Summary: “I Believe in the Resurrection of the Body, and the Life Everlasting.”
“Boy Falls Asleep During Church And Dies” Do you know how long I’ve wanted to preach on this text about Eutychus? With an opening like that you’re expecting this sermon to be about the dangers of sleeping during church, aren’t you? Of course you could counter that the real point of the text is long sermons are dangerous and no congregation should be subjected to them. Neither point is what the Holy Spirit wants us to take away from this text. Instead he wants us believers to be assured that death is not the end. The boy in our text who died when he fell out of a third-story window was fortunate. The Apostle Paul, with God’s power, raised him back to life. But every one of you who continues to have faith in Jesus is also fortunate, for your death will not be the end of you. We’re reminded of that truth every time we confess in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” As we wrap up our work of guarding the good deposit of Christian teaching as outlined in the Creed, we’ll see how confessing faith in the resurrection is to boldly declare: “My death is not my end.” Let’s find out why we can make such a bold declaration.
Is it hard to imagine how someone could fall to his death while listening to a sermon? Not really. Not when you consider the circumstances of our text. Because it was his last night in the city of Troas, the Apostle Paul wanted to share all he could with the Christians there. His sermon, therefore, went a lot longer than twenty minutes. Paul preached on and on into the late hours of the night. The room in which Paul was preaching was crowded and lit by many oil lamps. It must have been hot and stuffy in there. But instead of leaving because it wasn’t comfortable, Eutychus persevered and found a place on the window sill where he thought he could catch some fresh air while continuing to listen to Paul. But the boy’s body won the fight. Eutychus nodded off and fell into a deep sleep. That’s when he lost his balance and fell out of the window, crashing into the street three stories below. Eutychus died on impact.
Falling out of a window three stories above the street does not seem like a fortunate way to die. But consider what Eutychus had been up to before his death. He had been listening to God’s Word! Can there be a better way to die than while listening to God’s Word so that your faith in Jesus was being strengthened?
Does this mean that Eutychus’ death would not have been fortunate had he, say, fallen out of a window at a nightclub? If we answer that question with a yes, would we be suggesting that it’s spiritually dangerous to go to nightclubs? It can be. If I lose my self-control when I go to such a place because I’m trying to throw back as many drinks as I can, or because I can’t stop looking at others there as if they’re toys I’d like to have my way with, then yes, a nightclub, a bar, even a friend’s party are not safe places for me. The Apostle Paul put it bluntly when he said: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and… drunkenness… and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19, 21).
However choosing to spend time at church or at a youth group event instead of at a nightclub doesn’t mean that I’m automatically in the clear. If I go to church because it’s expected of me or because I want to make a good impression but don’t take to heart anything that is taught from God’s Word there, then I’m guilty of the sin of hypocrisy. That sin is as offensive to God as is the sin of shamelessly indulging the sinful nature.
And even if I spend time at church because I really want to be here and learn God’s Word, that still doesn’t make me “better” than those who spend their time elsewhere. For example if I were to keel over from a heart attack right now while I was preaching, would I have earned the right to brag: “Lord, you must be really proud of me. I died preaching in the pulpit!” The truth is God would know how I struggled to deliver his message every Sunday without the sin of pride or the sin of “going through the motions.” A nail might be outwardly shiny, but it will still be tossed in the rubbish heap if it’s twisted and bent at the center. No matter how shiny your exterior may seem you too are twisted and bent in on yourself, as I am.