Summary: Jesus makes big promises, and we struggle to believe in the midst of our troubles and setbacks of life. Jesus gives us the strength to believe, and fills us with the hope of seeing God's glory someday.
How quick are you to believe big promises? I think there’s a certain part of all of us that’s a little hesitant, a little skeptical, to believe every promise that we hear. Have you ever believed a promise, only to have that promise broken? “I promise you that we will give you a raise next year when business is better,” but the raise never came. “I promise you that this medication will work – you will feel better after you take this medication,” but it didn’t work - you still feel sick. I promise you that this vehicle will never break down – it will run well for years to come” – and then the engine light comes on. We live in a world of broken promises, and it’s hard to trust, hard to believe, when you’ve experienced a broken promise in your life.
This morning, Jesus makes some very big promises. One of them is the theme of our sermon for this morning: “Believe, and you will see the glory of God.” Jesus promises everyone who believes in him that someday, they will see wonderful things, awesome things – the glory of God. This morning we ponder some of the biggest promises in the Bible, and through his Word Jesus fills us with hope that someday we will indeed see the glory of God.
Jesus is at the funeral of his good friend, Lazarus. The time is coming for Jesus to be betrayed and crucified, which is why this is the Gospel lesson chosen right before Palm Sunday and Holy Week. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, was filled with grief that her brother had died. But underneath that grief, there was still some faith: “If you had been here Lord, my brother would not have died.” She believed that Jesus could have rescued Lazarus from his illness – that’s faith. And then she made an interesting statement: “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” What did she mean? Did she believe that Jesus might raise Lazarus from the dead? We’re not sure. But we do know that underneath her grief, she had faith.
Isn’t that how it is for all of us, as we experience trouble in our lives? Maybe it’s the death of a loved one, or maybe it’s some other kind of trouble. Life can be very difficult, and sometimes we feel grief and sadness, like Martha. Life is hard, and brings us many troubles. But underneath our grief and sadness we still have faith in Jesus Christ and all of his promises.
Listen to the promises that Jesus gives to Martha: “Your brother will rise again.” Martha thought he was talking about Judgment Day. In her mind, God the Father would someday end the world and raise everyone from the dead, including Lazarus. She believed that. But it seems that she wasn’t picturing Jesus as raising anyone from the dead on Judgment Day – just God the Father. That’s why Jesus spoke these famous words to her: “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” Jesus was happy that Martha believed in Judgment Day, but look at me, Jesus is saying. I’m the one who is going to raise all people from the dead, including your brother Lazarus.