Death Is Not Death

"The girl is not dead but sleeping."
Death Is Not Death
Ah, she is sleeping! Death, where are you? Among Christians, death is not death, but a sleep. Indeed, the burial place of Christians is called a . . . "dormitory.” The heathen cannot give their graves that name. Only Christians say: "My grave is my bed, my dormitory. I am not dying, but I am falling asleep." John 11:25 [says]: "Whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, yet he shall live," and [11:11]"Lazarus has fallen asleep." But here you also see how many hindrances there are to this faith concerning eternal life... There is despair, as if we were not going to live eternally. . .. The Law and the wisdom of the flesh assert repeatedly that death is death and that, conversely, the promises of eternal life are nothing and wholly in vain. For the Law knows how to kill and nothing else; this is what the conscience feels. Therefore, here we must direct our attention zealously to this word of Christ: "She is sleeping." though it is drowned out by so many crowds and scandals. . . Oh, if only (as the text says) this report of the power of Christ the Restorer of life would go out into all the land [Matthew 9:26]—or, rather, into the hearts of all—so that all would believe that He is such a one as considers us dead men to be living ones who shall be awakened from sleep. Thus we may joyfully scorn death, certain that He does not lie but shall awaken us, for though to ourselves we seem dead, to Him we are sleeping.

From Annotations on Matthew (Luther's Works 67:76-78)
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