All Saint’s Sunday is that day when we celebrate the lives of those who have passed away in faith. It honors our dead BUT , like all worship, is for the living disciples of Jesus to remember that life matters and death has not victory over us.
Our Text is the story of Lazarus from John 11:32-44. However, we have saints among us who have been delivered from the grave.
These stories have a lot in common with our text. Each was rescued from the grave by an unseen hand, each experienced a variety of feelings, both in faith and in testing, and all left with a story to tell.
Jesus was not stranger to strong emotions. He is seen in the Gospel being furious, frustrated, hungry, and even sad to the point of tears. At the grave of his dear friend JESUS WEPT. In his tears the disciples would see love and not weakness. The crowd would complement Him for them and then curse Him in the same breath. This crowd could not have guessed the power over the grave that Jesus would show them, a demonstration of what would come again at the cross.
Lazarus and his sisters were old and dear friends. In this came a tangle of emotions at the grave side. Mary began by faithfully knowing that Jesus COULD have saved her brother. Then, Mary was mad, in faith, and chewed out the creator of the world for His thoughtlessness. Faith subsided, she was surrounded by her church family at the tomb. They stuck with her throughout this four days and when it came down to rolling the stone, she was more worried about the smell that her faith in the Lord.
They opened the grave first, then Jesus prayed loud enough for all of the people to hear. He ordered His friend to trade death for life. When Lazarus came out, Jesus simply told those who had the courage to go in with him to takes off the rags of death and this crowd would know that this was no ordinary man. Lazarus was free and yet Lazarus would indeed die and enter into eternal life. This brief reprieve would not cheat Lazarus out of his heavenly home.
So what? What does this mean to us.This is what this means to me:
As Lazarus was freed, so are we. The life in Christ a life sentence and not a death sentence. This was a demonstration of God’s power to the living of today and not just then. All Saint’s Day remembers those who have died, but this time is for us. Confidence in living is ours and fear is crushed by faith. Yet we grieve.
Grief is a part of LIFE, you aren’t whipped, It is not weakness, it is not condemnation, it isn’t because you did life wrong and it does not mean that God has given up on you. We grieve BECAUSE LIFE MATTERS. Jesus came to give us life and to have it more abundantly-both here in our time and eternally in our heavenly home! In that abundance, in this time, comes loss. With each loss we are reminded that all that we see is not all that there is to see. With each loss we learn and grow and trust. Sometimes that trust will only come when the unseen hand of Jesus is all that we have.
Our losses are not always to death. Yours could be a relationship, job, money, health, or our frustration with life changes. The sisters in our scripture were faithful, certain of Jesus, rich, generous and still have the same grieving as all of the rest. And Jesus was faithful to meet them there. He is faithful to meet us where we are also. In out faithfulness, there is still loss-that is Not defeat it is a human condition. A condition conquered by the sanctifying faith and grace of Jesus Christ.
Two things: First, we must be rid of our grave clothes. In Christ you will find victory when life stinks. You will have to work for it sometimes and the journey of faith will often be scary and uncertain but it will not be boring. This is your life-Die like you are living eternally and don’t live like you are dying. Participate in your lives and squeeze all of the good stuff out. Then share your story.
So second, we don’t live only for ourselves. Take another look verse 44: “Jesus said to “them“, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.””. Them, brothers and sisters, is us. We are the everyday saints, not perfect but redeemed, we are God called to share true living with those bound in a mummy’s rags. our story of faith matters.
This is what ministry is, Many activities, done in many ways, using our many talents, at various times, to build us up, and ultimately to point to the resurrected Christ to others. This service remembered our dead, but it is ministry to you, me, and we as the church as we celebrate and share the gift of the abundant life in Christ.
This post is a follow-up to our sermon from Sunday and I pray it touches your heart and that you have a church to be “Welcome Home”. If you don’t, please click on the link below and check out our Family. We would love to welcome you whenever you find yourself in our corner of East Texas. Come and see us!