselves, trained to be God’s son or daughter. Click To Tweet
Of course our example is Jesus, who put all others first and though he made himself last, God’s glory was great for him as it will be for us who train under the discipline of God. We are not strangers, but sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. All we do should be led by God’s desire to be our Father, accepting discipline to make our Father proud. It begins by pushing God’s message as children of a most Holy Father. It is a wonderful message describing how we turn suffering to growth, that we are children of God and that we are moving toward righteousness and will be in the resurrection of the righteous. We grow so much when we put others first, serve others before our own desires, and see all comes from God for our joy. We can use discipline to be last in our own mind but first in the eyes of God.
The gospel reading from Luke further reinforces this message of discipline. Jesus is asked about who will be saved. Presumably the question is about who is part of the resurrection of the righteous as we have been discussing. Jesus responds by encouraging those listening to enter through a narrow gate. Like the reading from Hebrews this is about being on a straight and narrow path. Many people want to take an easy route, something that doesn’t require hard work, it is the easy way. Jesus tells us to strive to enter the narrow gate, this requires discipline training discussed above, we should have discipline to remain on the straight path. We should work hard to become the righteous of God and trust that we will be saved. Jesus goes on to describe a locked door and those on the outside not being known by those at the banquet. To be let in we must have a relationship with God, we must behave as a son or daughter, we must train and use discipline to be close to God and to travel the narrow path. Participation in the great banquet can be ours if we have discipline. This discipline trains us to know God and serve others, putting others first and taking the last position. Jesus will talk about being invited up from a low position at the banquet to a higher position. He says the last shall be first, but being last requires discipline, training in knowing God and serving others. Then we will recline at the table of the kingdom of God, we will be in the resurrection of the righteous.Jesus says the last shall be first, but being last requires discipline, training in knowing God and serving others. Then we will recline at the table of the kingdom of God, we will be in the resurrection of the righteous. Click To Tweet
Through these readings we see an important message for those seeking the resurrection of the righteous, we will need to be disciplined to go from last to first in the kingdom of God. We see that all nations will be invited to see God’s glory, so we need to travel a narrow path, one of discipline to be sure we are recognized. In Hebrews we are called children of God, and that God assists in training us through discipline. We can become the righteous if we take on God’s lesson and let others be first. In the gospel Jesus specifically calls for hard work through discipline to be able to enter via a narrow path, to remain on the path and not falter, then we will be reclining at the banquet of God. It is through a disciplined life that we learn to put others first. This allows Jesus to come along and pull us to a seat of higher position, taking us from self-sacrificing last to first. Through discipline we are training to be on the narrow path and present at the kingdom celebration.It is through a disciplined life that we learn to put others first. This allows Jesus to come along and pull us to a seat of higher position, taking us from self-sacrificing last to first. Click To Tweet
Resurrection of the righteous
In the resurrection of the righteous a decision is made about our worthiness to be among the righteous. Can we afford not to be considered righteous? We see from the reading in Hebrews that it through discipline we obtain the peaceful fruit of the righteous. This has been our message, to be righteous in the eyes of God so we may be part of the resurrection of the righteous.
Recognizing we are a child of God comes with great responsibility. We must do the will of the Father, much as Jesus has done through his life. There can be no doubt Jesus was righteous in the eyes of God so if we imitate Jesus we should be able to be seen as righteous like Jesus. Jesus’ life was a life of discipline, he put the Father’s will before his own in all things. This training is something we need to obtain. We need discipline to always be on the straight and narrow path of goodness. We need discipline to strengthen ourselves to not fall off the path and look for easy ways to enter the kingdom of God. We must use discipline to allow God to take our weakness and heal us, turning our brokenness toward perfection. As children of God we must depend on God for discipline as in all things.We must use discipline to allow God to take our weakness and heal us, turning our brokenness toward perfection. As children of God we must depend on God for discipline as in all things. Click To Tweet
Discipline is a certain internal fortitude that keeps us from being lazy, or procrastinating. It is what helps us make schedules and stick to them. It defines a certain work ethic that keeps us focused on a goal. Discipline is that true north that helps us arrive at our goal, in this case to be seen by God as being righteous.
