Sermon Audio & Transcript
Sermon Audio (04/02/2017)
Grace mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Gospel according to St. John was inspired by the Holy Spirit and written by John the apostle. For this purpose, he writes for these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing in him you may have life in his name. Amen. The word of God for our meditation is John 11:17 and following selected verses of the gospel reading today which was read.
Do you ever get the feeling that at sometimes in your life, things are building up in a crescendo? Building up to a crisis moment, or you start to expect that some climax will come. The fulfillment of some expectations. There are certainly times in our life when, when we start to become apprehensive that, that things start to seem as if they are leading to something that may not be pleasant. I know that there were a few who had sounded warnings before 9/11. Watch out Al Qaeda’s on the move there might be terrorist attacks at some time! They were certainly starting to feel apprehensive or before the great recession of 2008/2009 people were wondering if things were starting to become unraveled around the edges. There were a few people warning about those things and certainly in the last election cycle many people expressed out loud it seems as if things are heading in a strange direction. Things seem to be going out of control and maybe in your business you have had moments where you’ve seen the handwriting on the wall. A big client was about to disappear, or there would be a financial reversal for you or the company, or maybe there was an acquisition that was going to lead to downsizing. Very many times in our life we can see things are starting to happen; storm clouds may gather on the horizon.
In Jesus ministry, that kind of thing was going on. Jesus was becoming more popular among the people, and that inflamed his enemies to seek all the more to get rid of him. Jesus would become more popular at times, and then he would teach something that was difficult for the people challenging them to believe and understand and they would start to leave. This happened repeatedly and so Jesus in our reading today from the Gospel of John performed one of his great miracles. One of the greatest miracles perhaps. The raising from the dead of his friend Lazarus who had been in the grave already for four days. To put this in the context of Jesus ministry, this happened not very long before the passion of Jesus would occur in Jerusalem. Very soon there would be… this plot to kill Jesus as a response to what Jesus had done with Lazarus and the power of that miracle and the fact that many of the Jews who had come to comfort Martha and Mary after the death of their brother were now coming back to Jerusalem with this news of what Jesus had done.
Very soon Jesus would tell his disciples I am going to Jerusalem where I will be handed over to the chief priests and elders and then they will hand me over to the Gentiles, and I will be mocked, hit, and abused, and crucified, and on the third day, I will rise again. The Transfiguration of Jesus had happened not long before this where Jesus showed his glory to the disciples which should have worked to firm them up, to bolster their faith. So that they would have the fortitude to reach the challenge or to stand in temptation to see the vision of Jesus’ victory on the other side of his pain. But first, Jesus had to demonstrate is humanity.
We know that Jesus is true God the Gospel according to St. John started that off by saying, in the beginning, was the Word, the Logos. The Logos, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. So, united with God the Father, and yet distinct from God the Father in some way. And we hear about the Holy Spirit being God and yet being distinct from the Father and the Spirit and in the Son we, we know that the Bible teaches about the Trinity of God, and we know that the Son of God himself true God from eternity became a human being, but maybe sometimes we forget just how human Jesus was. Being human meant that he had human needs like the need for companionship. Like the need for friendship, and two or three of his closest friends were living in the town, a little hamlet called Bethany, just 2 miles outside of Jerusalem’s walls. Martha, we know that story about how he would how she was busy preparing the meal for Jesus and his disciples and how Mary was quietly listening to Jesus teach. She was sitting down on the floor near him listening to every word and Martha was so distracted by all the preparations that needed to be done that she scolded Mary and she asked Jesus to scold her as well. Tell my sister to help with the chores! Jesus said to Martha that you’re worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what’s better, and it will not be taken away from her.
Their brother Lazarus, the name, Lazarus means helped, and the name Lazarus reflects his need for Jesus. His need for Jesus was no, was in no better way demonstrated then at this time, when Lazarus became sick. It’s strange when we read about this that Jesus hears about Lazarus being sick. Then, he says let’s wait a little bit longer. Messengers were sent to Jesus to, to tell him how urgently his presence was needed at that Bethany home, and yet he delays. He’s already shown his power. Martha and Mary certainly trust that power. Lazarus trusted that power as well. They knew what I preached about last week they weren’t here last week, they had witnessed the miracle or heard about it at least, where Jesus encountered the man born blind. And the disciples said who sinned, him or his parents that he was born blind? And Jesus said no, but this is for the glory of God to show the power of God in his life. Jesus remember this, he had taken some of his spit, and he made mud, and he placed it into the man’s eyes. He said go wash in the pool of Siloam. When the man went and washed, he could see that was a great miracle. And then when he was seen to be able to see, The Jewish Council called him in to interrogate him. What is it that is happen? Who healed you? He said, I don’t know, but I know that the man who healed me must be a prophet because who could do such a great miracle except a prophet. And they said no, it can’t be; a prophet would not work on the Sabbath. He couldn’t be a true prophet. And because he insisted he must be a good man, they kicked him out of the synagogue.
When Jesus found out that he had been kicked out of the synagogue, Jesus went to find him, and said to him, do you know who I am? The man recognized his voice at least and said well you’re the man that healed me. and he said no, really do you know who I actually am? And the man didn’t. But Jesus explained I’m the Christ. I am the Messiah. You’re looking at me, you see me now physically, now you also see me Spiritually. I am the one who was sent to save you not only from blindness but, I was sent to save you from your sins., and now you can have eternal life.
They knew his power, yet Jesus delayed. After a little while, Jesus said to his disciples though Lazarus is fallen asleep. We who are familiar with Christian idioms we know what Jesus meant by that. To fall asleep for a believer means to die but it means to face the certain hope of the resurrection in the future. Lazarus has fallen asleep. The disciples… maybe were not real familiar with that phrase meaning death, and they said well that’s good if he falls asleep that’s good medicine He’ll… wake up well, at least, weller. If he sleeps, he will get better. Jesus then told him plainly will Lazarus is died so then the urgency to get to Bethany. When he arrived, he was greeted, and Martha scolded him. Remember how Martha is kind of prone to scolding when she doesn’t think things are going the right way. It’s one of her tendencies. Martha scolded Jesus, and I’m sure after she did this she realized that was not a very good thing to do. Master, Rabbi, Teacher, Lord! If you had been here, Lazarus would not have died! She didn’t say this, but between the lines, we can hear, you should’ve hurried up a little bit faster. Lazarus is dead. In fact, he’s been dead for four days, Jesus, it says was deeply moved. He felt human emotions, and along with those human emotions he felt and resisted temptations to despair. Temptations to give up. Temptations to have such deep grief, but he never succumbed to the temptations to give up on His Heavenly Father. In fact, as that conversation with Martha continued, he reassured her like many of us would reassure loved ones at funerals. Your loved one will rise again, and we know that to be true as Christians don’t we? That those who die in the Lord can trust in his promise, He will raise up our bodies. Yes, literally. Yes, our natural bodies will be raised as Spiritual bodies, Immortal, imperishable, on the last day. We know that if you are a true Christian, you believe that, and Jesus was saying this to Martha she interpreted that, and she understood. Yes, I know he will rise again on the last day, but Jesus said to her no, what I mean is something more immediate than that. I mean something a little bit deeper than that. I AM, the resurrection and the life. I don’t know if he’d ever said that before to Martha, but she would have to sit up and listen to that. First of all that phrase, I AM. Remember when God introduced himself to Moses (Exodus 3:14) he said, I AM has sent you has sent me to you. I AM Jehovah, the God of free and faithful grace, The God of the covenant who always keeps his covenant.
I am! Ego eimi! I am the resurrection and the life. Who could say that except God himself? Whoever believes in me, whoever has faith in me, will LIVE even though he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Yes, Jesus said these words not only to comfort Martha but also to show that he has power over death and that power over death is going to be immediately shown. Yes, Martha walk me over to the grave, and they walked. Open up the grave, and there was some protest. He’s already been in there four days. He’s going to have become, smelly. You don’t want to go in there. Decay is already taking place. Please let’s just leave the tomb. We already said our goodbyes. Let’s leave the tomb sealed, but Jesus insisted. Please roll the stone away. It is at this point that, he wept. John 11:35, the shortest verse of the New Testament, Jesus wept. The only shorter verse is Job 3:2. If you want to look that up, you can. Jesus had them roll the stone away, and then he called out, LAZARUS, COME OUT! If this were anybody else besides Jesus, I think this would’ve been the end of the story, and we would’ve heard the tragic conclusion, and the crazy man walked away. And everyone was sad, and they felt especially sorry for Jesus because of his delusions. But Jesus had the power, and it has been said before that if Jesus had not preceded his command by saying the name Lazarus if he’d only yelled into that graveyard, come forth, everyone would have been raised. But Jesus limited his command. He said, Lazarus come out and Lazarus the dead man came out. The surprising and shocking verse that comes after Jesus command was that the dead man rose.
Now you don’t have to be medically trained to know that this just doesn’t happen. A man who has been dead for four days does not come out of the grave and walk around. It’s impossible. In fact, if CPR is not applied directly on the patient whose heart has stopped within the first minutes, brain damage and death, will result. And yet Lazarus came forth. Take off the grave clothes, Jesus said, and they took close off, and Lazarus was fine. Does Jesus have power over death? You bet he does. In a few short weeks, Jesus would be demonstrating this beyond any question. The people had mourned Lazarus’s death were going to be morning Jesus’ own death. The man who had fulfilled God’s commandments and lived a completely holy and blameless life. Who had only been accused unjustly and falsely? The one who told the truth even when that truth was inconvenient and who said and confessed I am the Son of God, it is as you say. That one would be killed on the cross. He would willingly take upon himself the punishment that we deserved because of our sins. In his forgiving heart would be on display as he said words from the cross, like Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. As he would cry out in the depths of his anguish, my God my God why have you forsaken me? As he showed his human tendency to thirst by saying I am thirsty. As he showed his faith by saying Father into your hands, I commend my Spirit. As he cried out with a loud voice that word of completion, that word that speaks paid in full. Translated in our NIV, it is finished but really, very technically, paid in full the price of our sins has been completely paid for. There is no more debt that exists that we need to pay to God.
His disciples saw him taken down from that cross dead. They mourned his death. I wonder if they remembered a few months before when Jesus had said that he would rise again from the dead, or a few weeks before when he had repeated that promise I will rise again from the dead, or if they remembered the raising of Lazarus or the raising of Gyrus’ is daughter or the raising of the widow’s Son in the town of Nain. Did they remember that Jesus had power over death? If they didn’t remember it on Good Friday and if they had forgotten about it on Holy Saturday they would be reminded in a great, wonderful way on Easter Sunday. Because Jesus would appear to them and Jesus would prove with no uncertainty whatsoever that he does have and continues to have and will have forever power over death. And so, his promises that he makes to you and me when he says I am the resurrection and the life he who believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. That promise is as sure and certain is the fact that the sun came up this morning, and we receive the full benefits of everything that Jesus did and accomplished for us not by earning it, not by working toward it, not by being the kind of person that God must surely love, because we can’t do any of those things and we can’t be that, but we receive it by faith when the Holy Spirit through the means of grace, the word and sacraments enters our hearts. And when he raises us from Spiritual death to Spiritual life, giving us the gift of faith. So, Jesus would ask each of us that same question as he asked of Martha—and I pray that for you the answer is yes—Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life whoever lives and believes in me will never die and he asked Martha, do you believe this and I pray that your heart answers the same as Martha. Yes, I believe.
*While the transcript above is a near word for word copy of the sermon, it may contain some errors. Also, some words have been omitted for clarity.
Sunday, April 2, 2017 – The Fifth Sunday in Lent
SERMON TEXT: John 11:17-27, 38-45
See Gospel Below
FIRST LESSON: 2 Kings 4:18-37
The child grew, and one day he went out to his father, who was with the reapers. He said to his father, “My head! My head!” His father told a servant, “Carry him to his mother.” After the servant had lifted him up and carried him to his mother, the boy sat on her lap until noon, and then he died. She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, then shut the door and went out. She called her husband and said, “Please send me one of the servants and a donkey so I can go to the man of God quickly and return.”
“Why go to him today?” he asked. “It’s not the New Moon or the Sabbath.”
“That’s all right,” she said. She saddled the donkey and said to her servant, “Lead on; don’t slow down for me unless I tell you.” So she set out and came to the man of God at Mount Carmel. When he saw her in the distance, the man of God said to his servant Gehazi, “Look! There’s the Shunammite! Run to meet her and ask her, ‘Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?’”
“Everything is all right,” she said.
When she reached the man of God at the mountain, she took hold of his feet. Gehazi came over to push her away, but the man of God said, “Leave her alone! She is in bitter distress, but the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me why.”
“Did I ask you for a son, my lord?” she said. “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t raise my hopes’?”
Elisha said to Gehazi, “Tuck your cloak into your belt, take my staff in your hand and run. Don’t greet anyone you meet, and if anyone greets you, do not answer. Lay my staff on the boy’s face.” But the child’s mother said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So he got up and followed her. Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the boy’s face, but there was no sound or response. So Gehazi went back to meet Elisha and told him, “The boy has not awakened.” When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. He went in, shut the door on the two of them and prayed to the Lord. Then he got on the bed and lay on the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out on him, the boy’s body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out on him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.
Elisha summoned Gehazi and said, “Call the Shunammite.” And he did. When she came, he said, “Take your son.” She came in, fell at his feet and bowed to the ground. Then she took her son and went out.
SECOND LESSON: Romans 8:11-19
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
VERSE OF THE DAY: Mark 10:45 cf. NIV
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
GOSPEL: John 11:17-27, 38-45
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.