Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The Rev. Dr. Norman E. Nagel was one of my professors at the seminary. He continues to be one of my mentors to this very day. I share something he preached on Matthew 6,28 in 1954:
„Sin brought the world into such a cursed mess that only the Son of God could rescue it. This He did by becoming part of our sin-cursed world, making Himself our brother and subject to the curse. Jesus stake Himself with us. If He is crushed by the curse, there is no hope. If He overcomes the curse, then death cannot have its way with us. The fate of Christ and the fate of me are one. I can only be destroyed by death if Christ can be destroyed by death. Christ did die, but He rose again. His resurrection means my resurrection…. When I come to die, I can now die … quietly and without complaint“ (Select Sermons of Norman Nagel 216).
In this paragraph, Dr. Nagel is, in part, referring to the Apostle Paul, who wrote: »Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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« (Romans 6,3.5).
Christianity is a religion (and a theology) grounded in historical facts: Jesus was born, lived and died. His tomb was empty three days later. These are verifiable facts attested to in the Bible, the historians of the time and even those opposed to Jesus (like the scribes and Pharisees). The point of contention is: what happened to Jesus’ body?
Without the resurrection of Jesus, Christianity loses its unique claim and joins the rank and file of every other religion out there. Without the resurrection, Christianity has its teacher and a set of virtues by which a person may order his or her life, and that is about it.
The apostles, however, contend and preach that Christianity is something far and above all the other religions and philosophies that clamor for our attention. The heart and soul of Christianity is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The apostles proclaim that Jesus is the Lamb of God sacrificed on the cross as payment for our sin, and His resurrection is the evidence that His sacrifice is accepted by God the Father and that Jesus has triumphed over death, hell and the devil.
Our fate is, therefore, linked to Christ’s. His victory is our victory. His death is our death. His resurrection is our resurrection. His life in heaven is our life in heaven. Sin, death, hell and the devil cannot have their way with us or over us, for Christ has conquered them.
For those who mourn the loss of loved ones on September 11, 2001, we commend them to the mercy of the Triune God. For those in Christ who died that day, they are in His blessed presence, free from the trials and sufferings of this world. On the last day, they and all who die in Christ will be reunited in heavenly glory with a resurrected body. Amen.