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Jesus, the Glory of God

April 6th 2014 by VicarCalvin Kapels

If we are suffering in sadness or if we are jumping for joy, it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

Lent 5-“Jesus, the Glory of God”-John 11:1-45-April 6, 2014

Last week Mel and I went out on a date night to see the movie Noah. I wish I would have waited for Captain America 2, because the best part of the Noah movie, besides sitting next to my wife, was the peanut butter M&M’s. And if you haven’t seen the movie yet; here’s a spoiler alert, Noah and his family survive the flood. OK maybe not a shocker to you, but if you haven’t seen or heard about the movie; then you don’t know how far away from Scripture, from the truth, that Hollywood goes to make this movie. It is being called the worst Biblical and Non-Biblical movie. So after watching and seeing this movie and how it doesn’t follow the Biblical narrative of Noah, I thought anything could be a possible ending. I’ve heard, read, told the story of Noah many times, I know how it ends, but after watching how far from the truth this movie goes, I felt that I needed to go home, grab my Bible, and read the Genesis 9-11 just to make sure I still had the story right. One thing that the movie did get right was the point of the flood. It wasn’t meant for death, it was meant for new life.

In our Gospel reading today, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead to new life. This would make a great movie, with the characters, the drama, the action, the love and you could just follow how the Bible lays it out.

You can just picture the opening scene, Lazarus lying on his death bed with his sisters, Mary and Martha by his side crying, and with one last hope they send a messenger off to find Jesus. Jesus and His disciples are walking along the road when suddenly they see in a distance a man running as fast as He can, with an important message for Jesus, “the one whom you love is ill”. Jesus loves Lazarus and his sisters, so you would probably expect Him to run to Bethany to heal him, but Jesus doesn’t. Jesus’ gives the spoiler alert for this story.

In verse 4 Jesus told us how this story ends, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Then Jesus waits two full days until He leaves to see Lazarus which adds more days of travel time just to get there.

During those days Mary and Martha are left to worry, to anxiously wait for Jesus. Not only did their brother’s life depend on Jesus coming, Mary and Martha’s lives were dependent on it too. Lazarus was the head of their household, the provider for his sisters; if he died their lives would be in trouble.

At some point during those days, perhaps shortly after the messenger left, Lazarus dies and Mary and Martha are left to mourn the death of their brother. You can imagine the feelings that they are going through; the worry, the doubt, the heartache and it leads to a question, “Where are you Lord?” Because, if Jesus was there, Lazarus would not have died. After all, Jesus did say that this illness does not lead to death.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking “Wait a minute Jesus, You love this man who is on his death bed, you love his sisters and yet, You took Your time to get there and now He is dead. Where are You, Lord?

That is the question Martha and Mary have as their brother lay dead in the tomb for four days. That is why when they see Jesus coming, Martha runs to him. Mary, when called by Jesus, quickly goes to Him and falls at His feet; both quite possibly wondering “’Where were you Lord?” As they proclaim, “If you had been here our brother would not have died.”

“Where are You, Lord?” At times in our lives we all ask that question don’t we?
“My life is spinning out of control, where are You, Lord?” Where are You, Lord as I am suffering with sickness and disease?” “Where are You, Lord as my marriage and family are falling apart?” “Where are You, Lord when my body is failing me?” “Where are you Lord when my friends abandon me?” “Where are You, Lord as I worry about bills that need to be paid?” “Where are You, Lord as I struggle with depression, anxiety, despair, fear?” “Where are You, Lord as I face the death of a loved one?” “Where are You, Lord when I face my death?”

As we cry out “Where are You, Lord?” Jesus gives us three answers in our text.

Jesus’ answer is the same that He gave to Mary- Jesus wept. Jesus hates and grieves the consequences of this sinful world. He is grieved when you suffer. It hurts to see the ones you love hurting. Jesus is there with us, He sees, He feels, He understands our suffering and pain.

Jesus’ answer is the same as that he gave Martha- I am the Resurrection and the life, the Son of God who came into the world to suffer and die for sin and its consequences.  The One sent to save, to deliver us from death and the fear of death, and to give us new life.  That new life is now and will be eternal life with Jesus forever.

Jesus’ answer is the same as He gave His disciples, “this illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Throughout our suffering and sickness, Jesus is with us. Paul tells us this in 2 Corinthians 12, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness or in Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”.

Jesus knows the outcome, and at the right time and according to His will for His glory He will bring us new life, whether that be healing a disease, bringing us to repentance and forgiveness, or by calling a faithful follower to Him to live eternally, it is all for the glory of God.

That glory is shown in how this story ends; it doesn’t end with death, it ends with a new life. Jesus has the stone removed from Lazarus’ tomb and cries out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”  With His words, Jesus brought Lazarus back to life.  You can almost picture Lazarus with his feet and hands tied/bound with cloth and his face covered; as he is shuffling out of the tomb and I love how Jesus has others around Lazarus embrace and welcome him back to new life.

But this isn’t the end of the story, there is more and it also leads to the Son of God being glorified. Two weeks from now we are going to read a similar passage, but this time it is Jesus who is raised from the dead. Once again there would be sisters, Jesus’ mother and her sister, also named Mary, in mourning and once again they will be at the feet of Jesus, but this time He is hanging from the cross.

And much like Lazarus’ hands and feet were bound with cloth and his face covered, our Savior’s hands and feet are bound with nails and His face is covered with blood dripping from a crown of thorns.

Jesus even asked Mary and Martha’s question: “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” God where are you? The answer is that the Father has forsaken the Son to death and to the grave. So that you and me and all who believe in the name of Jesus will not be forsaken by the Father.

Jesus shows His glory because He has the final word on death.  “It is finished!”  But Jesus does not remain dead because He is the Resurrection and the Life- the Son of God.  So, 3 days later, Jesus rises from the dead but in a much more powerful and glorious way than Lazarus.  Lazarus needed Jesus to have the stone rolled away from his tomb.  Lazarus needed Jesus’ proclamation to “come out of the tomb”.  Lazarus needed Jesus to unbound his hands, feet, and face from the ties/the cloth of death. Lazarus’ resurrection was only new life for him.

Jesus came out of the tomb on His own. Jesus left the cloth of death that covered His face nicely folded and laying in an empty tomb as if to say, “I have conquered death, it no longer has control”. Jesus’ death and resurrection is new life for all who follow Him. So, Jesus goes to His followers to reassure them that He has conquered sin, death, and the devil, and that they have new life in Him-The Resurrection and the Life.

Our lives, whether we are suffering in sadness or if we are jumping for joy is all for the glory of God. Because in our suffering, Jesus comes to us through the working of His Spirit, through His Word to strengthen us, to reassure us that our suffering, our illness, even our death doesn’t lead to eternal death; it leads to God’s glory. That glory is revealed though us, through our suffering God brings us closer to Him and to His promise of life. God gives us numerous promises to reassure and comfort us in times of suffering and death.

Paul reminds us of this comfort in Romans 8, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Jesus tells us in Matthew 11, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The Apostle Peter reaffirms God’s power and grace in 1 Peter 5 (10) “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” And Jesus is always with us throughout the good times and the bad, as He Himself says in Matthew 28, “I am with you always, to the end of age.”

In our joy and hope in the promises of our Lord we go to those who are suffering to share the joy, the life and hope that we have in Christ. For those who follow Christ and believe in Him, there is a better story; one that doesn’t lead to death, but it leads to a new, perfect, eternal life with our Lord and Savior Jesus, which begins in Baptism, continues through His Word, is strengthened in the Lord’s Supper and we live in His glory without end.

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