A Sermon for Sunday, 6th November 2022
“Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:36
Are Christians people who are happy? Are they people who have something cheerful to say? Are they people who are positive? Are they people who always to look on the bright side? Are they people who are an encouragement to the other people around them?
If the answer is “no,” then are they who need to be reminded about what they say they believe? Every time Christians come to church, they say that they believe in the resurrection; do they try to be people who live as people who believe in the resurrection might be expected to live?
In Saint Luke Chapter 20 Verse 35, Jesus speaks of “those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead.” Those people who are considered worthy are those who believe in him, faith in Jesus brings them place in the age to come, it brings them a place in the resurrection of the dead.
Saint John Chapter 3 Verse 16, that Bible verse that captures the Good News in a single sentence, says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Believing in Jesus gives people who believe a place in the age to come, it gives a place at the resurrection of the dead.
In Saint Luke Chapter 20 Verse 36, Jesus explains what it means to have the place that he is offering. He says that it means four things. Talking about those who believe, he says, “they cannot die anymore.”
Have you ever given thought to that prospect? Have you ever thought that you can reach a place where you cannot die?
In Saint John Chapter 11 Verses 25-26, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
If you have life beyond this life, if you have a life to come where you cannot die, shouldn’t that make you a different person? Shouldn’t Christians be people without fear and without worry? If dying has no fear for you, then what else is there that can worry you?
Do you ever think about what it might mean to live forever? “They cannot die anymore,” speaks of a life that it is hard to imagine, it says that you should always be people who are filled with hope. How can one not be happy if you and your loved ones can look forward to such a life?
Jesus says that those who believe in him “cannot die anymore,” and then he says that having a place with him means that, “they are like angels.” To be told that you are like angels is a great honour, but it is also a great responsibility.
Angels appear regularly in the Bible – there are almost three hundred references to them.
The Greek word for angel, angelos, means a messenger, The word for “Gospel” in Greek, euangelion, comes from ‘eu’ meaning good, and ’angelion’ meaning message.
In Scripture, angels are sometimes those who bring messages from God, sometimes they are more actively the agents of God’s will, as in the book of Exodus and in the book of Daniel where they are protectors of God’s people. In the Gospels, an angel announces the birth of Jesus to Mary and an angel speaks to Joseph in dreams. When Jesus has gone through the temptations in the wilderness, angels come to minister to him. Angels will come and implement the final judgement, separating the wicked from the righteous.
Jesus speaks in plain terms about the potential power of the angels to protect him. Not only were the angels there to protect Jesus, the angels were guardians of the vulnerable, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven,” says Jesus in Saint Matthew Chapter 18 Verse 10.
Are Christians like angels? Do they bring Good News to people? Do they have a sense of God’s power? Do they protect the weak and vulnerable? If Jesus says to you that you are like angels, shouldn’t it be something that fills you with joy?
We cannot die anymore, we are like angels, the third thing that Jesus says about those who believe in him is that they “are children of God.” Saint John Chapter 1 Verse 12 says, “to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”
How often do you look at yourself and say, “I am a child of God?”
Probably not very often, perhaps if people did it would make them very different people. Wouldn’t everyday life become very different if people lived each day in the knowledge that they are children of God? It would give a joyful confidence in life and faith and it would give a sense of the responsibility, as members of God’s family Christians have a duty to that family.
Not only would people see themselves differently, they would see others differently. When you see other people as children of God, then you treat them differently. If Christians took Jesus’ words seriously, it it wouldn’t just make a difference to therselves and to the people they meet, it would change the world.
To be a child of God gives each and every person an infinite dignity that no-one can take away, it is a cause to be joyful.
“They cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God,” says Jesus, “children of the resurrection.” What does it mean to be children of the resurrection?
In the First Letter to the Corinthians Chapter 15 Verse 51-53, Saint Paul presents the resurrection as a joyful prospect, “Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
When you look at how people age, when you look at the effects of sickness, when you look at how tragedy shortens life, what does it mean that these mortal bodies in which people live will put on immortality? In a twinkling of an eye, all shall be changed at the resurrection. Life lived with such faith is life that is changed; nothing can make you afraid when we believe in that day to come.
Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection,” shouldn’t that promise fill you with joy?
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