Psalm 116: 15 (Saints Triumphant Sunday - 2015)
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
This simple Psalm verse sings the refrain of Saints Triumphant Sunday. When a child of the Lord dies in Name of Jesus our Lord, that death is precious to the LORD. We are going to look briefly at the important truths of this Psalm. You are probably already doing this, but consider these words in light of your personal loved ones. Apply this Psalm verse to all those who have died in faith. But also apply them to your walk toward heaven.
Let’s start with the concept of DEATH. Death is the result of sin. In fact, none of us should be called saints because of sin and none of us should even escape eternal death because of sin. As Paul said, “for your sake, we face death all day long” (Romans 8: 36). The evidence for death is all around us. Caskets, cemeteries, and funeral parlors abound. Illnesses, crime, disease, pain, hospital beds, medicines … these are all reminders that “though one man sin entered the world and death through sin” (Romans 5:12).
But our Lord did not leave the issue of sin and death alone. He came into the Garden of Eden, came into the this world through his Son, Jesus, came into the heart of sinners, came into our hearts and lives through Baptism and washed clean of all sin and rescued her from hell’s dark door step. God’s son Jesus cancelled the power of sin by cancelling the power of sin on the cross. Jesus entered this world of death to die and beat death “so that as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5: 21). His death conquered sin. His resurrection conquered death.
Which brings us to the concept of SAINT: I don’t imagine everyone who has known any one of us very well in this life is thinking SAINT would be the first thing to come to mind. I suppose there are moments in our life spent with each other that might cause some not think “saint.” When speaking of all of us, the word “saint” does not fit too well. We all are sinful and deal with a life under the spell of the fall.
In order to make it fit the Psalmist includes the very important phrase: IN THE SIGHT of the LORD: When God looks at us he sees us through Jesus. He sees his Son’s perfect life. He sees the holiness, the compassion, the miracles, the death on the cross, and his powerful rising from deaths tomb. Through Jesus, the Lord’s eyes see a forgiven Margaret, a holy Margaret, a saint in the eyes of the Lord.
Finally, we draw our attention to the word PRECIOUS. Grammatically, the word “precious” describes the word “death”. It almost seems strange to combine that phrase together: Precious death? Who would say the precious death of mom, grandma, spouse, sibling, parishioner, or dear friend? Insert your name: Precious death of _______. Yes, precious, because it brings God glory. It highlights the great things that God has done for his people. The Christian’s death is precious because it is only the beginning of her eternal life with Jesus. Our death is only a temporal sleep through which the Lord brings another one of his children home.
Blessed are the Saints who have gone before us. They have been redeemed by his Son through his blood. They were washed clean in Baptism. They were kept in the faith through the Word and through his Holy Communion. They were been given a life in this world through which to give confession to their faith in Jesus. Now because of Jesus, they have been given a precious death and a precious place in eternal life.
You may have over the course of time that Veteran’s Day always comes close to the Day we call Saints Triumphant Sunday. I hope that coincidence is not lost on us, today or any day. Veterans’ Day calls to our minds the freedoms and lives and privileges we have. We know that those blessings did not come without sacrifice. Many of the people we remember today were people who lived lives of willing commitments for the good of us and others: soldiers, workers, leaders, medics, pilots, police officers, emergency personnel, and the like.
Throughout the history of time, including the present remind us that freedom isn’t free. The freedom of the saints home in Heaven isn’t free, nor is ours either. It was bought at a precious price, the price of God’s Son. “Christ’s love compels us, for we are convinced that One died for all; and he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died and was raised to life again.”(2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
So it all wraps up nicely into this one verse: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Precious is the death of every child of God! Give thanks to the LORD for those who already enjoy eternal life because of Jesus. Through him the eyes of the LORD see saints who have come home to where they belong! And as another Psalm says, “Surely I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!”
How blest are they who trust in Christ
When we and those we love must part.
We yield them up for go we must,
But do not lose them from our heart.
In ripened age, their harvest reaped,
Or gone from us in youth or prime,
In Christ they have eternal life,
Released from all the bonds of time.
In Christ who tasted death for us,
We rise above our natural grief
And witness to a stricken world
The strength and splendor of belief. (CW 607) Amen.