GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR – JESUS THE CHRIST. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! He is risen indeed! It has been 51 Easters that we have celebrated Jesus’ Resurrection at sunrise on the lakeshore, breakfasted together at the church and celebrated Jesus’ Resurrection again at the church. Then came the coronavirus and everything changed. Our lives were very much in the control of a powerful pandemic. Even our most powerful communal worship experience was largely relegated to the privacy of our own homes. But the message of this wonderful day is as powerful as ever - Jesus Christ is risen from the dead and because He Who gave His very life for us on the cross has risen indeed we too with our loved will spend all eternity victoriously with Him How truly we need to hear how God’s Own Son came into His Creation – our world. God Himself came among us as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ – showed us nothing but love and loyalty – cared and ministered to everyone even those who rejected Him – truly showed and shared His love in all He did and said. Then everyone – even those closest to Him thought all was lost for Jesus Christ humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on the cross. His followers though they had lost everything. Then on His 3rd day in the airtight tomb, Jesus arose – not merely to proclaim His Victory – but to proclaim ours as well. Jesus had conquered temptation, sin, death and all that comes with it and returned from the dead to proclaim the gift. Death is that unavoidable enemy we all must face – with or without a pandemic seemingly beyond human control. Good Friday is that day Jesus suffered and died for us on the cross and there He conquered all our ultimate enemies for us. Good Friday is the most important day in human history because it was the day Jesus gave His Life on the cross to conquer sin, guilt, death, pandemics and the devil for us – the day He was placed in an air-tight tomb. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! He is risen indeed! Easter – the day of Jesus’ Resurrection – is the day Jesus rose from the dead to explain what Good Friday was all about. John and the woman had seen Jesus slain on the cross and, with Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, had laid Him in the air-tight tomb. Then they and all the disciples hid and mourned through the worst Sabbath of their lives. At sunrise on Sunday morning – while the disciples were still hiding – the women went to the tomb to complete the burial arrangements. Our Savior had been slain and with Him most of their hopes. Neither they nor the disciples understood the meaning of the battle Jesus waged on the cross that past Friday. Then Jesus came back to explain. The Christ rose from the dead to proclaim His Victory for us. The sting of death is sin. On Good Friday Jesus suffered and died for our sins. Christ waged the battle for our souls and for our eternal lives. On Easter, Jesus proclaimed His Victory in that battle. Celebrate the SONrise
As God proclaimed through St. Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin, And the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory, Through our Lord Jesus Christ. On Easter Jesus arose to proclaim the Victory and restore our eternal lives and relationship with God. In our world – in our lives – our own human nature causes us often to struggle as if Good Friday never came. Jesus won the Good Friday battle totally with nothing left to accomplish or add. With our Easter message for our Good Friday world, we can celebrate the SONrise – in the church, at the lakeshore or even in our own living room. God’s Easter message is that Jesus has suffered our penalty and died in our stead – The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. (ROMANS 6:23). Jesus Christ is risen from the dead! He is risen indeed! And because He lives, we have life… Abundantly and eternally. THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS – OUR RESURRECTION AND OUR LIFE N OW AND ETERNALLY. +________________________+ EASTER SUNDAY April 12, 2020
Dr. Kurt Borows
Easter Table Prayers
Human beings feast when they celebrate. Food is the essence of life for us. When we feast we celebrate life. We pray before we eat because we recognize that without food we would die, and so we thank God who “brings forth bread from the earth; who opens his hand and feeds all living things”. (Psalm 104:14- 15; 27-28) Easter is the Feast of Feasts. At Easter we celebrate that God has given us Christ, who “is the Bread of Life’. (St. John 6:35) That is why Christ gave us the Lord’s Supper. At the Table of the Lord, we receive Christ in his body and blood; food that nourishes us to eternal life. The brief liturgies that follow are to be prayed at the table. The first, before breakfast on Easter morning; the second, before Easter dinner. Both liturgies call for a candle, symbol of the Risen Christ (He is also the Light of the World.) to be lighted. The readings are included, so nothing else will be needed.
