Sermon – December 29, 2019

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John 11:17-37 – Of the Head and the Heart (mp3)

The death of Lazarus has affected many. Crowds pour out of Jerusalem and the countryside to be with the family, but that comfort must come to all differently. Martha has questions; her sister has emotional needs. Both seek out Jesus. In our passage today, we learn of Jesus’ great concern for us, and for us as whole beings. He is not just a shoulder to cry on, but one who knows and arranges all things for our good. He is also not just a cold reactionary, but one who feels deeply the pain of his people. Today, in John 11, we see how Jesus responds to both of these concerns, as he once again shows himself to be a great and perfect savior for his people.

1. Jesus’ concern for the head
As Martha comes out to Jesus, she says very briefly that her brother would still be alive if he had been there. Jesus doesn’t challenge such a notion, but presses into her belief in the resurrection. While not focusing on the resurrection just minutes away, but on the general resurrection, Jesus wants her to understand where her hope for her brother lies. It is not simply in Scripture, nor in a general belief in the goodness of God. Her hope for such a resurrection lies only in Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life. He alone has the power over death and hell, he alone has the power to bring a physical body back from decay and to give it life again. Martha, for her part, recognizes these facts. Martha’s comfort came from the knowledge of Jesus’ power and goodness. Let that comfort be ours when we face difficulties as well!

2. Jesus’ concern for the heart
Mary is called out to meet Jesus, and says very briefly that her brother would still be alive if he had been there. Jesus doesn’t challenge that notion, and really doesn’t say much at all. He isn’t going to use logic and words to give Mary what she needs – instead, he shows his solidarity with her emotional response. Jesus is angry, frustrated, and troubled by the pain and misery that he sees all around him. Sin angers him, and its effects, not just because they are an offense against him, but because of the pain and devastation they promote wherever they are found. Jesus appeals to both sisters differently, and to us. He tells us what we need to know, and is a comfort to us in our pain. He will one day overturn sin and all its effects, but he in the meantime gives us hope and comfort. Wait on the Lord!