First Lesson: Jeremiah 31: 1-6
Second Lesson: Acts 10: 34-43
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 28: 1-10
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Today’s Gospel lesson from Matthew 28 is ultimately a story about a Mother and a Son.
It’s a tale of a Mother who was amazed by her child at early age of twelve as her son had gotten so smart that he even amazed the greatest religious scholars of his day.
It’s a tale of a Mother who was present at the first miraculous thing that he did in his life, when he turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Yet what most people don’t realize about this miracle is that it only took place after her son had received his Mom’s encouragement.
It’s a tale of a mother who just two days previous saw her son being nailed to the cross in agonizing pain, yet all she could do was hurt on the inside as she saw her son in pain. The relationship between Mother and Son was close. Mary had followed her son to the cross even when the disciples did not.
It’s a tale of a Mother who went to her Son’s tomb on a Sunday morning, even though she knew it would be painful. The Mother was a real stickler for tradition. It was custom to return to your loved one’s tomb for days after their death to mourn. The Mother was going to return to her son’s tomb, just like she returned to the tomb for days after her husband’s death years before. The Mother approached the tomb on that Sunday morning, slumbering through; the previous few days had been emotionally exhausting as she had lost a child too young.
The Mother was experiencing a moment in life that many of us know. The Mother was experiencing that time when our minds can’t stop thinking about those who have been taken from us whether it be a spouse, a parent, a grandparent, a child, or a friend. The Mother went to the tomb that Sunday morning overwhelmed by the loss of her son, while thinking how she would stop at nothing to bring him back to her.
Yet something strange had happened at the crack of dawn that Sunday morning. An earthquake had shaken Judea. This was the second earthquake to hit Judea in a two day period. The previous earthquake had happened two days before, right at the moment of her son’s death.
The Mother didn’t know what to make of this earthquake? She thought it to be nothing more than random chance.
Yet, as the Mother and another woman, Mary Magdalene approached her son’s tomb that Sunday morning they saw something amazing! An angel appeared before them appearing brighter than lightning. This Angel then proceeded to roll away the stone which sat in front of her son’s tomb and sit on it. The Roman soldiers who were guarding the tomb were so scared by the meaning of all this that they fainted in fear.
The first words out of the Angel’s mouth were “Do not be afraid”.
These words had been spoken to the Mother one other time in her life, when an angel Gabriel had appeared before her to proclaim to her that she would soon bear a child to be called “Jesus”.
These words of “Do not be afraid” spoken to the Mother were important because they were meant to announce to her that everything she went to the Tomb thinking about death previously was no longer going to apply.
The Angel’s next words to Mary the Mother spoke to this truth, “I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised.” “Come; see the place where he lay”.
Earlier that week her son had spoken words that no one quite understood what they meant at that time “Tear down this temple and it will be rebuilt in three days” These words were thought to refer to the physical place, her son was when he spoke them.
Yet what these words really meant is that the words that her Son had spoken throughout his entire ministry were true. God’s promises were certain. God will forgive your sins.
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
For when Mary was told to “Come, see the place where her son had previously laid”, Mary had been given a new hope that she couldn’t have fathomed before she had awakened on that day.
In 1982, one of the most popular movies of all time came out in: ET: The Extra Terrestrial. E.T. tells the story of a ten year old boy named Elliott who longed for more than anything a deeper connection with the world around him. Elliott’s whole world changes when he discovers ET, an alien, hiding in his family’s tool shed. E.T’s supernatural power is on display in the film as he is able to revive a previously dead germanium. The majority of the movie centers on the friendship between Elliot and E.T. E.T though one day begins to grow very sick due from being away from his own planet. So Elliot and E.T. devise a plan for E.T. to phone home so he can be rescued. Yet before ET can go home, the Government discovers E.T., quarantines him, and E.T. slowly dies.
In the most heartwarming scene of the entire movie Elliott begins to grieve over a motionless E.T., grieving over the loss of his closest friend in the world. It was right when Elliott was at his lowest that he noticed something unbelievable out of the corner of his eyes (The very same germanium, E.T. had revived, had died, and was now coming back to life. E.T’s own lifeless corpse, then comes alive! You can’t describe the look in Elliott’s eyes at this moment, but it was probably similar to the look that came over Mary’s eyes on that Easter Sunday morning as she was told that her son was dead, no more!
For there is a lot you can tell about a person from looking into their eyes. I know as a Preacher there are certain people you don’t want to look at, when you’re giving a sermon on Sunday morning.
