35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 42So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. 43It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. 45Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven. 50What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
In baptism, we remember what Paul shares with church in Rome:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)
We are raised up to new life! Yet even after we have been given new life by God, we still want to keep ourselves wrapped up and bound in our grave clothes -- signs of the old life. We can keep ourselves bound up by holding onto those sins from which Jesus has freed us and has forgiven us.
During a children’s sermon a few years ago, I received some answers I did not expect… surprise, surprise! I asked the children, first of all, what they wanted to be when they grow up. One answer was a zebra. She will have to talk to her parents about that. Another wants to be a paleontologist. There were other answers as well.
My next question was, what requirements are needed for various jobs. What skills do you need to get the job you want?
I then asked, so what do you need to do to get to heaven? My hope was that I would receive a good Lutheran answer – that it is not our own doing, but by God’s doing that we are saved. We are saved by grace!
That is not the answer I got.
Instead, a little hand went up, and the child spoke - YOU HAVE TO DIE!
He is right, you know. You have to die. The good news is, you have already died. In the waters of baptism, your sinful self was put to death, and you were raised up to new life. Just like Lazarus, you have been freed from the bindings of sin, and are given new life.
Remember that! Every day, wake up in the newness of your baptism, dead to sin, and alive to new life, washed clean, free from sorrow, free from sin.
Jesus IS the way, the truth and life. Today! Remember you are baptized! Remember you belong to God. Today.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, we give thanks for the new life you give us in baptism. Sustain with the gift of your Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understand, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever. Amen