Prayers before Breakfast on Easter Morning
The Lord be with you. AND ALSO WITH YOU. A reading from the Gospel according to St. Matthew. After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightening, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised from the dead and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him. This is my message for you”. So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me. Here ends the reading.
St. Matthew 28:1-10 The Christ candle is lighted
Alleluia! The Lord is risen! INDEED, HE IS RISEN! ALLELUIA!
The hymn may be sung or read responsively.
Good Christians all, rejoice and sing! Now is the triumph of our King! To all the world glad news we bring: ALLEUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!
The Lord of life is risen today! Death’s mighty stone is rolled away. Let all the earth rejoice and say: ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!
YOUR NAME WE BLESS, O RISEN LORD, AND SING TODAY WITH ONE ACCORD THE LIFE LAID DOWN, THE LIFE RESTORED: ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!
Prayer of the Day Christ is in our midst! HE IS AND ALWAYS WILL BE! Let us pray. Glorious Lord of Life, by the mighty resurrection of your Son you overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him. Grant that we who celebrate with joy Christ’s rising from the dead may be raised from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AMEN.
Let us bless the Lord. THANKS BE TO GOD.
Prayers before Dinner on Easter Day
When the risen Lord was at table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and the recognized him….
St. Luke 24:30-31a The Christ candle is lighted.
The Lord be with you. AND ALSO WITH YOU. While the disciples were talking about the reports of his resurrection, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you”. They were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts”? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see, for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have”. And when he had said this he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and wondering, he said to them, “Do you have anything here to eat”? They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you. – that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled”. Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high”. Here ends the reading. St. Luke24:36-49
Spring bursts forth today; FOR CHRIST IS RISEN AND ALL THE EARTH’S AT PLAY!
Prayer of the Day Let us pray. O God, worker of wonders, you made this day for joy and gladness. Let the risen Christ abide with us this evening, opening the scriptures to us and breaking bread in our midst. Set our hearts aflame, and open our eyes that we may see in his sufferings all that the psalms and prophets foretold, and recognize him at this table as the Christ, now entered into his glory, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.
Let us bless the Lord. THANKS BE TO GOD.
MAUNDY THURSDAY APRIL 9, 2020
On this day our Lord returned to Jerusalem to eat the Passover meal with his disciples. In the evening, in the upper room of John Mark’s mother’s house, he washed his disciple’s feet. In the course of the Passover meal he instituted the Lord’ Supper, the Holy Eucharist, and made the Great Intercession for his disciples. After singing a hymn they went out, crossed the Kidron Valley and ascended the Mount of Olives. There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus endured his agony, was arrested, and taken away to judgement and to death.
Behold the Lamb of God; BEHOLD HIM WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD.
Prayer of the Day The Lord be with you. AND ALSO WITH YOU. Almighty God, look with mercy upon this your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, given over into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN.
First Reading: St. John 13:1-17, 31b-35
Jesus washes the disciple’s feet
Reflection George McLeod, founder of the Iona Community in Scotland, used to assign himself the task of cleaning the rest rooms in the Abbey. He was the founder and guiding light of the Iona mission. He had been knighted by Queen Elizabeth as a Renewer of the Church. Still, he took his turn cleaning the johns. He did this, he said, so that he wouldn’t be tempted to preach any sappy sermons about the dignity of work. I would not presume to correct George McLeod, but I think he meant sappy sermons about the dignity of service. I believe all work, any work, has dignity, because if faithful men and women do the work as people of faith, their faith makes the work dignified. But service? Well, that is another matter. Service does not require dignity of us. Rather, service requires humility. That is why foot washing is important. It keeps us from preaching sappy sermons and saying silly things about the glory of serving others. Service usually means cleaning up someone else’s mess. Service requires us to bow our backs and bend our necks, and to put ourselves, including our dignity, beneath the one being served. Service without humility is patronizing. If in service we play Lord and Lady Bountiful, giving our generous help to all the unfortunates and ne’er-do-wells, then we aren’t serving at all. We are preening, so that we will be admired and revered. The true model of service is the one Christ shows us in the foot washing, full of grace, but more, full of humility. It’s what he means when he tells us to “love one another”. Amen. Blessed are they who hear the word of God and do it. AMEN
Prayer O God, your love was made flesh in Jesus Christ, who washed his disciple’s feet and gave them the new commandment to love one another as he loves them. Write this commandment in our hearts and give us the will to serve others as Christ who was the servant of all; who loved us and gave himself for us. AMEN.
