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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sermon 03102013 Sunday in Lent 4

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Gracious and compassionate God, it is very clear that You loved Lazarus.  May we clearly see and understand that his death was so Your glory could be revealed at the site of his burial in the cave in Bethany.  For today the places where we lay our relatives to rest is holy ground because they await Your return as King of Glory for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here on our Lenten Pilgrimage. AMEN.

When professionals seek out a new job, they begin by crafting a resume that highlights clearly their skills, abilities and experiences that make them a perfect fit for the job they are applying for.  However there are some experiences that aren’t the best ‘resume boosters’.  For clergy this is very true as well, some would claim an increase in attendance, multiple baptisms or new members as a ‘bonus’ but there is one accolade that really isn’t a plus on the resume.  This would be I am an expert at funerals.  On the contrary, if one could put, “I have raised someone from the dead” like Jesus could for Lazarus, that is something that headhunters and most people take clear notice of quickly and try and ‘snatch the person up’.

This morning in our series of People and Place of Lent, we continue the story of Lazarus and his death and how Jesus Christ turns apparent tragedy into triumph.  Hear from John 11: (John 11:38-46)
38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, *came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus *said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, *said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus *said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
45 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him.46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.

Jesus in this passage of scripture turns the worlds perception of death upside down.  The people believed that Lazarus who had to their eyes died and was laid in the tomb and would remain was raised from the dead by Jesus Christ.  Jesus very clearly said in prayer, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.  I knew that You always her Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent me.”  Jesus is plainly giving the proof that He came from the Father, but the purpose for His coming was two sentences earlier, where He said,  “If you believe, you will see the glory of God.”  Jesus Christ is clearly saying, today you will behold the glory of the Father and the Son and experience the greatest miracle of raising someone from the dead.

Jesus command, “Lazarus, come forth” isn’t a request it is Jesus command clearly spoken and heard by the people and even us today.  In the tomb, made for him and for his final resting place, Lazarus had been laid, but Jesus Christ Master over the very tomb that held Lazarus and even of death outside of the cave that had only moments before had a stone covering it, now bid Lazarus to arise.  Jesus radically changed the paradigm and the place of rest, now became a place of resurrection.

The tomb where Lazarus laid in Bethany became the sight of the greatest miracle in Jesus ministry.  Changing water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana, feeding the 5000, walking on water, for some of us today is only idle talk and has little proof, but what occurred at the Cave where Lazarus was laid to rest is a test of our faith.  If we listen to the sound of common man, we have lost the opportunity to use the muscle of faith given to us in our baptism and no longer understand nor will experience the radical change that occurred outside of the cave that Lazarus was laid.

We are called to clearly lay claim to the Holy Scriptures and look to this cave, not as a place of death, but where Jesus Christ offered life in order for His glory to be revealed.  By the words, “Lazarus, come forth” the bonds of death were released from Lazarus and we today have the opportunity to use our muscle of faith to glorify Jesus Christ for this miracle of faith.  For this miracle was one more point on the journey that Jesus walked to Golgotha and moved the Pharisees to seek His death.  But Jesus allowed this in order for a greater plan to be fulfilled, the plan of salvation.  Jesus plan was clear, come into this world and live a sinless life in order for all of mankind to be saved through His innocent death on Calvary for all of mankind, including all of us saints that are gathered here at Emmanuel ‘glorifying God’ during our Lenten pilgrimage.  AMEN.
//trial script