Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lent 5: the resurrection of Lazarus

This week's texts were Ezekiel 37:1-14, Romans 8:1-11, and John 11:17-28, 38-53, the last of which is the sermon text.
Here Jesus raises Lazarus, a friend. Martha and Caiaphas prophesy of Him.

Caiaphas was concerned because of Jesus as a perceived threat to the Romans' beneficence toward Israel. So he said that it was better for one man (Jesus) to die for the nation than for Israel to perish. From his view, Christ was to be eradicated--similar to haters of the Church today who want it extinct.

Martha--a believer, unlike Caiaphas--confessed Christ's deity even before Lazarus was raised. She confessed Christ only by faith. Let us imitate that faith! Jesus can raise even stinky bodies (KJV--"Lord, he stinketh!"); although we haven't seen this and other spectacular miracles, we need to believe in Jesus.

Finally, Jesus speaks of Himself (vv. 25-26), the ground of our faith. We cannot come to the Father except through Him. Why does Jesus say the "I am" statements? John 8:58--He is YHWH come in the flesh--a clear claim to deity. Note also: each phrase is in the present tense--God still works; our Baptismal life is new and present. Death needn't be feared--He will surely raise our bodies and reunite us with Himself. Receive Him and become a child of God, one of God's people. Boast in Christ's atoning death and saving resurrection.

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