Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Lent 5

"Busy Martha's Bold Confession of Faith"

John 11:17-27

April 2, 2017

This past week one of my uncles died. One of the saddest facts of life is death. When someone dies, it's a sad time. Yes, sometimes there's a sense of relief that their suffering is over; sometimes there is guilt over lost opportunities, but most often it's just grief and sadness. Even for believers, there is weeping and sorrow even though we are assured of reunion in heaven. Today's Gospel speaks to the universal sadness that death brings.

Mary and Martha lived in Bethany, a small two miles from Jerusalem. Jesus was a frequent guest in their home. The sisters also had a brother named Lazarus. He was both a believer and friend of Jesus. In spite of their friendship, Lazarus became gravely ill. The sisters sent word to Jesus beseeching Him to come. They knew if the Lord were there, their brother would live. After He received the message, Jesus waited a couple of days before making the trip to Bethany.

John 11:17-27. Now, when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.

When death comes, everything else comes to a halt. Even if you're in the midst of planting or harvest, those things come to a stop. Everything else is put on hold during the days before the funeral. Life takes on a different rhythm. This was also the case for Martha. The main thing most people remember about her is that she was busy. Martha was a Type A personality. She was organized, efficient and the kind of person you could depend on for being sure everything was running smoothly. Even for Martha, the untimely death of her brother threw her off.

Earlier, when Jesus had been a guest in her home, she complained to Him. While she was busy working to make certain everything was perfect for His visit, her sister Mary was just sitting at the feet of Jesus. If only she would help, then Martha could join them and enjoy the visit. Jesus admonished Martha to put aside the busyness involved in being the perfect hostess. Now, is the time to sit and learn. When the disciples rejoined them, she'd be more than busy once again.

When death came to their home, Martha's busyness was stilled. She grieved. Others came to her. Others provided her with food. Others did what she was used to doing. Death changed everything.

On the fourth day, a messenger tells Martha that the Lord is finally here. Ah, at long last, He has come. There is a glimmer of gladness in the midst of sadness. Jesus is here. Sadly, it was too late but He has come. His very presence is a source of hope and consolation. Even in her grief, Martha is still a Type A. She leaves the house to go to Him. She greets Him with a heavy heart. "Oh, if only you could have been here, Lazarus would have lived." Her words are not criticism or chastisement. It was simply a statement of fact. In the presence of the Lord there is life.

Jesus comforts Martha. Busy Martha whose life has been put on hold listens attentively. Our Lord speaks the words of comfort we offer one another at the time of death. "Your brother will rise again." Martha affirms her belief in the resurrection. "Yes, Lord, on the Last Day we will all rise again." This is certainly our confession of faith as well.

Jesus doesn't end the conversation there. He continues, "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. Do you believe this?" Wow! Martha and those listening with her are being given a new reality. Not only is Jesus the Messiah but He is to be the very power of the resurrection.

Busy Martha, who we often think was too preoccupied to listen, now makes a most wonderful and profound confession of faith. "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world."

In the midst of our busy lives, we also encounter death. When death puts everything on hold, we are given the same assurance and asked the same question the Lord posed to Martha. As we face the stark reality of death, we also hear the Lord's words of hope and assurance. "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."

The Lord also poses the same question to us. "Do you believe this?" In the midst of her grief, Martha is challenged to make a bold statement of faith. Although we would hardly have expected her to say "no" in a moment like this, she could certainly have muttered a half-hearted "yes." How many people during such a time of grief would sputter "Oh, I don't know or Yes, yes, whatever."

Martha's reply was more than a weeping "yes." Even in her grief she made a strong, bold statement of faith. "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." She didn't simply affirm her faith by saying "yes, I believe." Without prompting she added, "I believe You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." This is wonderful and amazing.

Remember this is busy Martha. This is the woman who seemed too preoccupied to listen attentively at the feet of Jesus. Yet, here she makes one of the strongest pre-resurrection testimonies of faith in Christ as the Son of God who had come into the world to be its Savior. Although she couldn't know all of the details of what that meant, they would be revealed soon enough.

