The Great Exchange, John 11:38-57


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“The Great Exchange”
John 11:38-57
April 5, 2020
Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service
Pastor Nicoletti

It is Palm Sunday, and traditionally the service and the sermon are oriented towards the triumphal entry … or they are oriented towards the death of Christ on the cross. Because of that second focus, in some traditions this Lord’s Day has also been referred to more recently as Passion Sunday.

Providentially, our next text in John this morning, John 11:38-57, points us in the direction of Jesus’s sacrificial death. And so we will continue on in John chapter eleven today.

As I have explained the last two Lord’s Days, the three main sections of John chapter eleven really need to be understood in the context of the chapter as a whole, and so I will once more read the entire chapter this morning, even as we focus on verses thirty-eight through fifty-seven.

With that said, let’s now turn to John chapter eleven.

Please listen carefully, for this is God’s Word for us this morning.

11:1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 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.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

This is the word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God.)

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25]

Let’s pray …

Lord, your word is a lamp to our feet
and a light to our path.
And we, as your people, have committed ourselves
to keep your righteous commandments.
In the trials we face,
we ask you, Lord, to give us life according to your word.
As you have accepted our praises this morning,
so now teach us the way you would have us to go.
Your testimonies are our heritage forever,
for they are the joy of our hearts.
Incline our hearts to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.
This we ask in Jesus’s name. Amen.
[Based on Psalm 119:105-108, 111-112]

As we come to our text this morning, we need to start by considering how we should approach it – how we should interpret it. Because there are several indications in and around our text that we are to look below the surface for deeper meanings in this passage.

First, we are given that indication by the author, the Apostle John. In verse fifty we have a cynical political statement made by Caiaphas, the high priest. But then, in verses fifty-one and fifty-two, John jumps in to tell us that this statement had a deeper meaning than Caiaphas, the one who said it, even knew. Caiaphas is thinking politically, but John tells us that Caiaphas’s words had a deeper global, even cosmic, meaning to them.

Second, Jesus indicates that we should also be looking for a deeper meaning in his actions. In verse forty-two Jesus addresses God the Father, and basically says that his words are not for the sake of the act he is accomplishing, so much as they are to instruct those around him – and to instruct them about a deeper meaning in his actions. Jesus is performing a work, but its meaning points beyond itself, to who Jesus is himself, and what he has come to do.

And finally, in his Gospel, John repeatedly indicates that we should view the miracles presented to us not just as mighty works revealing Jesus’s power, but as “signs” – as things that point beyond themselves to something deeper.

And so it is no surprise that this story – the chief miracle that Jesus has performed up to this point in John’s Gospel – that this story too would be a sign, that it would be not only an account of historical events that occurred, but a sign that points to deeper spiritual and cosmic realities.

And so, as we meditate on this text, it presents to us not just a story of Lazarus, but a picture of the physical challenges we face, a picture of the spiritual challenges we face, a picture of the eternal challenges we face, and a picture of the social challenges we face. So: the physical, the spiritual, the eternal, and the social.

And in each of those realms, what we find in our text is a presentation of the problem, a presentation of the solution, and a presentation of the cost.

So that is what I want to focus on this morning: the problem, the solution, and the cost.

First, let’s begin with the problem. What is the problem in our text this morning?

Well, the problem is that death appears to reign.

The problem is that death appears to reign.

Lazarus is dead. He has been dead four days. He has begun to stink. Death has taken him from his sisters. Death had taken him from his friends. Death had taken him. And death appeared to reign over him.

And, of course, the same destination awaits each one of us.

A couple months ago I quoted, at length, from Ernest Becker’s book The Denial of Death. And one main point Becker made is that the way we as modern people are able to go on with life and cope with the brute fact of death, is that, in a variety of ways, we simply deny the reality of death. We live as if it is not true. We live as if the worldly pursuits we devote ourselves to can gain us immortality. When danger lurks, we always expect that death may come to someone else, but not to us.

Of course, humans are extremely good at living in denial, but the current crisis is making it increasingly difficult to deny the reality of death. We are all, in our homes, captives to the threat of death. In other countries the specter of death looms over towns and cities, as the death toll climbs. Some of us already know some who have lost their lives. In our own state it feels as if we are all holed up, waiting for a wave to hit … and wondering if we will know someone who dies of this disease.

We are confronted, right now, as a community, as a country, as a world, with a truth we try so hard to not look at: that death is real, and that if we look at the world honestly, death appears to reign.

