Sunday Church Service Sermon – Worship & Devotion March 28 & 29

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Lent 5A – Life out of Death

  1. In our present circumstances as Covid 19 rages across the globe and our own state it’s hard not to become preoccupied with mortality reports
    1. This isn’t helped by our media who focus on the grim details of this story with a real-time counter of world cases/deaths and US cases/deaths on the side of the screen in red.
      1. It’s easy to feel like we’re living in the valley of the shadow of death.
      1. Collectively yearning for better days, wishing for the recent past when the troubles of those days now seem insignificant to today’s.
      1. In our anxiety we cry out in the words of Psalmist today, Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
    1. But our Lord hears our plea even before we open our mouth, His heart is filled with compassion for His creation.
      1. That’s what we see most poignantly revealed in our Gospel lesson today in our Lord’s reaction to the death of Lazarus.
      1. The shortest verse in the English New Testament is John 11:35, Jesus wept.
      1. Those words encapsulate our Lord’s emotion as He viewed the carnage that sin produces – death, famine, disease…brokenness.
      1. And that compassion caused Him to act…to take our cause upon Himself to deliver us out of this world of death at the cost of His own life – our Lord brings life out of death for us!
  2. Our Lord has always been about bringing life out of the death that our sin has brought
    1. From the very first pages of Scripture God has been about our deliverance.
      1. In Genesis 3:15, the first promise of a Savior was made even before the results of our sin had been finalized (banishment from Eden, separation from God, and mortality)
      1. As God cursed the serpent (Satan) for what he had done He gave the promise that would deliver us, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
      1. The rest of Scripture is about how God kept that promise to send the offspring of the woman (remember virgin birth) to crush the serpent (Satan) and liberate His people.
    1. And throughout the Bible we see that God repeatedly brings life out of the death that sin creates.
      1. Look at our OT lesson from Ezekiel, this is written as the Israelites were languishing in the Babylonian captivity.
      1. Now in their spiritually dead condition (the valley of dry bones) God tells Ezekiel to prophesy over them and God’s Word brings life where there was once only death.
      1. Our Lord promises to restore life and hope to a people whose rebellion had brought death, “Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live.”
    1. Over and over the narrative of Scripture reveals that He brings life out of death, that He is not deaf to our suffering and pain
      1. Why did our Lord weep at the tomb of His friend Lazarus? Did He not know that He was going to resurrect Him just a moment later?
      1. Of course He did, this was a moment of deep connection as He wept for the pain of separation that sin and death bring, He wept for the plight of His creation.
      1. And just as our Lord’s words spoke creation into existence and gave life to dry bones in Ezekiel our Lord’s Word brought life to corpse four days dead, Lazarus come out!
    1. And our Lord has words of life for us in the midst of the unending reports of death, words of comfort and peace that sustain us and give hope.
      1. Just as God brought creation into existence, made the dry bones live and brought Lazarus back to life through the power of His Word, He has spoken life into each one of us and brought life out of death.
      1. Paul reminds us in 2 Cor 6, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
      1. That, irrespective of what may befall us in this life, our eternal destiny is secure as Paul says in Rom 8, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
      1. Beloved in the Lord, You are God’s and He has given the life of His Son for you, He has brought your life out of Christ’s death – rest assured that having saved you at such a price He will never abandon you in your need.