Rev. Aaron Fenker
If we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. (Romans 6:5 NKJV)
You’re baptized. So, you’re ready to die! Not so sure? Well, you’ve already died! You died with Christ in the waters of Holy Baptism. And you not only died there, but you have been raised there. So, you’re baptized. That means, you’re ready to rise from the dead!
There’s no reason fear death. Christ Jesus has already redeemed you from death “with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death” (SC II). When death swallowed Him, it bit off more than it could chew! He burst forth alive on the third day. Death has been undone and defeated in God’s death for you. Death is just a shadow and toothless, old, weak lion. It can’t really devour you. Jesus’ resurrection proves it.
That’s what you’ve been baptized into: God’s crucifixion and death–God’s resurrection. Those are now your crucifixion and death–your resurrection. They can’t be taken from you. There’s nothing that the world, the devil, or even your own conscience can say to take that from you. There’s nothing–absolutely nothing–you can do to make Christ’s Baptism promise null and void. You’d have to unresurrect Him, uncrucify Him! He’s already died and raised from the dead. He’s baptized you into that. You’ve already died and been raised in Him.
You’re baptized. So, you’re ready to die. There’s no reason to be afraid of dying. Your body will die, but “God the Father, who created this body, God the Son, who by His blood redeemed this body, and God the Holy Spirit, who by Holy Baptism sanctified this body to be His temple,” will keep your remains until the resurrection of all flesh on the last day. We can have boldness and confidence–even in the face of death–because of our Baptism.
Polycarp was the bishop of a city named Smyrna, which is in modern day Turkey. When he was 86 years old, Polycarp was led to an arena and was given a choice: to renounce his faith or face martyrdom. One of the last things He said was this: “For 86 years I’ve served Him, and He’s done nothing wrong to me. How, then, can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” He was baptized. He was ready to die. He was baptized. He was ready to rise from the dead.
So also you. You can have boldness and confidence in the face of death and the grave. You’re ready to die. “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” has already died for you. Not only that, He is risen from the dead. You will rise from the dead, too. In fact, you already have. You died and rose at the font. Now death is just a nap. Once it’s done, and the Last Day is here, Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, will raise your body from the grave. You will see Him then with your own eyes–face to face–and you will live with Him in righteousness and purity forever.
Are you ready to die? Are you ready to rise? Of course you are! You’re baptized!
Rev. Aaron Fenker serves as pastor of Bethlehem and Immanuel Lutheran Churches in Bremen, Kansas.