Text: John 11:1-45
Grace, mercy, and peace to each of you from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
I want to start off this morning with a warning. You pastor is going to be pretty tired over the next few months. At least, I hope it’s a few months. And no, I’m not talking about the baby that is coming to our house in a month or so. There will be tiredness from that too, but I am talking about something else. You see, my hockey team made the playoffs this week. For the first time in 11 years the Edmonton Oilers will be playing hockey when the regular season ends and will have a shot at the Stanley Cup. And, because the Oilers play out west most of their games start pretty late. I’m going to be a little tired as long as they keep playing.
11 years may not seem like that long of a time, but the last time the Oilers were this good I hadn’t gone to university yet. It was the year after I graduated from high school. I hadn’t even met Leah yet, I wasn’t even considering becoming a pastor yet, and I worked at a home hardware selling plumbing and electrical supplies to people. It was a long time ago, I can hardly remember what it is like to have my team in the playoffs.
Throughout those 11 years of waiting I tried to remind myself that it would have to happen eventually, someday they would break through and be a winning team again, someday. But at times that “someday” seemed pretty far away. It seemed that “someday” might never come. But someday is here, right now, staring me in the face. In a couple weeks the Oilers will be playing playoff games, it is going to happen. Until it does though, until they actually start playing the games, it’s going to be hard to get out of “someday” mode and realize that “someday” really happening right now.
I was wondering this week as I thought about our Gospel reading today if our faith gets into “someday” mode sometimes. Do we get to the point of seeing our Christian faith as a “someday” kind of thing that will matter someday in the future or make a difference someday in our lives rather than a right now, everyday kind of thing? I think this does happen to a certain degree. We talk about a lot of “somedays” here at church and the Bible talks about a lot of “somdays” and we can get so distracted by all the things in life that demand our attention that we start to push off our faith as something we will get back to “someday.” In our Gospel reading today though Jesus directs our attention away from “someday” to right now so that we can see what He is doing right now and trust in Him right now for our salvation right now.
Jesus’ friends Mary and Martha call Jesus to come visit them in Bethany right away because their brother Lazarus is sick, really sick. Lazarus is dying. Jesus gets the message, but He delays a couple days before He even starts the trip. When He finally does arrive at Bethany and the home of Mary and Martha, Lazarus is already dead. In fact, Lazarus has already been dead and laying in his tomb for four days. When Jesus arrives Martha says to Him, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
Jesus responds, “Your brother will rise again.”
And Martha says, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Martha believes in Jesus, Martha believes in what Jesus has come to do. Martha believes (just like we do) that Jesus will come again on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead. Martha believes that Jesus is the promised Saviour. Martha believes in Jesus. But Martha is stuck on someday. Someday, when the Last Day comes, her brother will rise again.
Martha isn’t wrong. This is exactly what Jesus has promised to us, He will come again and all who have died and been laid in the ground will hear the voice of Jesus and they will get up and walk out of their tombs and those who believe in Christ and trust in Him for the forgiveness of their sins will be taken into the new heavens and new earth that God has prepared for those who trust in Him. Martha is right on point here. She gets it. But, at the same time, she does not understand the whole picture. She has made a mistake, it is a pious, well-meaning mistake, but a mistake nonetheless. She is stuck on someday. She looks at Jesus and does not see that He is not just good news for someday or a saviour for someday, but a saviour for today, for right now.
Jesus responds to Martha’s very correct and well-meaning words about the resurrection on the Last Day by saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die?”
These words from Jesus give hope for the future, but they are not only for the future. “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus says, present tense, right here, right now. This is not just hope for someday this is hope for today. And then we know what Jesus does next, He walks up to that tomb where Lazarus’s dead body has been laying for 4 days, He commands them to roll the stone away, and then He calls Lazarus out of the tomb and Lazarus walks out. That day, at that very moment, Martha and Mary and all the other people who were gathered around to see Lazarus walk out of that tomb saw what Jesus meant, they saw who Jesus is, they saw the hope that Jesus gives for today.
I think we lose sight sometimes of the hope that Jesus gives us for today and we forget what Jesus is doing in our lives right now. We fall into the trap of thinking that Jesus only makes a difference someday in the future, when He really is working in our lives right now! How often when we go home from church on Sunday are we really, truly aware that we have just heard Jesus speak to us (not just the pastor!) in His Word and forgive us our sins? Or how often when we walk away from the communion rail on a communion Sunday are we really marvelling at what Jesus has just done, feeding us with His own real body and blood? These are things that Jesus is doing for us right now, this is not someday stuff, it is happening right now. But do we see it? Most of the time we don’t.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life for you right now. You have forgiveness today. Our epistle reading today talks about the present tense reality of what Jesus has done on the cross for us. Paul says, “There is now (at this very moment) no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) Now there is no condemnation for your sin, now there is forgiveness, now there is life, now there is freedom, now God pours out His love for you and does not condemn you for the wrong that you do but freely and joyfully forgives you for the sake of Jesus who bled and died for you on the cross. Now, not just someday, now.
You have eternal life today. Someday your body will die, but you will never really die because Jesus says that everyone who lives and believes in Him will never die. You might look at your life now and think that this doesn’t seem like eternal life or that if this is eternal life then maybe you don’t want it. But Jesus has a wondrous eternity of life in store for you and you are already living in it now. You live in Jesus and He lives in you. You believe in Jesus because He has given you faith. This means that you will never die. You are living eternal life now!
You have a new life today. Jesus changes your life now. Our epistle reading today also says that those who are “in the flesh” cannot please God (Romans 8:8-9). Sinners can’t do the things that please God, they are trapped by sin and death instead. But you have been set free from Jesus, you have died with Jesus, and the old sinful flesh does not hold you anymore. You have a new life, a life in the Spirit with the Spirit of God living in you. In this new life you can, thanks to Christ, do the things that please God. This is your new life!
Jesus makes a difference in Your life right now and makes you a new person who lives this life by faith in the Son of God who died for you, a person who loves their neighbour and prays for enemies and freely gives of themselves because Jesus loved you first and gave His life for you.
Like Martha we often don’t see the implications of what Jesus has done in our life right now. We don’t see what Jesus is doing today. We get caught up thinking about someday and fail to see what is happen right before our eyes. Someday will come, the day will come when Jesus really will raise our bodies from the grave just like Lazarus, but until someday comes we are not left without hope. We are not orphans waiting for Jesus to come back. Until that someday comes we live in the Jesus who died and rose for us. He has forgiveness for you today, eternal life for you today, and new life for you today. Your faith is not just for someday, it is for today and so is Jesus your Saviour. In His name. Amen.