Second Reading: ST Matthew 26:26-29 Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper.
Reflection I don’t remember which Marx Brothers movie it is in, but it’s the one where Groucho comes into a room where a cocktail party is going on and says, “There is a lot less going on here than meets the eye”. The opposite is true with the meal we call the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion. Holy Communion may outwardly look pretty simple, but in reality it is infinitely rich. There is a lot more going on here than meets the eye. So, what more? What is actually happening when we eat this meal? John Calvin, the great Reformer, provides a beautiful answer to that question in Book 4, chapter 17 of his magnum opus, “The Institutes of the Christian Religion”. He begins by saying that, “Union with Christ is the special fruit of the Lord’s Supper”. Calvin understood that union with God – God in us and we in him - through Jesus Christ, and not just salvation from sin, is the goal of the Christian life. As a husband and wife are two, but in marriage become one, so we become one with God in Christ. Christians are not just on the receiving end of some kind of divine judicial pardon. We were created in the image of God in order that we might live in Christ and have Christ living in us. The Lord’s Supper is the choice occasion for that indwelling to take place. Calvin calls it “the marvelous exchange”. He says “Godly souls can gain great assurance and delight from this Sacrament; in it they have a witness of our growth into one body with Christ such that whatever is his may be called ours also. As a consequence, we may dare assure ourselves that eternal life, of which he is the heir, is ours; and that the Kingdom of heaven, into which he has already entered can no more be cut off from us that from him; again, that we cannot be condemned for our sins, from whose guilt he has absolved us, since he willed to take them upon himself as if they were his own. This is the wonderful exchange which, out of his measureless benevolence, he has made with us; that becoming Son of Man with us, he has made us sons and daughters of God with him; that by his descent to earth, he has prepared an ascent to heaven for us; that by taking our mortality, he has conferred his immortality upon us; that, accepting our weakness, he has strengthened us by his power; that receiving our poverty unto himself, he has transferred his wealth to us; that taking the weight of our iniquity upon himself, he has clothed us with his righteousness”. The Lord’s Supper is not a simple remembrance. It is not even simple nourishment. There is a marvelous exchange between us and Christ that occurs as we eat this meal. He gives us himself and all that his life, death, resurrection and ascension means. Come with joy to the Lord’s Table that he may work this wonderful exchange in you. Amen. Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and do it.
Prayer When I Cannot Come to Communion In union, O Lord, with you and all your faithful people at every altar of your Church where the Holy Eucharist is now being celebrated, I desire to offer you praise and thanksgiving. I remember your death, Lord Christ; I proclaim and celebrate your resurrection; I await your coming in glory. And since I cannot receive you today in the Sacrament of your Body and Blood, I beseech you to come spiritually into my heart. Cleanse and strengthen me with your grace, Lord Jesus, and let me never be separated from you. May I live in you, and you in me, in this life and in the life to come. Amen.
Third Reading: St. John 1:1-5 Jesus prays for his disciples.