And with that, the specter of physical death seems to bring out the reality of spiritual death. While we may try to focus on the good that people are doing, we cannot deny the ugly side of human nature that is there as well – as people hoard, as they look out for themselves instead of their neighbors, as they are more concerned with their own comfort or their own independence than with the protection of those around them.

Though, we don’t only see this spiritual death in others. If we are honest, we see it in ourselves as well. As we are blocked off from at least some of the distractions of our regular lives, we hopefully end up becoming a bit more self-aware. And we notice that we don’t always like ourselves. We don’t like how easily we get frustrated with those around us. We don’t like how quickly we can become contemptuous towards those who call us or video-chat with us … or towards those who don’t call us or video-chat with us. We see the foolish ways we spend our time. We see the dark or ugly ways we distract ourselves. We see the ways that we do not do what we want to do … but what we hate instead.

And we are faced with the uncomfortable reality that we are not the kind of people – in our thoughts or in our actions – that we know we should be. We do not do the good we want to. We do not love as we want to. We know something is wrong in us.

And at the core of that spiritual death is the brokenness in our relationship with God. Left to ourselves, we are severed from our Maker. Though we were made for him, our first parents rebelled against him. And we are naturally estranged from God – naturally rebels ourselves. And in that state, separated from the true source of life, we find ourselves in death. In the physical and the spiritual realms, death appears to reign.

And as it does, it threatens to reign over us not only now, but also into eternity. As C. S. Lewis points out, at root, eternal darkness is not some big disjointed break from a life disconnected from God, but it is simply its continuation. To whatever extent we are on a trajectory away from God, left to ourselves, at the point of death, we continue on that trajectory, free from restraints. To whatever extent we are turned in on ourselves, we turn in on ourselves further and further. To whatever extent we feel ruled by actions, habits, and desires that we do not like, so we become all the more ruled by them. Spiritual death leads to eternal death.

And though we are not there yet, we see its effects already all around us – not just in individuals, but in whole communities – whole societies. We see it around us now, as people seem to divide further into hostilities, even in the face of a common threat. We see it as people try to find a scapegoat for the pandemic – whether a racial group, a religious group, or a political group. But we also see it in our closer relationships – in our families, maybe, as tensions rise under the stay-at-home orders. Social death is around us, and often it appears to reign.

Physical death, spiritual death, eternal death, social death. Each one is around us. We turn our gaze, we avert our eyes, but we are confronted with their realities anyway.

Which has been most before your eyes? Which seems most to reign in what you see right now?

And as you look at these different forms of death, do you take them seriously? Do you really acknowledge their reality?

We can tend to make each of these forms of death abstract, but they are each real, personal, and concrete.

Lazarus is just a story to us, but he was a real man. Martha and Mary and others saw his dead body. They prepared it for burial. They placed it in the tomb. And if that were not real enough, then four days later, his decomposing body stunk. It was real, it was personal, and it was concrete to them.

And so for us.

We may focus on the numbers as they rise, but there is something sobering about the reality of a corpse, that reminds us that physical death is a real thing. And to see its power overcome someone we know or love can be frightening.

Spiritual death also is real, and as we see people hurt one another, or twist in on themselves, or mar the image of God that was imprinted on their being – as we see that tendency in our own hearts – then the power of spiritual death can be frightening.

And as we think about the idea of eternity, and the possibility of eternity apart from our Maker – of eternity left to our own devices – eternity at the mercy of our own impulses and desires, then the threat of this kind of eternal death should be frightening.

And then, as we look at the world on a scale large or small – whether divisions in the world, in our country, or in our community, or in our family – then the reality of social death should be seen as a real thing for us. When we are in these situations we so often focus on winning – on winning the argument with that family member, on winning the debate with that person, on winning that cultural battle – that we fail to see the thing itself: we fail to see the social death before us … but it is there. And if we see it as it is, it is frightening.

When we look at our hearts, at our lives, and the world around us, death appears to reign … just as it did for Lazarus in the tomb … as his body rotted.

That is the problem that we face.

What is the solution we see here in our text?

The solution we are given is that though death appears to reign, Christ has defeated death.

Though death appears to reign, Christ has defeated death.

And not only that, but Christ has defeated death, and he offers new life.

And we see this, of course, with Lazarus in our text. Jesus comes to the tomb. And as Calvin points out, he comes not just to observe, but ready to fight. He comes like a wrestler ready to take on an opponent. The opponent before him is death. And Jesus comes ready for battle. [Calvin, 442]

And Jesus’s weapon here, his sword when standing before death, is his word. And after praying to the Father, he speaks to Lazarus. He cries out with a loud voice: “Lazarus, come out.”

