Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

11/04/12 Sermon

 

 

John 11:32-44

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts beacceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen

 
 
A taxicab PASSENGER tapped the taxicab Driver on the shoulder and said “Hey Buddy!”
 

Well the driver suddenly freaked out, started screaming and lost control of the cab.  He swerved, nearly hit a bus, jumped the curb and stopped just inches from a huge oak tree.

For a moment everything was dead still and silent.
 

Then the driver said to the passenger, "Man, you scared me half to death!”"

And the passenger said. “Well, I didn't realize a tap on the shoulder would scare you like that."

And the driver said "It isn't your fault. You see today is the first day I've ever driven cab.

And the passenger said Oh yeah, what did you do before?”
 

And the driver said “I've been driving a hearse for the past 25 years."

You know, when somebody's dead, we expect them to stay dead, don’t we?

Coming back to life isn’t something we expect; especially, if you’re someone who lacks faith.
 
In fact for people who lack faith, when someone dies there’s an understanding of finality; someone’s life is over, end of story.
 
And as a result it’s no surprise that people without faith see death as a disaster, a cause for despair.
 

But for people who have faith in Christ, the contrary is true.

Now many of us know this story from John by heart.

Jesus was called to the home of his friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Lazarus was fatally ill. In fact so ill that he was already dead by the time Jesus got there.

And so when Mary saw Jesus, she dropped to his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
 

We can feel Mary’s grief. Most all of us have been there with Mary or will be eventually. Death of our loved ones is part of life.

In Mary’s grief, Jesus is deeply moved. He asks, "Where have you laid him?"

They answered, "Lord, come and see."
 

Jesus begins to cry. Those at the scene say, "See how he loved him!"

They go to Lazarus' tomb; a cave with a stone lying against it.

Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha replied, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days."

Jesus says, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
 

So they remove the stone; Jesus looked upward and said a prayer.

Then he cried out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
 

And what happens????? Lazarus comes out, raised from the dead.

Like that first moment with the taxicab driver, people must have been freaking out!
 

Now, the obvious message of this story, of course, is Jesus' power over death. This story is a precursor of what is to come for all who die in Christ.

As Jesus said in the 25th verse of this same chapter: I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me will never die.

For those who follow Christ, death is not the end of the story. Death is no reason to despair.
 

Now as we hear this scripture today we are also celebrating All Saints' Sunday.

And on All Saints Sunday we are remembering and honoring those who followed Christ, rejoicing like Lazarus’ family and friends that they have been raised from the dead and are now with Jesus in the heavenly realm.

For them, death was not the end---it was just an interruption in life. They have now entered into a new and full life with God.

And we can rejoice for them as this new life with God far outweighs the pain of their sufferings in this world. They are in great peace and joy.

And for that we celebrate-----But the celebration on All Saints Sunday is not just for them. We also celebrate for ourselves.

You see, there is a connection between saints who are living now and those saints who have gone to be with the Lord.

Both resurrected and living saints share common knowledge and assurance in what lies ahead.

And for that reason, saints who are living have no fear of death.
 

You know if we want to define who a saint is; it’s not someone who did great things in this world…..That’s not what defines a saint

What defines someone as a saint is one who has no fear of death because they have assurance in their belief in Christ that when they die they will be raised with him.
 

As Paul wrote in Romans 8---We know that neither death nor life nor the present or things to come can EVER separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

But still that is not the end of the story.

You see, with this assurance and connection with the saints who have gone before us, our lives in the present are affected accordingly.

We are free in this world, we don’t live in fear or in competition with one another, we are at peace living boldly and courageously.
 

On the other hand, those who don’t live in this assurance of resurrection and eternal life, live accordingly as well.

Anthony DeMello in his book titled The Way to Love, gave an illustration of this.

He writes:
“Has it ever struck you that those who most fear to die are the ones who most fear to live? That in running away from death (they) are running away from life?
 

Think of a man living in an attic, a little hole of a place with no light and little ventilation.

He fears to come down the stairs because he has heard of people falling down stairs and breaking their necks. He would never cross a street because he has heard of thousands who have been run over on the streets.

And of course, if he cannot cross a street, how will he cross an ocean or a continent or one world of ideas to another? This man clings to his hole of an attic in the attempt to ward off death and in doing so he has simultaneously warded off life. Source: The Way to Love

But for those who live in the assurance of resurrection and eternal life, they really do live. They live as a foretaste of the life to come.

They are free from attachments that cause us to live in anxiety and worry and insecurity.

They do not despair at death and as they grieve for loved ones who have passed, they do not grieve as those who have no hope...1 Cor. 15:6, 18

They don’t follow after foolish things that do not satisfy and instead live courageously and boldly following Christ.
 

They don’t look for pettiness and dissension and instead live a life of holiness, growing in their faith, carrying out the ways of the kingdom.

Saints living in this world have their sights on where the saints who have passed now live.

There is an aware and intentional connection with those saints who have gone before us.

And if we use our senses of faith, we can hear and see those saints who have gone before us as very near, cheering us on.
 

The writer of Hebrews (Ch. 12) tells us that we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses….”

They cheer us on calling us “run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus….”
 

Our saints who have gone before us are urging us to live within the coming kingdom right now no matter the cost.

Because they live with God and are now in the hands of God, they are wooing us to endure in this world, to hold fast through loss, sorrow, and pain, and to live in peace and courage and joy in the present.

They are reminding us that our time on this earth is short in the whole perspective of eternity. And our calling and purpose in this world is to bear seeds as they did, laying the foundation of the coming kingdom.

So in closing today, as we celebrate All Saints Sunday let us not simply remember our saints who have gone before us with gratitude and leave it at that.
 

Instead let us live with them and beside them resting in the assurance of resurrection and eternal life.

Let us live as they are calling us to live, bringing forth the ways of the kingdom we belong to, our homeland where they dwell now.
 

All around us are our resurrected saints cheering us on.

Do you hear them; do you see them? Some things have to believed before you can see them and experience them.
 

Let us believe that we might be resurrected into eternal life and may it show in how we live right now.

 
 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen