Sermon Review and Application
The raising of Lazarus (John 11) created a domino effect (which we see played out in John 12). Many of the common people—who happened to be gathering for the Passover meal—came to Jesus in droves. I’m sure we can easily understand why. Imagine a prominent figure in the community died, was buried, and left for four days. And then, imagine someone raised him from the dead. Wouldn’t that make quite a splash?
But this splash angered the religious leaders. They wanted to kill him all the more, and they wanted to kill Lazarus too. We should pause here and reflect on the illogical nature of this act. How stupid! You think you can get rid of a guy who raises people from the dead by killing those who he raises? All that is going to do is add to his popularity as he raises them again. But, of course, that’s the nature of sin. When we are tempted to lie, cheat, give someone the cold shoulder, be selfish etc., we never consider the long term consequences. We don’t consider how our actions will likely not get us what we want, and may even be counter to what we really want. I hope this raises in us some healthy distrust in our own assumptions and perspective. We should take “every thought captive in obedience to Christ.” This means prayerfully considering our actions and, where appropriate, getting advice from mature Christians.
Another domino effect is the devotion of Mary. Remember in chapter 11, Jesus said, “did I not tell you, if you believed you would see the glory of God” (John 11:40). Now she believed. And, upon seeing the glory of Christ, she worshiped Him. She gave him the most lavish gift possible and she did it in the most humbling way possible.
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- Do you embrace Christ’s death as the means to life? Do you feel at all embarrassed that the essence of your religion is a man (the God-man) executed in a most cruel and dehumanizing way? Or do you, in Paul’s words, exult in this because it is the way to life? Do you talk about the cross with other Christians? Do you talk about the cross with non-Christians?
- The example of Mary causes us to consider; do you see the glory of Christ? And, upon seeing it, do you give him the most lavish gift you possibly can in the most humbling way you can give it?
- In what concrete ways are you sacrificing yourself for others?
For next week:
Next Sunday (Feb 19th) we will have the opportunity to hear my friend and former pastor, Rob Kaczmarek. Rob is youth and family pastor at North Harford Baptist Church. (This is the church that we were part of before coming to Greenbelt.) Before taking this position, Rob served in Eastern Europe with the IMB.
I’ve asked Rob to preach a sermon from a passage of Scripture that would give us a biblical vision for youth ministry. Right now, our youth group is non-existent. However, that doesn’t mean that our biblical responsibility to care for youth in the church or to evangelize youth outside the church is also non-existent. What, then, is the best—that is, most biblical—way to go about doing this? This is a question that we need to think through as a church. I’ve asked Rob to preach a message that will help get us started.
Now, there is a chance that you might be tempted to think to yourself, “I’m not a youth, I don’t have youth, so why do I need to come?” If you think that, let’s say two things. First, the Bible commands that we assemble together regularly, not just when there is something that we want to hear (Hebrews 10). Second, you ought to come precisely because you think that. You see the responsibly to care for one another—and this includes youth—is not given just to the pastors, deacons, or youth workers, it is given to the church. Also, if we have a more formal youth ministry in the future (and I pray that we will, one day), we need to think through what this will look like as a church. There are some youth groups that are not helping youth to be faithful Disciples of Christ. In fact, they may even encourage the opposite. We don’t want this kind of youth group.