All Saints Day 2021 Jesus Wept at the News Sermon
This morning our Gospel text captures a profound moment in the life of Jesus – the death of Lazarus, the one whom He loved. And our text today makes it clear that Jesus was heartbroken by the news of the death of His friend – and that He wept when the news was brought to Him.
And this is important for us to note, because when Jesus wept Jesus demonstrated for us that sorrow is something that we all will experience. Grief is a part of life.
Even though Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus to life, Jesus cried over the loss of His friend. Jesus did this because He knew that we must face our feelings. And Jesus knew that we cannot suppress our grief. Grieving is a process that requires acknowledging our feelings. Yes, it is going to hurt. But ignoring it will only make it worse.
Yes, Jesus was and is a great grief counselor. And if this were the only “Good News” that our text highlighted today, we would be blessed.
But our text does not stop there. Instead, the text further highlights that death does not have the last say in our lives.
As we examine the text today, we immediately notice that this event was unique, because when Jesus had raised others from the dead people could make the claim that Jesus had merely awaken these folks from a deep sleep or coma. But there was no mistake this time that Jesus had in fact raised Lazarus from the dead.
It was common knowledge at the time that after four days in the tomb the spirit would have left the body and the decay process would have been well underway, especially in the hot Mid-East climate. Lazarus was dead. Nobody that day could deny this fact.
Nevertheless, Jesus demanded that the stone be removed. And after reminding Martha that He had told her that she would see amazing things, Jesus prayed to His Heavenly Father and then spoke with power and authority and said “Lazarus, come out!”
And Lazarus came out with his hands and feet bound with strips of fabric, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Then Jesus gave His final instruction “Unbind him, and let him go.”
“Unbind him, let him go.” Jesus is making it clear that death does not have the final say for our lives. “Unbind him, let him go!” With these words Jesus is demonstrating that the power of death through Him has been conquered forever. “Unbind him, let him go!” Jesus is comforting Martha and all who witnessed the event that death is not God’s plan for humanity.
Death does not have the last word in your life or my life. And yet, it is so easy to forget this Good News. Living today between Christ’s Resurrection and His Second Coming it is so easy to limit ourselves to a scientific world view and not comprehend a life beyond our physical life today.
And if we are not careful, we can wrap ourselves in clouds of doubt and entomb ourselves in the hopeless belief that everything ends when we die. That is why today’s text is so important, because through the rising of Lazarus, Jesus offers us a vison of the life to come, where death and weeping will be no more, a time when the grieving process will be no more.
A time that Paul described to the people in Corinth where “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” Paul wrote “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:54b-57
And so, like Lazarus, we too need someone to unbind us and let us go, so we can live the future that God has prepared for us.
Today is the Feast of All Saints, a day when we traditionally pause to remember the saints of the past, the men, and women, and children who once served with us, but now rest from their labors.
And All Saints Day can be an emotional day; because it is the day when we call up from our congregational database the names of the people who have died this past year and include them in our prayers.
But it can also be a colorful day because it is the day when people buy flowers and take then to the cemetery to decorate the final resting place of their loved ones, or to the church to decorate a cross with fresh flowers in their memory.
And these are great ways to remember the saints of the past.
But I do hope that on All Saints Sunday we would also remember that we are all saints. The Bible teaches us that all Christians, who have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection are saints who are part of the mission all Christians share as the Body of Christ.
And what mission do we share?
Our text today helps us to discern the mission we all share. Notice that in our Gospel text today we see Jesus do two significant things.
One. Jesus ordered Lazarus to come out. Two. Jesus ordered the community to unbind the man.
The miracle today is a reminder to us that while Jesus has the power to overcome death, we are commanded to unbind our family, and our friends, and our neighbors from all that limits them from the abundant life God has planned for them.
Therefore, let us go forth into the world and share the love of Christ in everything we do as we heed the words “Unbind him, and let him go.” Amen.
Let us pray: Eternal God, neither death nor life can separate us from your love. Grant that we may serve you faithfully here on earth, and in heaven rejoice with all your saints who ceaselessly proclaim your glory. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.