Summary: Easter sermon based on Christ raising Lazarus from death.
Trinity Baptist Church Easter, March 23, 2008
(Opening Illustration and material from Ray Pritchard)
When Barry Grunow left for work that Friday morning, he had no idea he’d never return home. It was the last day of school at Lake Worth Community Middle School, near West Palm Beach. 15 minutes before the final dismissal of the school year, Mr. Grunow was teaching seventh grade English at
3:30 p.m. when a 13-year-old student shot him. The student had been sent home earlier for throwing
water balloons in class. He was a member of the National Honor Society and had no record of
Barry Grunow was a popular teacher who often stayed after school to play basketball with kids. He
was 35, had a wife, a 5 year old son, and infant daughter. One classroom mother said, "He was a
great man. I always enjoyed it when my kids were going to be in his classes. Every way you look at
it, it’s a tragedy [and] scary."
Life is momentary and uncertain. In the NT James wrote, What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (4:14). Moses said to God in a Psalm, You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning -- though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. The saying used to be,nothing is certain but death and taxes. That’s not always the case. If you have a good attorney and a good CPA, you might escape some or even all your taxes -- but nobody avoids death. George Bernard Shaw said, the statistics on death haven’t changed. 1 out of 1 die." In a year’s time about 54 million people die
on planet Earth. 150,000 a day -- about 102 people every minute. The facts alone ought to jar me with the truth that -- one day, I will die -- as will the people I love. But, most of us respond with, not what I want to think about!!We live in a death-denying culture. We don’t want to hear about it, talk about it, think about it, or plan for it.
We apply euphemisms to death’s harsh reality. Some of us diet, exercise, work out, jog, bike, "move to the oldies" with Richard Simmons, gobble down vitamins, quit smoking, avoid fatty foods, track our cholesterol, keep a weight chart, cut back to only one Big Mac a day! We may even be tempted to stop drinking coffee or Coke or energy drinks. We use potions and creams
to look younger. We take fish oil and fiber in hopes of a few extra heartbeats.
Obviously, those things can be good. We should take care of ourselves. But the fascination with health and appearance goes beyond health. It soothes our uncertainty. We so want to stay alive because we don’t want to die. I’d suggest to you, we don’t want to die because we aren’t real sure of what’s next, and so there’s this real, deep-seated fear of death.
Hebrews 2:14-15 describes that fear: it says, Jesus died so that by his death He might destroy him
who holds the power of death -- that is, the devil -- and free those who all their lives were held
in slavery by their fear of death. That fear often keeps us from facing our own mortality. At the
same time, Hebrews reminds us, we each have an appointment with death. And it’s one appointment we
not avoid nor for which we’ll be late.
This 11th chapter of John from which Brian read offers some good news. The good news is wrapped up in the Person of Christ. We learn two Truths from Him here. First, He clearly understands and experiences the anguish that death brings to us. But vastly more important, Jesus secondly supplies God’s remedy for man’s old enemy.
It’s striking, as we read this account that before anything else transpired, Jesus wept at the death of His friend. He stood there at Lazarus’ tomb and wept freely. People read this passage and ask: why would Jesus grieve, knowing what He would do. The best answer is -- He wept because He loved Lazarus and his sisters, and He felt deeply what the NT calls the sting of death. Jesus went through grief with Martha and Mary as a human being -- weeping at the pain death brings.
You should understand death is a trespasser in our world. It’s a usurping influence in human
experience -- death was not part of God’s original design. It only became our legacy because of
sin. We are infected by sin -- and because of which death will come. That’s the bad news. The good