Sermon- Dying to Christ
April 2, 2017
THE RAISING OF LAZARUS
Let us Pray:
Lord Jesus, Awaken us,
Awaken us to your Love,
Awaken us to your Death,
Awaken us to God’s Glory,
Lord, may the Holy Spirit -infuse my human words- with the true Gospel message.
Lord Jesus, Awaken us.
We are dying to Christ,
We are dying to the meaning of Christ’s life.
Churches across America are closing,
This very morning most of Our Great
Churches here in America stand practically empty.
Our own pews are not half full this morning.
Our North American society is dying to Christ,
We are dying to His heavenly values
Earthly values have replaced Christ’s teaching,
Church has lost its meaning for many.
Our Church is dying.
As surely as Mary and Martha saw that Lazarus was dying,
We are watching the slow and painful demise of our church,
Many of the faithful have tried mightily to heal this church
But just as Lazarus needed more than a healing, so do we.
We need a re-awakening to Christ.
We need to feel the awesome power of the Love of God,
We need to see how God’s only son loved
And how he taught us to love.
Our Church needs a resurrection.
The Gospel Lesson today is a magnificent Love Story,
It is the story of a most tender and sacrificial love,
It is about the love of the most perfect lover, Jesus Christ.
It is a story about Love and Death and the Glory of God.
Let me say that again:
It is a story about Love and Death and the Glory of God.
It is Jesus suffering so that the world might know God,
It is Jesus making his Beloved friends suffer with Him,
All of this so that we may know God’s unlimited power
Yet, It is a story that we don’t truly believe.
Jesus did let Lazarus die,
Jesus did let Lazarus lie dead for four days,
Jesus did let Mary and Martha mourn for four days.
All so that world would truly know the Glory of God.
Some where along the way, we lost this divine, sacred and painful message,
We forgot their suffering,
We forgot their story,
We forgot this Gospel story.
If we remembered this story and received this Gospel message,
We would truly believe and fully feel the Glory of God
And our church would not be dying.
Death is not an easy thing,
It is not an easy thing for anyone,
Dying was not easy for Lazarus,
Watching Lazarus die was not easy for Mary or Martha,
Allowing Lazarus to die was not easy for Jesus.
From verse 33,
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping,
he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and he said,
“Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Jesus loved Lazarus, they both suffered
Jesus Loved Martha, they suffered
Jesus Loved Mary, they suffered
This was not an easy thing to experience..
Hear the love in verse 3,
“So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,
“Lord, he whom you Love is ill.”
And then listen to the message in Jesus’s response:
“This illness is not unto death;
it is for the glory of God,
so that the Son of God
may be glorified by means of it.”
Why did Jesus let his beloved suffer so?
Jesus wanted the world to know the Glory of God.
Jesus wanted the world to see, to know and to feel
the amazing true power of our God, our Creator.
And we have forgotten His power.
Teaching the world about the Glory of God is why Jesus let Lazarus die,
That we might learn about the Glory of God is why Jesus allowed suffering,
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days.
As Jesus came to the tomb, The Gospel says Jesus was deeply moved again
Jesus said “Take away the stone.”
And then Jesus lifted up his eyes and began to teach in prayer,
“Father I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
I knew that thou hearest me always,
but I have said this on account of the people standing by,
that they may believe that thou didst send me.
Then Jesus then cried with a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out.” The dead man came out and Lazarus was alive.
Can you imagine, if we saw Jesus resurrect Lazarus with our own eyes
Can you imagine, the faith that was resurrected in Martha and Mary,
And in all of those gathered in mourning.
Can you imagine, how we might truly believe,
Can you imagine how our hearts might be transformed
Can you imagine what you might do tomorrow,
If Jesus resurrected Lazarus right here this morning?
Could you go about your daily routine tomorrow without talking about Jesus,
Could you go to work and not tell what you saw Jesus do for Lazarus
Could you spend your day doing anything,
but talking about the Glory of God?
Can you imagine what this church would be like next Sunday?
Can you imagine how filled this church would be
If we all believed that Jesus had resurrected Lazarus,
That Jesus might come back here again,
Just imagine if we truly believe that Jesus is here with us now,
That Jesus’s word might flow from this pulpit.
That Jesus might be present in body and blood in this sanctuary.
Imagine how fast these pews would be filled
Can you imagine how church might be resurrected?
Yet we do not have that kind of faith,
We do not have the burning faith of those who saw Lazarus awaken,
We are not quickened in our hearts with the love of Jesus,
We do not truly believe the truth of resurrection power.
If we did our churches would not be closing.
We would be afire and the pews would be full around us, if we believed.
We need a resurrection,
We need a spiritual awakening.
We need to believe that Lazarus was resurrected
We need to believe that the Glory of God is very much alive.
We need to be desperate to show our belief to all we encounter,
We need to mission and serve with abandon.
Listen to the words of Methodist Bishop, Robert Schnase,
“Risk taking Mission and Service is one of the fundamental activities of church life
that is so critical that failure to practice it in some form results in a deterioration of
the church’s vitality and ability to make disciples of Christ.”
What is already clearly at hand, right here and right now
is a deterioration of the church’s vitality and an
accelerating inability to make disciples of Christ.
Without new action in mission and service,
Without the sharing of the gospel with St. Pauls’ zeal
there will be no resurrection of our church,
there will be less churches next lent
there will be no new disciples in the pews,
As we prepare to celebrate Easter and our savior’s resurrection,
We must ask how can we take action,
let us consider Paul’s letter to the Romans 12:2
“Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may prove what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Once our mind has received Paul’s context,
hear how he teaches that we may bring our heart into action,
“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil,
hold fast to what is good;
love one another with brotherly affection;
out do one another in showing honor.
Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in your hope,
be patient in tribulation,
be constant in prayer.”
Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.
This is our Lenten journey,
Yet, we are but a remnant, still in search of a burning faith and Zeal.
For himself Paul exclaims to the Corinthians
“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”
This is the fire and Zeal of St Paul that carries the hope of an awakening,
It is in the spreading of the gospel always,
and being in constant prayer.
It is now ours to find this Zeal,
And to secure this type of burning faith,
It is our journey as this small remnant to receive and feel the Love of Jesus,
To believe in the Glory of God our Creator,
And to endlessly tell the story of His Son, our perfect Lover,
And then we will see the resurrection of our church,
And then we will all flourish fully in the light of His true Love.
Awaken us Dear Lord, we know the time of resurrection draws near.