Luke 6, Part I

Faith Lutheran Church Bible Studies
Faith Lutheran Church Bible Studies
We continue our bible study in the gospel of Luke. This morning we move into Luke 6. Here is the hard copy, if you’d like to follow along at home: The gospel of Luke: A Bible Study.

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The Fifth Sunday in Lent

This is the sermon for the Fifth Sunday in Lent. The sermon text is: John 11:17-27, 38-45. The sermon theme is: Jesus is the Lord. Here is the Written Sermon

"<25> Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; <26> and whoever lives by believing in me will never die" (John 11:25–26 NIV11-GK)
“<25> Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; <26> and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25–26 NIV11-GK)

Jesus is the Lord

Do you ever doubt the one you follow? There is a story told about Christopher Columbus. After he got his three ships, he set sail east over the ocean to find India. And at first all his crew had no doubts in him and in his leadership. But, then, as week after week slowly moved by the crew threatened to mutiny. So Christopher Columbus did something interesting to address the problem. He threw a huge amount of their leftover food overboard. And then he told them to do the math. He told them that there wasn’t enough food to turn the boats around and get home. But there was enough food to last till they got to India. And so, out of desperation and necessity they listened to him. Do you ever doubt the one you are supposed to follow? In the words we look at this morning we see Martha doubting Jesus. But before we get to that part of John’s words there are some details we need to know first. First, we need to know that from a human perspective, Martha had every reason to doubt Jesus. For in John 11:17 we read, “On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.” (John 11:17 NIV)

Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha had died. And she sent someone to tell Jesus that Lazarus was really, really sick. And what happened? Nothing. In fact even three days after Lazarus died nothing happened. Finally, on the fourth day Jesus showed up. As the hours went by leading up to Lazarus’ death and then the days that followed, we can begin to see what Martha was thinking. Jesus was delayed. Jesus was somewhere else. And he can’t be everywhere at once. And on top of that, we find another disconcerting detail in the next verse: “Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem.” (John 11:18 NIV)

Two miles. Jesus wasn’t twenty miles away. He was two miles away. Surely he could have made the trip over to see his dying friend and their dying brother. Finally then, on that fourth day Jesus arrives. And this is what happens: 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”” (John 11:20–22 NIV)

Martha was filled with doubt. She was doubting that Jesus was the Lord over space and distance. For everyone has his limits. And Jesus couldn’t be in two places at one time. So she doubts that Jesus is the Lord over distance. But she shows even more confusion and doubt: 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”” (John 11:23–24 NIV)

So earlier we see her doubt over distance. Here we see her doubt over time. Jesus promises to her that her brother will rise. And she says this amazing, beautiful confession of faith: Lazarus will rise on the last day. It’s a beautiful confession. But there’s something missing. What is missing is the fact that Jesus can do more than we can ask or imagine. What is missing is that Jesus is Lord over time itself. If Jesus wants Lazarus to live then he can make him live—not on the last day, but right then and there.

How fitting and natural it is for Martha to say these words. For what she says, we are tempted to think. We are tempted to think that, while Jesus might have power over death, he doesn’t really have absolute, full, complete power. Sad to say, long ago there were Christians who made this doubt into a doctrine. It was called purgatory. Purgatory is this idea that when you die you don’t go to heaven right away. It’s this teaching that Jesus didn’t take away all of your sins. And so you have to help him take away your sins after you die. Purgatory is so very much against what the bible says. But it’s what we naturally think. We all have this enduring temptation to think that Jesus is limited in his power. But Jesus is not limited at all. He is Lord over space and time. And even more powerful and important, he is Lord over death itself. For he tells Martha, 25 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”” (John 11:25–26 NIV)

Jesus is Lord over death at any place and any time. And notice how beautifully he speaks about it here in this verse. First, he says that the one who believes in him will live even though he dies. What a tremendous promise. Jesus is the Lord over physical death. If Jesus delays in coming we will die. But even though we die we will live. Second, Jesus says that the one who believes in Jesus will never die. So Jesus conquers spiritual death too. The moment you die you will be in heaven forever. There is no detour. There is no time where we experience hell and then go into heaven.

Because Jesus rose from the dead he is Lord over sin and death. He is Lord even over our doubts that he can do what he promises to do. But in these words there is more that Jesus is Lord over. He is Lord over death. But he is also the Lord of life. We read, 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”” (John 11:41–42 NIV)

Jesus prays to his Father and preaches to the people gathered there. Now this is totally different than what I expected. I would have expected Jesus to first raise Lazarus from the dead and then say, “look at that, you people—look at what I did.” But Jesus is not just concerned about being the Lord over death. He is also concerned about being the \textsc{Lord of life}. And here he’s not as much concerned about physical life as spiritual life. What good is it for these people gathered there to see an amazing miracle but then not believe that Jesus is the Christ? What good is it for them to have their earthly life and then die and burn in hell forever?

So Jesus preaches to them. And through his preaching his word performs a miracle. It gives faith to them. They believe in him. This is an amazing, comforting event for us to hear today. For there is this unbiblical voice inside of us that tells us that faith is something that we need to earn and choose. But when we face death we see how unbiblical it is to think that faith is what we do for God. Because when we are on our deathbed we will doubt. We will doubt that we had enough quality in our decision. We will doubt that we chose Jesus with enough devotion and sincerity. And we will also doubt that we chose with enough quantity. Did we choose Jesus enough throughout our long lives that he would be pleased with us?

What an amazing gift it is to know that Jesus isn’t just the Lord over death. He is also the Lord of spiritual life. Faith is not our work that we give to God. It’s the gift he gives to us. And that is an amazing comfort. For when we are on our deathbeds and there are doubts in us, how wonderful it is to know that since faith is given to us, it will conquer our doubts. It will give us eternal life.

Today we rejoice that Jesus is the Lord over death and the Lord of life. Now, remind yourself of this fact. Remind yourself of this fact when your parents who taught you God’s word die and when the children that you taught God’s word are away from you. Remind yourself of it when you are strong and healthy. And remind yourself of it when you are sick and weak. Remind yourself of it when your faith is strong and when it is filled with doubts. Remind yourself that Jesus is the Lord over death and the Lord of life. Amen.

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