1 Kings 17:17-24 - Trinity XVI - September 15, 2013
Jesus’ Words Give LifeLet us pray: “In the midst of life we are in death. Of whom may we seek comfort but of Thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased? Yet, O Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, O holy and most merciful Savior, deliver us not into the bitter pains of eternal death.” Amen.
These words from the rite of Christian burial we pray at the gravesite of our loved ones who confessed the faith as we commit their bodily remains to the earth whence they were taken in the certain hope of the resurrection to life. In this prayer, we speak of three different deaths that are of course each related to the other. The most obvious death is the bodily death. It’s what we see, and it saddens all people alike. We are in the midst of it. The second is the actually cause of the first. It is spiritual death. It is the sin that justly displeases God. We are in the midst of it. The third is eternal death. It is God’s final judgment. It is damnation. It is hell. We are not in the midst of this. We pray to be delivered from it on the last day. Right now is the time of grace when God does just that. He does so through his word.
Christ Jesus our Lord, who is himself the Word of God made flesh, delivers us from eternal death by delivering us from our spiritual death. He does this by forgiving us our sins on account of the fact that he took them away on the cross. Through this forgiveness, we have the certain hope that he will deliver us from our physical death as well when he raises our bodies to eternal glory. God delivers us from all three deaths by one and the same word, because all three deaths are really the same.