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Updated: Oct 16, 2020

John 11:17-27, 38-45 17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”…38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” 45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.

In the name of Jesus Christ, the Savior we need, someone to defeat death, dear Christian friends,

It is not fair to say more people are dying now than at any other time in history, but it is fair to say we are all thinking more about death right now as we daily hear the rising death toll caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and as our own congregation received word this week of the deaths of two members, seemingly unconnected to the pandemic.

But when isn’t death on our minds? With the exceptions of the incredibly healthy individual or the relatively young person, death and thoughts of death affect us all the time. A sickness or injury hits our body and we feel lousy and wonder if it wouldn’t be better if we could just die. An accident or tragedy occurs and the life of one of our loved ones is taken. A virus attacks the world and we dread the idea of it infecting us or one of our family members to end life. Today’s readings bring death to mind as well.

Do you try to avoid the thought of death or do you meet it head on? Do you fear death or do you accept it? Even though the inevitable date of Tax Day was moved back this year, we can’t avoid the fact of death and we are not in charge of pushing it back on the calendar, so let’s make sure we RECOGNIZE THE RESULTS OF DEATH! Today we will look at some of those: I. Crying and II. Confessions of faith and III. Conquered.

There was a lot of crying going on at the time our reading describes. Jesus’ friend and Mary’s brother Lazarus had died. In between the sections of our reading, we hear, “when Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled…Jesus wept (33,35).

One of the results of death is that it brings crying. I’ve done my share of it and seen an even greater amount of it at the bedside of the deceased or at the family’s home shortly afterward. Most of the time those tears are produced by the emotion of sadness. It is sad to see your parent die. It is sad to lose your best friend. It is sad to think you will never see them again this side of heaven.

When we realize that our perfect Savior Jesus wept, we know there is nothing wrong with crying tears of sadness. But some tears are not only sadness, but may be mixed with despair, like the Apostle Paul was referring to in 1 Thessalonians 4:13: “do not grieve like the rest of men who have no hope”.

Christians are sad when fellow Christians die, but we are not in despair or without hope. If we are, then we need to repent of our insecurity of faith and go back to the sure words of our Savior who said here to Martha, He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

For Christians, there is life after death. The “second death” Revelation (20:14) refers to does not touch a Christian. Jesus has set us free from hell and its eternal death. We Christians are filled with confident hope that the soul of a Christian is enjoying life in heaven immediately upon death because of the forgiveness Jesus won through his death on the cross and the body will be reunited with the soul there on Judgment Day.

That confession of faith I just spoke is another result of death. So was Martha’s wonderful confession of faith.