In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
Ezekiel saw dead, dry bones. (Eze. 37:1-2) And the Lord asked, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Eze. 37:3a) To which Ezekiel answered, “O Lord God, you know!” (Eze. 37:3b) And what does He say? “Son of man, prophesy to those bones. Put sinews and flesh and skin on them. Put the breath of life in them. Resurrect them!” (Eze. 37:4-6) And how did all of this happen? By the Word of the Son of Man. (Eze. 37:4) Bone came to bone, sinews were laid over those bones. Flesh filled those bones out. Even skin was laid over them. (Eze. 37:7-8) And then from the four winds of the earth, the breath, the Spirit, the life of God breathed into them. (Eze. 37:9-10) And they came alive.
Who were these dead dry bones? The House of Israel. (Eze. 37:11) The people who are God’s people—which means, the people whom the Lord wrestles with via faith. (Gen. 32:24-32) The people the Lord speaks to and faith is born in them. This glorious status is nothing to boast about. It is not a status that lets you look your nose down at others. For apart from His word you were dead. You are only alive in faith, by His grace.
For the son of man in that instance, in Ezekiel 37, was Ezekiel the prophet. But who is the Son of Man? Jesus. (Matt. 9:6; Mark 9:9, Luke 22:69, John 3:14, etc.) The Word of God made flesh. (John 1:1-3, 14) And it is the Word of the Son of Man that raises dead dry bones to life. That puts flesh on them. That breathes in them. That gives them life, even after death. (Eze. 37:12-13) The word of Him, the Son of Man, who rose from death. He speaks life into all who by His Word have life breathed into them. Faith born in them. New flesh. New desires. New life flowing from the Spirit.
For the beauty of the languages of Bible is that breath, spirit, and wind, are all the same word. How does this breath of life, this Spirit of the Lord, these winds that put life into the house of Israel—the believing ones—how does it get into you? By the Word of the Son of Man. For apart from Jesus’ Word you are dead in sin and transgressions. There is no life in you. It doesn’t matter if you have the best show on earth at your church so that nations flock to your church. If your church isn’t preaching Christ and Him crucified for sinners (1 Cor. 1:18-25) so that when your pastor forgives your sins in J’ name, you know that they are indeed forgiven (John 20:21-23), if you haven’t got that, your church is a dead, dry field of bones.
And that’s who the Church was on Easter Sunday. Dry bones. For when Christ appeared that Easter Sunday evening He had to breath on them. He had to blow the breath of life into His disciples. (John 20:22) By doing so He brought them to life. And He placed His life, His breath in the midst of them, for He established in those 10 disciples who were there (11 when Thomas arrived) a new office. (John 20:21) An office with His authority to forgive sins. (John 20:23) For this is how the breath of life blows on all the earth—raising many to life—by the preaching of forgiveness of sins in His name! That’s the breath of the Church—the life of the Body of Christ—His forgiveness. Its the spiritual CPR, the mouth to mouth, that jump starts dead dry spiritual bones and makes them Christ’s own body. (Eze. 37:10-14)
So the dead disciples were blown upon by the Spirit of God and they came to life. The living voice of God. The Ministry of Christ’s Church. The Spirit of God which pours forth from His Church, which breathes forth from your mouth too. The voice of forgiveness. That is the breath of the Church. Which means the lungs of the Church which breathe that Spirit out into the world is the voice of Gospel, the office of public Ministry, which Christ instituted. This is how the Spirit testifies in our world.