The eyes tell you of a person’s interest, the eyes tell you of a person’s grief, and the eyes tell you of a person’s pain even when their mouth might claim otherwise. There is no more magical moment in the world when eyes that are going through grief are given a word of hope.
Hollywood makes movies with happy endings, where truly good news can only come when we’ve been shaken from our previous way of life, when rock bottom has been flipped upside down.
The Apostle Paul writing about 20 years after Christ’s death in a letter to the church in Corinth, described the Resurrection well when he said:
“Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed!”
The ultimate meaning of Easter is that there is life beyond the grave. Death no longer stands in judgment over us. The interesting way that the New Testament speaks of death is it speaks of it most commonly as “sleep”, a casual time of rest before awakening for the new day of resurrection.
For what we are reminded today is that the same Jesus who wept bitterly over his friend Lazarus’ death right before Palm Sunday knows the suffering involved in death. How death is the most emotionally and spiritually painful thing that we shall ever encounter, this is why God went through death on the cross. What the resurrection reminds us ultimately is God has dealt with the failures of our past, by declaring us to be perfect in Christ Jesus, thereby giving us hope for the future no matter what we shall endure.
As Mary went to the tomb grieving that Sunday morning, it speaks to the nature of all our grief. We grieve because death is unnatural. Death is not what God intended for his creation. Death reminds us that we were not intended to be separated from God and our loved ones this way. We were not born to live short lives and then die.
But we do no want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the those who have no hope”- I Thessalonians 4:13
This is the meaning of resurrection.
Luther described Easter best years ago when he said “In the midst of life we are ringed ’round by death,’ but the gospel reverses this, saying: in the midst of death we are ringed ’round by life,’ because we have the forgiveness of sins.”
Mary the Mother and Mary Magdalene left the tomb that day with fear and great joy. They had fear because they did not know what the days ahead ushered in by this new reality of resurrection might bring, yet they had great joy because they were convinced that there is life after death. They left the tomb with great joy, because they were now convinced that eternal life was unlike any life they had previously known. They came to realize that this event they had just witnessed was so earth-shattering to their existence that they are described as running to Galilee over 70 miles away to tell the disciples about it.
What Easter ultimately meant to Mary was that those whom she held dear, would not be forgotten, they would not be abandoned. Mary could go forth in confidence because the victory over sin and death had already been won. Mary could go forth with a voice of reassurance given by the one who overcame sin, death, and the grave.
He is risen. He is risen indeed! Amen!
 Luke 2:41-52,
 John 2:1-11
 Matthew 28:2
 Matthew 27:51
 Matthew 28:3
 Matthew 28:4
 Matthew 28:5
 Luke 1:26-38
 Matthew 28:6
 John 2:19
 John 11:25
 John 3:16
 1 Corinthians 15:51
 John 11:35
 Ted. R. “Michael Spencer Has Died”. New Reformation Press Blog. 5.Apr.2010. Web. Apr.16.2014
 LW 13:43
 Matthew 28:8
 Matthew 28:10
First Lesson: Ezekiel 37: 1-14
Responsive Reading: Psalm 130
Second Lesson: Romans 8: 6-11
Gospel Lesson: John 11: 1-45
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Our story for today begins the week before the last week of our Lord’s life.
Jesus had just received word that one of his closest friends a man named Lazarus was ill. Jesus was quite close to not only Lazarus, but also his sisters Martha and Mary.
They were so close to each other that Jesus would frequently dine at their house as mentioned in an earlier Gospel story. The terms that the Disciples use to describe Lazarus’ and Jesus’ relationship of “Lazarus whom you love” were so unique that they were only bestowed upon one more of Jesus’ relations the Apostle John.
Lazarus wasn’t supposed to be so ill at such a young age. Jesus and Lazarus were about the same age near 30. They had joked around together and enjoyed each others stories.
If Lazarus had died it would have been devastating for his sisters Martha and Mary. Lazarus was the breadwinner for the family. Lazarus had done quite well for himself. If Lazarus had died, his sisters’ financial situation would have been devastated. Woman didn’t work outside the home. Martha and Mary would have seen the family’s savings slip away, and be left to live the remaining of their days as nothing more than charity cases.
When the Disciples informed Jesus of Lazarus illness, Jesus’ response to them was odd. He believed that Lazarus’ illness would not lead to death. Jesus had a confidence that the Son of Man was going to be glorified through what had happened. The Disciples had heard this language before. Just recently, Jesus had healed a man born blind where he stated that this man’s blindness occurred “so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” The Disciples had witnessed all sorts of unbelievable things in their time with Jesus.
