What Child is this?
The One Who Would Die,
That Others Might Live…
John 11:17-27, 38-53
In Jesus Name
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be well known by you, bringing you great peace and joy as you know the depth of His love.
There are Sundays were the sermon develops simply, where there is only one point to the reading, only one lesson to learn about the depth of God’s love. Here, in this reading, there are a number of sermons that could be given.
One about God’s love, as we see in revealed in Jesus’ interaction with Martha,
Or God’s love, that would weep over the depth of a friend, and then raise him back to life.
Or one of my favorites, as we look at Caiaphas, the high priest, who like a hostile witness in court, still proclaims the truth…about the depth of God’s love – and doesn’t even know it.
As I prepared for this day, with the children singing, the words at the end of the reading kept coming to the front of my mind,
“he did not say this on his own, as the high priest at that time, he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for that entire nation, Not only for that nation, but to bring together and unite all the children of God, scattered around the world….”
We see God’s heart, at the depth of that plan, to bring together and unite al the children of God, scattered around the world.
One of the things we talk about here, is that church is often a foretaste of the glory of heaven. Not the building, but the people, the mercy, the love….as we sing together, as we heard God’s words, revealing His love, we place before God our burdens, as we share in the Lord’s Supper, this is all a little taste of heaven.
It just seems right then, that the voices of children we hear sing are from many cultures, from all over the world, the children whom Jesus came to make His own, just as He came to make us His own… people from all over this globe, just as heaven will be people from every nation, of every language, of every ethnicity. Today’s sermon is about how He planned and did this very thing!
These passages during this church season, what we call lent, help us get ready for Easter. They help us become more and more aware of God’s plan from the very beginning, was to be with us, to bring light and love into our world, which often lacks it.
Such as this prophesy of Caiaphas, which would point to the long awaited glory of Israel being revealed, and the hope of all peoples. The High-Priest, the head of all things religious, who studied the scriptures, said words that were so accurate, that He didn’t see it.
He said, “’You don’t know what you’re talking about! 50 You don’t realize that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.’” John 11:49-50 (NLT)
It was just to be just Caiaphas had prophesied. But he was by no means the first. Some 700 years before Caiaphas said those words, another prophet by the name of Isaiah put it together, a little more carefully:
10 But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. 11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. Isaiah 53:10-11 (NLT)
It is the same thought – but where as Caiaphas thought the death of Jesus would save a problem with the Romans, it would do so much more, saving people from our rebellion against God, our sin.
When during our time of confession and absolution earlier, I mentioned that God daily and richly forgives our sins and grants us new life, those are not just mere words. They are what we believe, what we count upon each day.
But we realize as well, and take great joy in the knowledge that this has been God’s plan from the beginning, that Jesus, the one, would die that all the children of God would never fear the power of sin, that is, that death would somehow be the end.
Isaiah talks of this in words that are interesting – that because the righteous servant, by experiencing death, would make it possible for many to be counted right. Simply because Jesus bears our sin, the grief, the guilt, the pain, the shame, and yes, the penalty for what we’ve done wrong.
Because of that action, he does save us, God’s people, all who trust in Him, from every corner of this planet, from every people group, from Asia, from the Middle East, from South America, and Europe, and even LA and the OC.
That’s been His plan, from before the foundations of the world, a plan we see, even as we look at the children’s smiles, as we heard their voices praising God this morning
There is a last lesson here. That I need to make absolutely clear to each and everyone of us. Some because we think we’ve gone too far from God. That might be worried about someone they think is gone to far from God…or in either case, lost hope for God to be able to work in their lives.
Hear Jesus prayer, to the Father…
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “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.” John 11:40-42 (NLT)
That of course, is the challenge, this idea of trusting God. Martha couldn’t even begin to conceive of what Jesus was telling her, that in a mere moment, with a cry, her brother would be returned to her and Mary.
In the same way, when we talk about eternity, about the finality of death, it is hard to see beyond the tomb. Yet God is here, just as He was there. Martha trusted in Jesus for the harder miracle, the resurrection from the dead, for all eternity.
It is why Jesus came, why he was born of Mary, and laid in a manger.
So that people would hear God’s love..
The same Child, was the one who would be nailed to the cross….
And rise from the dead, and ascend to heaven…..
So that we would know the Father sent Jesus… and sent Him that we would know the incredible depth of God’s love…..
for us, for those we love…. For those still, no matter what language they speak, no matter where they were born, no matter their culture.
For in Christ’s death, we find ourselves alive, in a relationship with God… rejoicing in His mercy, and given His peace.
A peace that is beyond all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.