Saturday, April 18, 2020

Easter Saturday

Daily Dying, Daily Rising

Romans 6:1–14 (ESV) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

There are two places in Luther's Small Catechism that feature the resurrection of Jesus. First, of course, is the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed. In the explanation, Dr. Luther connects our eternal life with Christ’s: “that I may be His own and live under Him in His Kingdom…just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.”

St. Paul likewise connects Baptism into Christ with the assurance of our future resurrection: “For if we have been united with Him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His” (Rom 6:5).

The other place in the Small Catechism that references resurrection is in the explanation of what Baptism indicates, which cites Romans 6:4 and teaches that Baptism signifies that our old sinful flesh “should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.” 

This is the new life that results from us being buried with Christ in Baptism and raised up with Him. This shows us that Baptism provides us not only with comfort for our guilty consciences and promise of future resurrection but also the pattern of constant repentance in our lives: daily dying to sin, daily rising with Christ to new life.

Or, to put it in different terms, Jesus says to us, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). Even as we rejoice this week that Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!, we continue to labor here in this world of sin and woe and are reminded that self-discipline and suffering are God's gifts to us for becoming more Christlike and for instilling in us a longing for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come when Christ returns on the last day.

"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him" (Rom 8:16-17).

Prayer: Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon ourselves the armor of light now in the time of this mortal life in which Your Son, Jesus Christ, came to visit us in great humility, that on the Last Day, when He shall come again in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Prayer requests: for the family of Jeri Gruetzner, who was laid to rest on April 13; for Bessie Mahaffey and Alma Gause, under hospice care.

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