Reflection In intercessory payer we pray for the needs of others. We focus not primarily on our parochial needs, but rather on those who are not present: on the entire church of God, the created world, the nations of the earth, the community in which we reside, and those absent from our company because of sickness and troubling circumstances. This prayer trains us to have our heart with others, especially those in ill fortune. While contemporary psychology urges us to know our own hearts and solve our own problems, the Christian ethic calls us to live as if our hearts are not full and complete in our own bodies, but are always half with those in need. There is an African language in which to say, “John is sick”, one says, “We are sick in John”. That is precisely what a Christian theology of intercession teaches. Week after week, year after year, century after century, the faithful have prayed for the peace, justice, sustenance and health of the world. “Lord, hear our prayer, hear our prayer”. This continual praying is evidence of the faith of the church that God has acted, is acting, and will act to bring life to a world wrapped around in death. I wonder: Do you suppose the state of the world would be worse than it is if these intercessions were to stop? I am reminded of Frances McNutt, one of the great teachers of intercessory prayer. When Francis McNutt prayed at the bedside of a sick person he would pause periodically to ask them if they felt better. If they did not, he went back to praying until they did! That is the way it is with the church: if the prayers we offer seem to no avail, the faithful simply pray more. The widow in Jesus’ parable keeps on pestering the unjust judge for vindication of her cause until finally he acts in her favor just to be rid of her. So we, like the widow, keep hammering away on the doors of God’s providence; the God who is willing and ready to do more for us than we can ask or imagine. Certainly more than any unjust judge! We believe that in God is boundless life for the whole creation, and so we lament the brokenness and death we see all around us and plead for God’s creative Spirit to brood again over our chaos, restoring peace. We need to train our hearts to be with the needy, and so we give a entire part of the Sunday liturgy to those in need. We need to temper the deadly individualism that infects our culture with the Christian idea that, bound together in love, we will have no peace until everyone has peace. The last sentence Martin Luther wrote, scribbled on a piece of paper by his deathbed, was not a last will and testament like ‘I was the center of the century’s greatest social and religious upheaval”, but simply the phrase, “We are beggars, this is true”. The church is the body which begs that God’s generosity will enliven a begging world. It is in this spirit the Jesus interceded for us on the night when he was betrayed. Amen. Blessed are they who hear the Word of God and do it.
Pray the Great Intercession with Jesus as it is found in St. John 17:1-26
Reading: St. Matthew 26:30-32 Verses: The hour has come; THE SON OF MAN IS BETRAYED INTO THE HANDS OF SINNERS. St. Mark 14:41b For us and for our salvation, Christ became obedient unto death even death on a cross.
BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.
A DEVOTION ON THE SEVEN WORDS FROM THE CROSS
A DEVOTION ON THE SEVEN WORDS FROM THE CROSS
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow with which the Lord has afflicted me. I, IF I BE LIFTED UP FROM THE EARTH, WILL DRAW ALL PEOPLE TO MYSELF.
The Lord be with you. AND ALSO WITH YOU.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father and Savior of the world, hear us as with humble and adoring hearts we remember your seven words of love spoken on this day from the cross. Draw us, we pray, into closer communion with you, that the mind which was in you might also be found in us. AMEN.
We remember that, as they crucified you, you said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Silence for reflection.
Prayer If you, Lord, should mark our guilt, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with you, therefore we revere you. You bore our sins in your own body on the Tree that we, being dead to sin, should live in righteousness. Wherefore we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Psalm 130
We remember your promise to the penitent thief, Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.
Silence for reflection.
Prayer With you, O Lord, is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light. O Shepherd of the flock of God, you guide those who know your voice in green pastures and beside waters of comfort. When we awake we shall be satisfied with your likeness. Wherefore, we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Psalm 23
We remember your word to your blessed mother, and to the disciple whom you loved, Woman, behold your son! Son, behold your mother!
Silence for reflection.
Prayer O Son of God and son of Mary, you came to revive the spirit of the humble, and to bind up the broken hearted. Your loving-kindness is better than life, therefore my lips will praise you. My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Wherefore we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: St. Luke 1:46-55
We remember the loneliness of that loud cry which burst from your overburdened heart, while the dread darkness lay upon the land, My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?
Silence for reflection.
Prayer O Son of Man, beloved of the Father, was there ever sorrow like your sorrow? You were despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. For our transgressions you were wounded; for our sins you were bruised; the chastisement of our peace was laid on you and with your stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, had gone astray. We had turned everyone to his own way, and God has laid upon you the sin of us all. By our sin you were cut off from God, in whom alone is life, so that we might live. Wherefore we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Isaiah 42:1-9
We remember how, in fulfillment of the scriptures you said, I thirst.
Silence for reflection.
