Summary: God came to us in human form; He felt our pain and sorrows, and all is not lost, for God so loves us.
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church, Newport News, VA
Our nation is at war and young Americans and Iraqis are being killed every day.
A judge, a bailiff and a court reporter have been shot and killed in a courtroom in Atlanta.
There are gangs and gunfights in our community.
Children are buying, selling and using illegal drugs—which will invariably rob them of their childhoods, and possibly ruin their entire lives.
There are many, many human beings who are living on the streets, without homes or family or friends…
…quite a number of these people suffer from some kind of mental illness.
Within our own families, our own congregation there is illness, mourning and death.
Often, we try not to notice…
…but sometimes we can’t help but notice…
…when the tragedy is as big as the New York skyline or as close as the passing of a loved one.
And then there is that awkward “I don’t know what to say” feeling that often causes us to send flowers instead of placing a phone call or stopping by to visit.
But, as awkward as it is, our Gospel Lesson for this morning forces us to take notice—as we are taken to yet another funeral.
Lazarus was dead and entombed.
Mary and Martha—sisters of Lazarus—were devastated.
Their family circle was broken and they were broken as well.
Their dearly beloved friend—Jesus—whom they knew and loved so much was far away from them and didn’t appear to be in a big hurry to come to their rescue.
The whole town of Bethany seems to have been in mourning as Jesus is finally seen coming down the road…
…a little too late to do any good.
Everything seems so mournful and sad.
We are sure that Jesus often came this way and stopped at the homes of Mary, Martha and Lazarus for refreshment and genuine friendship.
Had all that now ended…
…with Lazarus’ death?
It seemed like it.
But we know that there is more to this story and that this Scripture is called Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead…
…because it has to do with Jesus going to the tomb and calling Lazarus to come out.
The stone is removed and, sure enough, Lazarus comes out “his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.”
And now there is rejoicing instead of weeping!
Look what Jesus has done in the face of death itself!!!
Now Jesus didn’t come right away when He was told about Lazarus’ illness.
Why was this?
Why did Jesus allow all this sorrow to take place?
Could it be that Jesus wanted to show us that God is somehow bigger than the worst tragedy that can happen in human life?
Could it be that Jesus’ thinking was, let it happen and we’ll see what God can do?
Do we have faith as big as that?
Can we wrap our faith around our own human tragedies and believe that God can do something with them and through them? (some of these words and ideas are taken from “A Matter of Life and Death,” a sermon by Rev. John T. LeGault, Jr.)
We are told in verse 33 that when Jesus saw Martha weeping, “he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled…”