Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Love of God in Death and in New Life

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was . . . he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." (John 11:5-6; 43-44)

Excerpt from “The Love of Christ and the Defeat of Death” – 2011-04-24
The Bible tells us that for the sake of love – love for Lazarus, Mary and Martha; for Jesus’ disciples and for the Jews who were watching all this; and for you and I here today, for the sake of God’s greatest love for us, Jesus glorified God by raising Lazarus from the dead. But was it really loving for Jesus to bring Lazarus from the infinite joy of eternal life back in a world soaked with sin, suffering, pain and struggle and, in the end, to again face the horrible enemy of death a second time? While it may have been loving for Lazarus’ family and friends – it may not have been the same for Lazarus. God loved Lazarus and his family and friends and took him out of heaven in order to show the power of Christ over death. And God loves us and our families and our friends when he takes us and our loved ones out of this world and puts us in the joyful glory of heaven. Both are “for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” But that glory seems too distant from our experience. None of us wants life to be over at birth or at death, and so we most often fight for life at any cost. The thought that we simply have just few short years of time here on earth is despairing for some and desperately hopeless to others. But we must remember that life is a precious, beautiful gift from God; it is His to give and it is also His to take away. The truth of the resurrection is that in surrendering your heart and life to Jesus - when death comes to take your life, God will give it back again forever. Jesus said that even if we die, we will live. In other words, just as he came forth from the grave on the day we celebrate this morning, so also will we come forth from our graves in the great resurrection morning. It is the destiny of all of God’s children to come forth from death to new life in his eternal kingdom. Christ led the way. He is the resurrection. He is the Life. Because he lives, we will also live.