Prayer Was it not written of you, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth and you have brought me into the dust of death.” And yet your word endures: “If anyone thirsts, let them come to me and drink.” O Fount of Life, who thirsts for our souls, we thirst also for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Wherefore we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Psalm 22:1-26
We remember that word which from your lips alone was truth eternal, It is finished.
Silence for reflection.
Prayer O Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, source and fulfillment of all life, Author and Finisher of the faith; for the joy that was set before you, you endured the cross, ignoring the shame, and now are seated at the right hand of the throne on high. Wherefore we worship and adore your holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Revelation 1:4b-8
We remember that when you had cried with a loud voice, you said Father, into your hands I commend my spirit, and then bowing your head, you gave up your spirit.
Silence for reflection.
Prayer O Savior of the world, whom have we in heaven but you? And there is none on earth that we desire beside you. Flesh and heart fail, but you are the strength of our hearts and our portion forever. Into your hands we commend our spirits, for you have redeemed us, O God of truth. Wherefore we worship and adore holy name. AMEN.
Reading: Psalm 31:1-8
Christ became obedient unto death; EVEN DEATH ON A CROSS. Let us pray. HAVE MERCY UPON US, O GOD, ACCORDING TO YOUR LOVING-KINDNESS; ACCORDING TO THE MULTITUDE OF YOUR TENDER MERCIES BLOT OUT OUR TRANSGRESSIONS. WASH US THROUGHLY FROM OUR INIQUITY AND CLEANSE US FROM OUR SIN. RESTORE TO US THE JOY OF YOUR SALVATION AND UPHOLD US WITH A WILLING SPIRIT. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not turn away. AMEN.
Christ bore our sins in his body on the cross that we might be dead to sin and alive to righteousness. THANKS BE TO GOD
The Resurrection and the Life
"THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE"
Text - JOHN 11:1--44
GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR RESURRECTION AND OUR LIFE - OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS THE CHRIST.
On the day our text took place, Jesus spoke the most powerful and comforting words ever heard by human ears – “I am The Resurrection and The Life”. And the way He said those powerful words and the situation in which He said them enabled people to understand Who Jesus is– as never before.
The month before Jesus spoke those words, He and His disciples were in Jerusalem where the opposition toward Jesus was growing steadily more violent. Each day, they crossed the Kidron Valley and entered the Temple where His opponents were at their strongest. Each evening, they went back across the Kidron Valley and over the Mount of Olives to stay at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany of Judea. Staying in their home — so close to the Holy City — did little to calm the growing fear the disciples had for Jesus.
They were so happy when - after yet another attempt on His life - Jesus led them back across the wilderness, past ancient Jericho, and across the Jordan River to the far safer confines of Bethany of Perea.
Their joy was short-lived. The sisters sent a messenger to tell Jesus, “Lord, Your close friend is sick” Would Jesus not drop everything to rush to that family so near Jerusalem no matter what the personal danger? From so many stays in their home the disciples truly knew and loved Lazarus and his two sisters, but their love for Lazarus and his sisters was overshadowed by their love for Jesus and their fear for His safety.
Then to the disciples’ amazement and relief, when Jesus heard the message, He said, “Lazarus’ sickness won’t result in death. Instead, this sickness will bring glory to God so that The Son of God will receive glory through it.” His disciples breathed a sigh of relief.
On a clear day – though it takes more than half a day to travel between the two Bethanys – you can see from one to the other. Mary and Martha must have taken turns sitting on the hillside awaiting Jesus return with words of comfort.
Then, after two days, Jesus said, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
His disciples pleaded with Him not to go back where His life was in such jeopardy. “Rabbi, not long ago the Judeans wanted to stone You to death. Do you really want to go back there?”
Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day don’t stumble, because they see the light of the world. However, those who walk at night stumble because they have no light in themselves. ….. Our friend Lazarus is sleeping and I am going to Bethany to wake him.”