And without this breath the body is dead. For as the body without breath (or spirit) is dead, so is faith dead which has no works. (Jas. 2:26) For what are the works of faith? What are the works of the Church? What are those greater works of which Jesus said we—His Church, His Body with His breath in it—would do? (John 14:12) We would breath His life-giving Spirit—His breath—His forgiveness of sins into others. (John 20:23) And like a mighty army of dry bones they will stand up and come to life. And they will live who once were dead. (Eze. 37:10-14)
This is why His Word exists. It is why He commissioned 11 apostles to preach His forgiveness in His name. (John 20:23, 31) It is why some of them wrote it down, so that by Hearing this word, by receiving this breath of life, we might have life in His name. (John 20:31) Life in His name means faith. Faith which trusts in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. And where there is the forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation. (Luther’s Small Catechism: The Sacrament of the Altar: What is the benefit of this eating and drinking? http://catechism.cph.org/en/sacrament-of-the-altar.html) That means that you who have life in His name have no other needs. For He takes care of you. Just like Adam and Eve. He places you where He would have you be. He gives you jobs, callings, duties in this world so that you breathe that breath of life into others. So that you can minister His forgiveness of sins in His name to those whom He calls you to do so to. Your spouse. Your children. Your family members and friends. You are called to minister forgiveness to those in your life. To breath on them the breath of life. Just as your pastor does for you and for all who are called by Christ to come to this place to receive this ministry which is ours through Christ Jesus. (John 20:22-23) That we might have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)
So Holy Scripture is written so that you may believe. For blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29) Which means, blessed are you.
For you have believed. You have believed because some other faithful person like a parent, a pastor, or spouse breathed the breath of life on you. Brought you to the Holy Scriptures. Brought you to Church so that you might receive those 3 witnesses that breathe the breath of life into you. (1 Jn 5:7-8) For by those 3 witnesses of water, blood, and Spirit God witnesses in You. (1 Jn 5:9-10a) And His witness must be believed or you make God to be a liar. (1 Jn 5:10b) You judge God. He witnesses not as a man does, giving an account of what He has seen, God gives His Spirit, His water, His blood, to be in you. To witness in you. To create and sustain and renew faith in you.
To deny that is to fall into unbelief. Which is to call God a liar. It is blasphemy. For blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (John 20:29)
Babies have not seen, yet have believed. Why? Because some faithful person brought a baby to be baptized. So that the witness of Christ in and through water bore faith in that baby. (1 Jn 5:6-7)
Little children who have not seen are quick to believe (John 20:29)—especially if they have been baptized! But even if they are not baptized, by virtue of their hearts not being hardened by persistent and obstinate sin that we adults have lived, they are quick to believe. So that when you speak the Word of Jesus’ forgiveness to them (John 20:23; Rom. 10:17), lo and behold they come to life and a new creation is born in them!
Or think of summer camp kids, even young teen boys. I’ve seen it often at camps that they believe quickly over the course of a week at camp. But send them back home to where parents do not believe, where friends mock, where the world pushes out faith and that faith quickly falters. It breaks my heart to be a pastor of the week at camp. To see the Spirit birth faith in a child, to see the Holy Spirit’s mouth-to-mouth resuscitation bring them to life, and then to send them home where they will no longer get those three witnesses in them: the water, blood, and Spirit. (1 Jn. 5:7-9)
So give these three witnesses to kids! Give it to adults. And they will live! The Spirit of the Word. The water of Baptism. The blood of Sacrament. And they testify! They witness inside the kid, inside that adult. For baptism is a powerful thing. Even for infants baptized and never raised in Church, never having heard the Word of the Lord in their ears to teach to them what occurred to them as infant, even if have never come into contact with the Lord’s Word again for decades it can often be found that as an adult the Church—the place where the word of Jesus is preached, where the blood of Jesus is drunk, where the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit flow freely—that this is simply “home” for them. Their undiscovered country. The place they have always longed for. For Jesus witnesses inside of you by these three witnesses of God which are really one witness. (1 Jn 5:7-8) So despite the wickedness of parents who do not follow up on teaching a child why they were baptized, baptism is still powerful and active. It testifies inside that child. Even as an adult. Blowing life into the dead dry bones or our lives. Bringing us from the death of unbelief unto the life of faith. And at end of all things giving us life in the resurrection of the dead unto eternal life.
For the Word of the Lord is powerful. And these things have been written so that you might have life in Jesus’ name. (John 20:31)
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.