Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Messiah Lutheran Church
Judica midweek service (March 12, 2008)
John 11:1-44, Matthew 27:27-55
For an audio MP3 of this sermon, CLICK HERE
TITLE: “Triumphant from the Grave”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for tonight is the resurrection of Lazarus from John 11 and the death of our Lord from Matthew 27.
Lazarus was dead. He was so dead, in fact, that he was beginning to stink. He had been ill, we don’t know with what. So while Jesus tarried, he died. Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters and dear friends of Jesus, sent word to Jesus that Lazarus had died.
Even to our Lord, who knows all this, the death of Lazarus was a shock. Our text says that Jesus wept when he heard the news, and that he was deeply moved by it. Death, even to God Himself, is a shock. It is so wrong, so clearly not how God intended the world to work, that there is just no working around it or making it fit into some great plan. Death stinks. It’s just that simple.
But death is a part of our existence. We live with it every day. It is always around the corner, in a friend or a relative, or even closer to home. Death is the great enemy, that seeks to rob us of our hope in Christ and of a future in Him. So it should not surprise us that death is always at the door, waiting for his time to come. Even for Lazarus. Even for you.
Our Lord goes to see His friend who has died. He knows that the body is never simply a body. This is the body of one of God’s holy children, beloved by Him. Jesus goes to them and says that Lazarus will rise from the dead. It is too good to be true. They assume that Jesus must be consoling them with the hope of the Last Day. But Jesus has something better in mind. He says,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).
Everyone who lives in me shall never die. How can this be? This can only be so because of our Lord’s death. When He breathed His last, death was defeated. All of its power disappeared in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. Death died on that holy day.
Lazarus, come forth! Jesus cried out. So at the voice of the Son of God the one who was died was alive again. Jesus’ death is what made this possible. His death not only made it possible for Lazarus, but for you as well. Jesus called out to you when you were baptized. He marked you as His own, and applied His death to you. Even though you die, you will live. Jesus will raise you up again. This is why our Lord died for you, so that you might never die. Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.