This morning as we hear the Gospel reading, the Lord is speaking to us, asking the same question. "Do you believe this?" Why? Why are we asked do you believe this? If your hearts are skeptical and unbelieving, how are you supposed to celebrate Easter with all its joy? If you don't believe the resurrection, why bother to get out of bed on Sunday morning? If your hearts don't believe, where is your hope? If you don't believe, what happens when you die?

This is why Martha's bold statement of faith is so important to us this morning. She would see Jesus restore her brother to life. The resurrection of Lazarus pointed to our Lord's final and greatest act of redemption. Passover was at hand. The Passover lambs would be killed and the meal shared commemorating the God's deliverance of His people from bondage in Egypt. Christ would eat the Passover with His disciples. At the end of the meal, He would give them something new: The Lord's Supper. Like the Passover lambs, Jesus would go to the cross to shed His blood for us. In Egypt the lambs died so the people in the houses marked with their blood would live. Christ died so that His shed blood would allow us to live free from bondage to sin, death and the devil.

This morning we are celebrating the new life in the Spirit the Lord gives to Brayden in his baptism. As we have been united with Christ in our baptism, we will be raised from the dead by the glory of the Father to live a new life. Christ is our resurrection and our life! Thanks be God for his glorious victory for us in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


September
09/24/2017
09/17/2017
09/10/2017
09/03/2017
August
08/27/2017
08/20/2017
08/13/2017
08/06/2017
July
07/30/2017
07/23/2017
07/16/2017
07/09/2017
June
06/25/2017
06/18/2017
06/11/2017
06/04/2017
May
05/21/2017
05/14/2017
05/07/2017
April
04/23/2017
04/16/2017
04/09/2017
04/02/2017
March
03/26/2017
03/19/2017
03/12/2017
03/05/2017
February
02/26/2017
02/05/2017
January
01/29/2017
01/22/2017
01/15/2017
01/08/2017
01/01/2017

December
12/25/2016
12/18/2016
12/11/2016
12/04/2016
November
11/27/2016
11/20/2016
11/13/2016
11/06/2016
October
10/30/2016
10/23/2016
10/16/2016
10/09/2016
10/02/2016
September
09/25/2016
09/18/2016
09/11/2016
09/04/2016
August
08/28/2016
08/21/2016
July
07/31/2016
07/24/2016
07/17/2016
07/03/2016
June
06/26/2016
06/19/2016
06/05/2016
May
05/29/2016
05/22/2016
05/15/2016
05/08/2016
05/01/2016
April
04/17/2016
04/10/2016
04/03/2016
March
03/27/2016
03/20/2016
03/13/2016
03/06/2016
February
02/28/2016
02/21/2016
02/17/2016
02/14/2016
02/07/2016
January
01/31/2016
01/24/2016
01/03/2016
01/01/2016

December
12/27/2015
12/20/2015
12/13/2015
12/06/2015
November
11/22/2015
11/15/2015
11/08/2015
11/01/2015
October
10/25/2015
10/18/2015
10/11/2015
10/04/2015
September
09/27/2015
09/20/2015
09/13/2015
09/06/2015
August
08/30/2015
08/23/2015
08/16/2015
08/09/2015
08/02/2015
July
07/26/2015
07/19/2015
07/12/2015
07/05/2015
June
06/28/2015
06/21/2015
06/14/2015
06/07/2015
May
05/31/2015
05/24/2015
05/17/2015
05/10/2015
April
04/19/2015
04/12/2015
04/12/2015
04/05/2015
March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
03/15/2015
03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
02/15/2015
02/08/2015
02/01/2015
January
01/25/2015
01/25/2015
01/18/2015
01/11/2015
01/04/2015

December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
12/14/2014
12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
11/16/2014
11/09/2014
11/02/2014
October
10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
08/10/2014
08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
06/15/2014
06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014