-Jesus had changed Water into Wine
-Jesus had healed an Official’s Son on his death bed
-Jesus had healed a man who had been unable to get out of bed for 38 years
-Jesus had managed to feed 5000 people with five barely loaves and two fishes 
-Jesus had walked on Water
So when the Disciples heard Jesus predict that Lazarus wasn’t going to die. They didn’t think anything of it. What the Disciples found odd is that Jesus said they were going to wait two days before traveling to see Lazarus.
Lazarus lived in Bethany just outside Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples were camping out by the Jordan River about 20 miles away. The last time that Jesus had visited Lazarus previously, he was nearly stoned to death after claiming that “He and the Father were one”.
Some of the Disciples were hesitant that going to see Lazarus was a good idea. They feared for their own life.
Yet Jesus needed to go see his friend “His friend Lazarus who had fallen asleep, so that he may awake him.” One of Jesus’ disciples, a man named Thomas. A man who would later be known as “The Doubter” insisted that they travel to Jerusalem together. Thomas figured that if Jesus was going to die that “that he was going to die with him”.
After two days the Disciples started their journey, they finally neared the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Lazarus had already been buried in the tomb for four days.
Martha the older sister heard that Jesus was in the vicinity, so she went to meet him outside the village. I should tell you a little bit about Martha. Martha was blunt. Martha had no filter as to what was appropriate to say. Martha was going to tell you what she thought. She didn’t care how religious Jesus might have been. The last time that Jesus had visited Mary and Martha for dinner, Jesus had to chide Martha for chewing out her sister Mary for her laziness.
As soon as Martha saw Jesus approaching her, she was ready to confront him. The first words out of her mouth were said in a mix of sadness and anger when she stated ““Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Martha knew that God alone could have saved Lazarus’ life. Jesus had dealt with angry people before. Yet there’s something different about seeing anger in someone as close to him as Martha.
So as Jesus heard Martha’s complaint about his lack of presence at her brother’s death, he merely mouthed the following words “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha thought this sounded all good that her brother would rise at sometime in the distant future, perhaps at the end of time itself.
Yet these words did very little to ease Martha’s actual pain at this given moment. Then Jesus paused for a moment. The next words that came out of Jesus’ mouth would be words that Martha was always going to remember. These words gave Martha a faith and a hope regarding her brother’s death that she couldn’t have imagined having just moments prior.
Jesus said to Martha, “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.”
He then asked Martha “Do you believe this?”
To which Martha responded “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
At this moment, Martha and Jesus traveled to their home with Martha. Martha went inside the house to go get her sister Mary.
I suppose I should tell you a little bit about Mary. Mary was the younger sister. Mary was the free-spirit and the life of the party. Mary’s emotions played out though a bit differently then Martha’s. Martha would get angry in her grief, where as her sister Mary was perpetually sad.
In the four days since her brother had died, Mary had done nothing it seemed but cry and cry some more. Mary’s emotions were so strong that had been tough to witness. Mary’s other friends were afraid to leave her alone because she was having such a hard time dealing with her brother’s death. As soon as Mary laid eyes upon Jesus, Mary mouthed the same words as her sister “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Jesus’ response to though to Mary was different than it was for Martha. Jesus was overwhelmed by the emotion in the room. Jesus decided now was not the time for a sermon. Jesus was going to say nothing. Jesus was deeply moved by all the grief that he was witnessing for not only Mary but also her friends. All Jesus could ask was “Where have you laid Lazarus?”
Then everybody in the room witnessed something they never expected to see. Jesus wept. Jesus whole being was overwhelmed by the emotion of this moment. What made Jesus weeping so surprising is that people cry at moments of powerlessness, at moments that they can’t fix the situation that they are in. Yet Jesus weeping was different. Jesus wept because he couldn’t stand seeing Martha and Mary in pain. Jesus couldn’t stand the thought of his good friend Lazarus lying in the tomb. Jesus’ emotions were such that he was acting like someone who had just lost their best friend to a cancer or a car accident. What this scene indicated was that the one who claimed to be of God was not indifferent to the human plight.
