Tuesday, November 03, 2009

All Saint's Day Sermon

Revelation 21 and John 11

Have you ever been cried for?

Crying: Tears in Heaven: I think this was the first CD I ever bought. I loved the song and the sound of Eric Clapton singing for his son who had tragically died as a small child.

Don’t cry much.

Complaint belonged to the language of faith in Judaism (e.g., Psalms 4; 6; 13; 22) and does not cast doubts on Martha’s piety. On the contrary, the edge of complaint in v. 21 gives greater impact to Martha’s statement of confidence in Jesus in v. 22. “Even now,” in the face of Lazarus’s death, Martha’s confidence is undiminished. Martha’s words are framed as a confession, “I know . . . ”341 (see also Martha’s words in vv. 24, 27; cf. 9:31) and can be read as her assessment of Jesus as a righteous man to whom God will listen in prayer.342 The truth of Martha’s assertion runs deeper than that, however, because God has given all things into Jesus’ hands (3:35; 10:29).

Tears in heaven. Yes for now, but our ultimate destiny is to have no tears at all. Who is going to shed the last tear? I believe it is Jesus.

The African Slave Song went, Aww, Mary don’ you weep, don’ you moan. Pharoah’s army got drownd’ed! Aww, Mary don’ you weep. God’s grace and power over our slavery to sin and death has been shown again and again throughout history. And Jesus is going to make it right.

Movie example: This is where Revelation passage comes in: like when you see a movie, a thriller perhaps, and then you see it again with a friend, when you see them reacting and worrying over it, you want to say to them, it’s all right—it turns out all right.

From Lazarus point of view:
What graveclothes keep me bound and prevent me
from entering into the new life to which Jesus
calls me?
lack of trust in God
trusting in our culture's assumptions (wealth,
military might, some people are deserving and
others are not...)

Unbinding: Jesus gives the command to the disciples to “unbind him and let him go.” Jesus has freed him from the clutches of death. Jesus has taken the dead man and has made him alive. Now it is for those who witness the great power of this act to unbind the man from those grave clothes.

Do you hear? Are you risen from the grave? Has Christ given you a new life? Are you born from death? I hope so. I hope we can all say that we have found the mighty power of Jesus Christ that frees us from death.

I’m not just talking about the death that we will all experience at the end of this earthly life. I’m talking about the death that traps us, that clutches us, that clings to us, that smells so offensive to the righteous, and yet does not distance us from the one who saves us. You notice that Jesus isn’t fazed by Martha’s concern that Lazarus will smell bad.

But, even if you have been raised from sin and death, are you still bound in the grave clothes? Are you bound by the old ways, the “way things have always been?” The things of the life you had before being raised from the tomb? Are you still bound? John says earlier that “though the light had come into the world, the people loved the darkness rather than the light.”

Why is that? Because their deeds were evil. You can hide in the darkness, see. You can hide in the tomb. But Jesus has come and has called us out of the tomb, and he has commanded us to be unbound from those stinking, hideous clothes

If we get to that point where we can shed our grave clothes, then we have a new command: unbind them and set them free. Jesus likes to put things in the hands of his disciples. He gives them the bread and the fishes to distribute. He also gives them the charge to unbind Lazarus and let him go.

How have we been wept for? How have we been unbound by those saints who have heard the call of Christ to minister to us? How have those who have gone on before us helped us to walk out into the light?

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