The Odessa Record -

By Rev. Mark Squire
Zion-Emmanuel and Salem Lutheran Churches 

Pastors' Corner

Death our enemy; Christ, our victor


This week, I lost a brother in Christ to a terrible tragedy. Many of you lost a pastor, a bus driver, a helper or a friend. I won’t soon forget Tim Hauge, and neither will many of you.

I worry, though, that our culture has stolen away the fullness of the Gospel from the Church. When people are old or terminally ill, our culture sees death as a helper, a welcomed guest and a release from the burden of our bodies. But, as we have all experienced this past week, death is anything but our friend. Death is tragic, and not just when it comes unexpectedly. Even more, if we don’t call death what it is, then we will lose out on the fullness of the great hope of salvation given to us in Jesus Christ.

The Scriptures describe death quite differently than our culture – as a curse, as a judgment on sin, as the great enemy of God’s people. Death steals away the gift of life. Death is horrible, whether we die peacefully in the hospital bed, painfully as a prisoner of war, or suddenly and unexpectedly in an accident. Death is scary, in part because we know that it’s not what’s supposed to happen to us.

When we can be honest about death, then, and only then, can we recapture the fullness of the Christian message. In the midst of death, we see God working something much greater. When the time had come, God sent his Son to be born in the flesh. Here on earth, Jesus experienced all the pain, suffering and tragedy that we experience. When his friend Lazarus died, he didn’t try to find the silver lining. Jesus wept. But, he then raised his friend from the dead. When his own death drew near, Jesus prayed for another way – any other way – for the Father’s plan to be accomplished. He knew the pain of death, yet submitted to it only because of the will of his Father. Jesus took upon himself the suffering caused by sin. He took death – your death – as his own. Sin is forgiven. But, even more, death is defeated.

This is the part of the Gospel that we’re missing too often. We need to be saved – delivered – from death. The Christian message isn’t simply “being forgiven, dying and going to heaven.” It’s much better than that! Yes, Christ has died for our sins. But, God also raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus was delivered from death! And, he is but the first. For those whom God has called, for those who trust in his Word and promise, God will raise them from the dead when Jesus returns in glory. God is making all things new – our bodies included! And when Jesus returns, we will dwell with God in a new creation – with perfect bodies – forever, apart from sin, pain, sadness and death.

This, you see, is the Gospel – the good news of Jesus Christ. Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. This is the faith into which our brother Tim was baptized, and this is what he believed. This is the hope which will be fulfilled at the great day of resurrection. May this also be our hope and comfort until our Lord returns.


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