In Hebrews Paul speaks about God helping us see suffering at a means of discipline. We can look at things that are painful; loss, struggle, opposition, and others as blocks to our life on the narrow path but through God’s training struggle against these things. Thus with God’s help we learn discipline and become stronger, focused on the narrow path and healed. We don’t always have to wait for suffering we can put ourselves on a rigorous training discipline. In training we can rely on a model that allows us to enter into a disciplined life. We should build on a set of beliefs, with a certain set of values both of which drive our actions producing results.In training we can rely on a model that allows us to enter into a disciplined life. We should build on a set of beliefs, with a certain set of values both of which drive our actions producing results. Click To Tweet
What are your beliefs? What are the things that you know are true? What are truths that lead you to defining your values? Jesus’ truth is that relationship is everything, looking out for others is the most important belief we can hold. Jesus believes the Father loves him and he loves the Father and between them there is the Holy Spirit who communicates this love. Jesus believes in trusting the Father completely and believing that the Father has Jesus’ best interest in mind and so trusting the Father is paramount.
What are your values? What are the things you know are best? What are those best things that define your values? Jesus, based on his belief that relationship is important, thinks loving others is best. Jesus loves others, loves the Father and in fact challenges all his followers to do the same. Jesus says these are two commands that sum up all the commands; knowing if you love every other command is included. You won’t hurt someone you love, you won’t cheat someone you love, you won’t gossip about someone you love, you will only do good for someone you truly love. Jesus has this love for everyone, even those considered an enemy. If you have this value of love than it changes everything about you, you do see others as more important as yourself.If you have this value of love than it changes everything about you, you do see others as more important as yourself. Click To Tweet
What are your actions? What is it you want to do based on the values you know are best? What things will you do based on your values? Jesus’ actions put others first. In all Jesus did he put his own needs and desires last, and he made others needs and desires first. He heals those who need to be healed. He feeds those who are hungry. He listens to those who want to speak to him. He visits those most needing visitors. Jesus actions define him as someone who knew his values and beliefs and took care of those needing his help. Jesus didn’t ask what was in it for himself and he didn’t look for praise or glory. He took care of others because that is who he was; a lover who believed in relationships.Jesus actions define him as someone who knew his values and beliefs and took care of those needing his help. Click To Tweet
What are your results? What is seen of your actions? What do your actions produce? Jesus actions produce community. He is able to bring people together and change society in such a way that we know we should care for one another, that we know should serve one another, that we know we should put others first. Jesus’ results are the peaceful fruit of righteousness for himself and a path to get there for all of us. If we act like Jesus we too can have the same results.Jesus' results are the peaceful fruit of righteousness for himself and a path to get there for all of us. Click To Tweet
This should be our discipline map. Use the beliefs Jesus ascribes to, creating a set of values that lead to actions set on producing a specific result. We can be disciplined and obtain the peaceful fruit of righteousness. God will help and we can learn from Jesus.
Resurrection changes everything, including how we look at suffering and discipline. Resurrection is for all and life is eternal. If we are going to live forever than we should live righteously. This requires we know how to live, with a set of beliefs, values and actions that lead to specific results. This discipline will put others first and ourselves last. Then in the right moment Jesus will come and lift us up, from last to first.This discipline will put others first and ourselves last. Then in the right moment Jesus will come and lift us up, from last to first. Click To Tweet
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. It is why God teaches us the way of discipline, so we may go from last to first. We should want to be part of the resurrection of the righteous which means we should live a disciplined life. It is also a way of life that others can see and imitate. We have seen over the past weeks; we want to be rich in what matters to God, work toward treasure in heaven, we should work through opposition and be disciplined. We are at our best when our fruits imitate Jesus’ fruit. Next week we will close out this series on the resurrection of the righteous.