The disciples knew what every Judean believed – a patient falling into a peaceful sleep means the crisis is past and the patient is recovering. The disciples protested why go now when Lazarus has finally fallen asleep and the crisis is passed? “Lord, if he’s sleeping, he’ll get well.” Why tempt Your enemies and their violent plans by going to Lazarus now.
Then Jesus spoke plainly, “Lazarus has died, but I’m glad that I wasn’t there so that you can grow in faith, let’s go to Lazarus.”
It was Thomas who said what all the disciples were thinking — but with more sarcasm than the rest of them would utter — “Let’s go so that we, too, can die with Jesus.”
Then, as Jesus and His disciples approached Bethany of Judea, when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. … Martha told Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here my brother would not have died.”
It was so easy to know her thoughts —wondering what He Who had healed so many others could have done for Lazarus had He come right away - thinking of that special relationship they had. How much comfort and strength she and her brother and sister had always received from His love —until now when they needed Him most. And, yet, with that glimmer of faith in Him and trust in His love, she said, “But even now I know that God will give You whatever You ask Him.”
Jesus told Martha, “Your brother will come back to life.”
Martha answered Jesus, “I know that he’ll come back to life on the last day, when everyone will come back to life.”
Jesus said to her, “I am The Resurrection and The Life. Those who believe in Me will live even if they die. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." And Jesus asked Martha, "Do you believe that?"
She said she did. “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are The Messiah, The Son of God, The One Who was expected to come into the world.”
She said she believed — and the disciples, silently in their hearts, echoed that confession – the one Simon Peter had proclaimed so powerfully at Caesarea Philippi – the one Martha so confidently spoke now. But did Martha – or even Simon Peter and the other disciples – fully understand what they were confessing as their faith.
Jesus wept. All the mourners – including His disciples - thought Jesus’ tears were for Lazarus, but they were for Jesus’ followers - for how much growing their understanding and faith still needed to do. They truly believed in Jesus, but were still failing to put everything in His Hands without question.
Deeply moved again, Jesus went to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone covering the entrance. Jesus said, “Take the stone away.”
The disciples were shocked. Mary and Martha were shocked. All the mourners were shocked. Shocked speechless! It was Martha who finally gave words to what everyone was thinking. “Lord, there must already be a stench. He’s been dead for four days.”
“Lord,” they all thought, “what can be gained now by opening that tomb after Lazarus has been four days in an airtight tomb? Cannot Your prayers for Lazarus’ soul and the mourners’ comfort be said in the porch in front of the tomb?”
And Jesus did pray — this time more for everyone’s hearing than for His heavenly Father’s. “Father, I thank You for hearing Me. I’ve known that You always hear Me. However, I’ve said this so that the crowd standing around Me will believe that You sent Me.”
After Jesus had said this, He shouted as loudly as He could, “Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out. Strips of cloth were wound around his feet and hands, and his face was wrapped with a handkerchief. Jesus told them, “Free Lazarus, and let him go.”
Now Mary and Martha and the disciples and many of the mourners understood what it means that Jesus is The Resurrection and The Life — with Absolute Power and Authority over life and death. Now they knew what it means to put all things in His loving hands – a lesson they would not have learned had Jesus come to heal a sick man before Lazarus died.
Now they knew the perfection of Jesus’ love - willing to suffer through those days with those He loves that they might truly know victory over death in His Divine Presence.
As we view this most powerful of texts, the season of Lent is drawing to a close. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week when we focus on the way Jesus suffered and died for us – and then comes Easter
when The Resurrection and The Life Who raised Lazarus from the dead on his fourth day in an air-tight tomb Himself rises from the dead to boldly proclaim the eternal victory He has won for us all.
There are few – if any – more comforting words than those Jesus spoke at Bethany of Judea - “I am The Resurrection and The Life. Those who believe in Me will live even if they die. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." From the moment we believe in Jesus Christ and are baptized – whether asleep or awake, whether physically dead or alive – we live in Christ – our Resurrection, our Life,
THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN JESUS CHRIST — THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE OF ALL WHO BELIEVE IN HIM. AMEN.
Fifth Sunday of Lent
April 7, 2019
Dr. Kurt Borows
Pastor, Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio