Encounter God and Live: A Sermon on John 11 from Concordia
Encounter God and Live
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ show you how to live!
Two odd focal points
Like most of the gospel, I have preached on reading from Luke before. I thought I had attacked it from every possible point and hadn’t missed anything in the story before.
I did pick up on a couple of things I missed, two different phrases that are repeated twice. I was also trying to work on how you preach on the miracle of someone rising from the dead in the middle of a pandemic. I mean, if there was a time to repeat the miracle in the Valley of the Dry Bones, wouldn’t it be a great thing to do it now?
Back to the two things I missed – these two phrases. As we deal with them, I pray that they will help us learn to live, to really live.
The first is that twice it describes Jesus as being Angry.
The other is a phrase that Jesus uses, that is translated as, “for your sake!”
The gospel records this,
“33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. 34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
Did you catch this?
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
Other translations make this seem that he was simply bothered, that he was upset – and yet word describes someone who is enraged, indignant, and storming about angrily.
Does that make sense? After all, what is he angry about?
My first reaction was the lack of faith, the absolute raw pain he is witnessing! Here he is, and Martha even acknowledges he is the Messiah.
Is Jesus truly mad at the lack of faith?
If so, perhaps he is mad at me for this week. After all, watching the fear and anxiety affect so many has been brutal. Hearing of friends whose families have contracted the virus has been brutal, especially as I can’t go to them, pray with them, give them a hug.
I don’t want to entrust these friends and their loved ones into God’s hands, and that, as brutal as it sounds, is a lack of faith.
Is that the reason God is upset? Because they couldn’t trust that Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead?
I don’t think so.
But I think we beat ourselves up too often for our lack of faith, and this time is definitely not a time to be doing so…
This epidemic is not about our lack of faith, and God hasn’t abandoned us in this time.
We might not see what He is doing, but that is true in other times of our lives as well.
We have to understand it is okay to struggle, it is okay to ask the hard questions, it is okay to weep, because then, having admitted where we are, we can see Jesus at work.
For your sake
Which is where the other duplicated phrase comes in to play.
Verse 14, “So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
and then verse 42, Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.”
When you see these verses bracket this story, it is not a major leap to see that Jesus’ anger isn’t toward those whose faith is struggling. For it is to strengthen our faith that this occurred.
So why would He be mad at the lack of faith?
God worked something out of this situation that led people to have more faith in Him, to depend on Him more than they ever did before.
In this case, it was a miracle, the resurrection of someone dead 4 days.
But that too – was something God had planned – remember – he said we are going to him. Even though Jesus said he was dead, they were going to him.
But that isn’t the end of the story, for God was going to demand more of their faith, which we get a hint of in Thomas’s comment, “Let’s go, too – and die with Jesus.
A Greater Demand on their Faith?
This story is about the fact the disciples would need even greater faith when Jesus dies just a little while after this. They would need to depend on God for the darkest three days of their lives.
Not knowing what any of it meant, not knowing what darkness would hit next…
As God would sustain them during those dark days between the cross and the resurrection –
For that is the place where God’s anger is purged – as the power of death and sin was crushed.
The sin which so separated us from God, and from each other – Jesus’s anger at that sin was made evident, there as He is with those dealing with the consequence of sin, death. He understood that death for the sinner would be final, which is why a short time later, the Father would deal with death through Christ’s suffering and death and resurrection.
He had to do something about the sin and death that so scares and scars us.
And so he did… Jesus would die,
For their sake…
And for ours.
And that is why we have a faith that is stronger, that is why we know we can depend on Him, not just for the forgiveness of sins, but that He will be with us always…
Caring for us, loving us, dying for us…
Alleluia – He is Risen!
and I can’t wait for you to say the next part
He is Risen Indeed Alleluia and therefore we are risen indeed! Alleluia!