Once Jesus began to compose himself, then Jesus, Martha, Mary, their friends, and the Disciples approached Lazarus’ tomb. The tomb was a cave with a giant stone lying in front of it. Jesus commanded that the stone be removed from the front of the tomb. Martha dreaded this happening because of the stench of four days of death having been upon Lazarus. Martha saw no point in moving the stone from the front of the tomb only to see her brother’s dead body. Martha had given up on ever seeing her brother Lazarus again.
Then Jesus said to Martha “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
And as soon as the stone was lifted from in front of the tomb, Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven saying “So they took away the stone.
And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 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.”
When Jesus had said all these things he cried out in a loud voice “Lazarus, come out.”
What Martha, Mary, their friends, and Jesus’ disciples saw next was the most unbelievable thing that he ever seen in their whole life. Out walks a mummy with his hands and his feet bound with linen strips along with his face wrapped in cloth. Lazarus had risen from the dead!
Word of this miracle spread quickly. Many of the Jews in attendance quickly believed that Jesus was the Son of God. Where as others went to the Pharisees and Chief Priests with fear for what they had just witnessed, the Pharisees and the Chief Priests grew greatly nervous that this Jesus fellow was going to provoke a popular uprising amongst the people. This was going to cause the ruling Romans to removing the religious authorities from their position of powers for failing to keep the crowd under control. In the meantime, rumors of Jesus’ miracle in raising Lazarus started to spread amongst the people of Jerusalem like wild fire.
The word was that he was going to march into the city the very next day. This crowd would gather alongside the road waving palm branches. They had a hope that this Jesus was going to make the upcoming Holy Week of the Passover the most memorable one they had ever witnessed. When the Chief Priests heard of the crowd that was gathering on Jesus’ behalf they plotted to take Lazarus’ life so word of his miracle not spread any further.
Later that night, Martha, Mary, Jesus, Lazarus, and the Disciples gathered for Dinner. At this dinner, Mary the free-spirited sister did something quite odd. Mary grabbed an expensive bottle of perfume (worth one’s year salary) and wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. One of Jesus’ disciples named Judas was mad about this display. Judas couldn’t believe that Mary wouldn’t rather instead sell this bottle of perfume and give it to the poor. Judas didn’t really care about the poor; he rather instead wished to steal from the Disciples’ common purse. Yet Jesus realized the significance of Mary’s actions. Mary was preparing Jesus for his burial. Jesus knew that as dined at the house of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary that he was about to begin the last week of his life.
Jesus’ life would end that next Friday. Standing by Jesus as he hung to death on the cross were Martha and Mary. Martha and Mary then accompanied his body to it’s burial. Just like was the case with their brother Lazarus, mourners were supposed to return to the tomb for three days after burial. The following Sunday, Jesus would walk out of the tomb before their very eyes no different than their brother Lazarus.
As for Lazarus, he and his sisters were amongst the first Christians. They proclaimed to everyone they encountered that there Lord had risen from the dead, and he had promised to be the resurrection and the life for them. They proclaimed God’s love for all people just like he had for Lazarus.
Eventually Lazarus, Martha, and Mary left Bethany behind to move to the island of Cyprus where Lazarus would become a Bishop. Many would come to faith because of their testimonies. According to tradition, Lazarus lived thirty more years after his resurrection. Yet Lazarus never smiled during this time. In the four days of his death, Lazarus had journeyed to Hades where he had to see the fate of unredeemed souls. The sights that he saw caused him to never look at life the same way again.
Lazarus, Martha, and Mary would all pass on in Cyprus. Yet when each one died, their siblings would look at the death bed remembering the time that Jesus wept alongside them in their grief. Yet they were always reminded of those most important words of Jesus’ ministry that he had spoken to Martha long ago when he said, “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. Amen
 Luke 10:38-42
 John 20:2
 John 9:3
 John 2:1-11
 John 4:46-54
 John 5:2-17
 John 6:1-15
 John 6:15-21
 John 10:31, 39
 John 10:30
 John 11:11
 John 11:16
 Luke 10:38-42
 John 11:21
 John 11:23
 John 11:24
 John 11:25-26 a
 John 11:26 b
 John 11:27
 John 11:33
 John 11:33
 John 11:34
 John 11:35
 John 11:38
 John 11: 39a
 John 11:39 b
 John 11:40
 John 11:41-42
 John 11:43
 John 11:44
 John 11:45
 John 11:48
 John 12:9-11
 John 12:1
 John 12:4
 John 12:5
 John 12:6
 John 12:7
 John 12:8
 This is according to Eastern Orthodox Tradition.
 Eastern Orthodox Tradition.
 John 11:25-26