Summary: Final message on series “Illness Through the Eyes of Faith.”
WHEN ILLNESS LEADS TO DEATH
INTRO: Many of you enjoyed the Mary Tyler Moore show. One of the most famous episodes was about Chuckles the Clown. In this episode, a clown named Chuckles is killed in a bizarre accident. He was dressed as a giant peanut at a parade. An elephant thought Chuckles was a real peanut and attacked and killed him.
Although it was tragic, it was humorous to everyone but Mary. She was upset by the jokes about it. One of her co-workers said: “Well, Mary, it could have been worse. Chuckles could have been dressed as a banana and could have been peeled to death by a gorilla!” In the end, however, even Mary had to laugh about the bizarre situation.
In spite of the humor of this television show, a serious point was made. Death is scary. And one of the ways we cope with the fear of death is to make jokes about it. And we’ve made lots of them.
One of my favorites is the woman who was married four times. Her first husband was rich. When he died, she inherited his entire fortune. Then she married an actor. He took her to all the Broadway shows, and she had a great time. He also died.
Her third husband was a minister. While married to him, she became interested in religious things. But he died as well. Her fourth husband was a funeral director. After a few years of marriage, the woman died, and her husband buried her. Someone began to reflect on her four husbands. They mused, “She married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go!”
In spite of all the jokes, however, death is not a funny thing. We laugh about it; we deny and ignore it; however, death is real. The story in the eleventh chapter of John deals with this subject. The word came to Jesus that his friend Lazarus was sick. Days later the word came that Lazarus was dead. Lazarus’ illness resulted in death.
Ultimately, illness leads to death. It is appropriate, therefore, that I conclude this four-week series, “Illness Through the Eyes of Faith,” on this subject.
I. DEATH AS GRIEF.
In verse 35, we read that “Jesus wept.” Death brings grief. A seminary professor once talked about his grief over the death of his mother-in-law. She was greatly loved by him and many others. Following her funeral, a number of sincere, well-meaning Christian friends said to this professor, who was obviously grieving: “Don’t feel bad. Don’t cry. Isn’t it wonderful that she’s gone to be with the Lord?”
He smiled weakly, he said, and gave a token nod of assent to his friends’ comments. Inside, however, he felt ready to explode with anger and grief and frustration. He wanted to shout at the top of his lungs: “No, it’s not wonderful that she’s gone! I miss her and I hurt and I’m going to cry as much as I want!”
When we face illness which leads to death, whether it be our own or someone we love, we are going to grieve. Jesus did. He grieved because he loved Lazarus, and now Lazarus was dead. Illness had led to death, and it deeply moved and hurt Jesus. Jesus not only wept when Lazarus died, but He also wept when He faced His own death.