Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘Faith’s Reward: Resurrection and Life’
© April 24, 2016 by Steve Mickelson
Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #616 (Christian Baptism – from Matthew 3 and 28, Acts 2, Romans 6); Prayer
Opening Hymn #365: I Am Weak, but Thou Art Strong; Choruses
Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers
Scriptures: Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44; John 12:1-8
Let us pray…
Good morning and welcome to our Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church.
Today’s lesson is entitled: ‘Faith’s Reward: Resurrection and Life’, which could have the included a subtitle taken from the illustration on the front of today’s Bulletin: ‘It’s Friday but Sunday’s Coming’.
Our Lesson includes three Scripture passages which describe Jesus visiting two of his disciples and friends who lived in the village of Bethany, Martha and Mary, under three different circumstances, with the second and third Scriptures include a third disciple and friend, the women’s brother, Lazarus.
Our first passage, from Luke’s Gospel, describes how Martha invites Jesus into her home, Luke 10:38-42 (ESV):
Martha and Mary
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus[a] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary.[b] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
While Martha is busy with serving food, she becomes distracted from her serving by observing that her sister sits at Jesus’ feet listening to the Lord’s teaching. Martha is so anxious and upset by Mary not helping her sister serve, that she implores Jesus to instruct Mary to help her, complaining that Jesus does not seem to care that Martha has been left alone to do serving duties. Jesus replies by compassionately rebuking Martha for being anxious and troubled about “many things”, indicating that Mary by choosing to listen to the Lord’s teachings, she has chosen to consume the good portion, which is the “Bread of Life”, which will not be taken from her.
Our second Scripture, from John’s Gospel, gives the account where the sisters ask Jesus to visit their brother Lazarus, who is quite ill, John 11:1-44 (ESV):
The Death of Lazarus
11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Jesus, when asked to attend his beloved friend Lazarus, gives a seemingly strange reply that Lazarus illness will not lead to death, but will to glory of both God and the Son of God. And Jesus delays departing to visit his friends by two days, as we continue reading in Luke 11:
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin,[b] said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
After two days, Jesus tell the disciples that it is time to awaken his “sleeping” friend, indicating no fear of the Jews who sought to stone the Lord and that the death of his friend will offer him an opportunity to give them a sign, so that they may believe.
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles[c] off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[d] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Jesus arrived to find Martha, Mary and many Jews mourning the death of Lazarus. Martha greets Jesus, indicating her brother would have not passed if the Lord were present.
Jesus replies to Martha, that her brother will “rise again.” Thinking that Jesus is referring to the Judgement Day, when he asks whether she believes Lazarus will be resurrected, Mary acknowledges him as Lord, the Christ, Son of God. Let us continue with John 11:
28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved[e] in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus then asks for Martha to send for Mary, the Lord choosing to remain at the place where Martha had met him, just outside the village. Assuming Mary is leaving for her brother’s tomb, the Jews follow Mary from the house to where Jesus awaits. Mary falls at Jesus’ feet, weeping that if he were present, he brother would not have died. Jesus was deeply moved and troubled in his spirit by the weeping of Mary and the Jews that asked to be brought to the tomb, where Jesus wept. John 11:35, happens to not only be the shortest verse in the Bible, but speaks volumes about the love and compassion that Christ has for those whom he loves. We see that Jesus now shows a sign that demonstrates the glory of God:
Jesus Raises Lazarus
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 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.”
Footnotes: a. John 11:6 Greek he; also verse 17 b. John 11:16 Greek Didymus c. John 11:18 Greek fifteen stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters d. John 11:25 Some manuscripts omit and the life e. John 11:33 Or was indignant; also verse 38
It is interesting that as the Lord instructs Martha to have the stone removed from the entrance of Lazarus’ tomb, and Martha worries and complains to Jesus that after four days Lazarus’ body will give an odor of death.
Jesus demonstrates to Martha, Mary and the Jews gathered at the tomb, that he is indeed the resurrection and the life, by calling Lazarus to rise to life and come out of the tomb.
This brings us to our third and final Scripture passage, John 12:1-8 (ESV):
Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound[a] of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it[c] for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
Footnotes: a. John 12:3 Greek litra; a litra (or Roman pound) was equal to about 11 1/2 ounces or 327 grams b. John 12:5 A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer c. John 12:7 Or Leave her alone; she intended to keep it
Jesus returns to the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, this time to be the guest of honor of a dinner, served to celebrate the resurrection of Lazarus.
While Martha serves the meal, with Lazarus reclining at the table with Jesus. Mary anoints the feet of Jesus with an expensive, fragrant ointment, wiping the Lord’s feet with her hair.
For her actions, Mary again becomes the object of ridicule, this time by the disciple Judas. Judas complains that the anointing is a waste of money and a better use of the ointment would have been selling it and giving the money to the poor.
Jesus tells Judas to leave Mary alone as the ointment could be used for his own impending death and burial. After all, anointing Jesus was an act that celebrates God’s glory, Christ’s lordship over death, as witnessed by the resurrection of Lazarus.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #40: To God be the Glory
Benediction – (Philippians 4:23) The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. – Amen