And the dead man rises, and comes out, still covered in burial cloths. Jesus, by the power of his word, defeats death and restores Lazarus to life.

And as we pointed out last Lord’s Day, as amazing as this miracle was, it still was not the fullness of what Jesus promised to his people, or what he came to do. It still was just a sign. It was, in the grand scheme of things, a small defeat of death, and a small restoration of life – because Lazarus still would die one day, and because in so many other ways death still appeared to reign.

But it pointed to something greater. It pointed to the mission of Jesus. The Apostle John told us at the beginning of his Gospel how it was through Jesus that all things were made. Jesus made this world. And though it has been marred by sin and death, he intends to re-make it. He intends to restore it to his creational intent. He intends to defeat sin and death and to make all things new. And in the raising of Lazarus, we get a foretaste of that.

Here we see that Jesus will defeat the physical death that we all face. Jesus gives a sign to all his people – to all who trust in him – that death is not the final word for them – that death will not reign over their mortal bodies. Because though we will die, he will raise us up again. On the last day, when he returns and puts an end to death forever, Jesus will do for all who trust in him what he did for Lazarus, and more – he will raise us up, body and soul, he will bring us back to life in its fullness, and he will make us so that we will never die again.

That is why Christians need not fear death. It’s not because the body is bad and it’s good to be rid of it. It’s not because the physical world is a barrier and it’s good to get it out of the way. Christians need not fear death because we know it is temporary. Christ is stronger, and he will defeat it for all who trust in him.

Jesus has defeated physical death.

But along with that, Jesus has also defeated spiritual death. What we see here in the story of Lazarus, Jesus offers to give to us right now in our hearts – he offers to defeat the spiritual death in our hearts, and to give us spiritual life. Jesus not only has defeated physical death, but spiritual death as well.

He offers to overcome the dominant power of sin in our lives. He offers to grant us forgiveness for the sins we have committed. He offers to give us new spiritual life – life where we know our Maker, where we grow in relationship with him and in love for those around us. Jesus offers to remake us in his image. Jesus calls us, as he calls Lazarus – he calls us to come out of the tomb – out of the domain of death. He gives us the power to respond, just as he gave it to Lazarus. All we must do is stand up, by his power, and come to him.

Jesus has defeated spiritual death, and he offers us true spiritual life.

And then, with that, Jesus also offers us eternal life – not just eternal existence but eternal life. He offers us a right relationship with God that lasts not only for this lifetime, but for eternity to come. He offers us a future relationship with him of perfect love, joy, peace, and acceptance. If eternal death is eternity left to ourselves, apart from God, then the eternal life that Jesus offers us is eternity with God, in perfect and joyous fellowship with him.

Jesus has defeated eternal death and he offers us eternal life.

And finally, Jesus also has defeated social death. Because Jesus is not just restoring individuals in isolation, but he is restoring a people. As Jesus raised Lazarus not just to go off by himself, so he raises up individuals so that they might be united with others – just as Lazarus was reunited with Mary and Martha.

John tells us as much in verse fifty-two: he writes that Jesus came “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered.”

Jesus came to gather those who were scattered – he came to unite those who had been divided and torn apart. Jesus came to establish a new community that brought people together as one – a community in which he restored the unity and the life to our social interactions that he had intended to be there from the beginning, but that had been marred by sin and splintered into division and enmity. In other words, Jesus came to establish his Church.

We can take that blessing for granted. But many of us are appreciating more and more just what a blessing it is … now that we are not able to gather with that community that Christ came to form.

In the Church, in the Family of God, Jesus defeats social death and offers true social life.

And so, though death appears to reign in so many ways, Christ has defeated death and now offers life – he offers physical life in the place of physical death, he offers spiritual life in the place of spiritual death, he offers eternal life in the place of eternal death, and he offers social life in the place of social death.

This is the good news of this text. This is the good news of the gospel. And these are truths we have hit on to different extents and from different angels over the past two weeks.

But then, at the end of our text – at the end of chapter eleven, another element is added. Which is that all of this – the defeat of death, the exchange of life where death had been – all of this good news comes at a cost. And it is only when we see that cost that the fullness of the picture comes into focus.

What we see is that though death appears to reign, Christ has defeated death … and the way he did it was by willingly receiving, himself, the death that we deserved.

Though death appears to reign, Christ has defeated death. And he did it by willingly receiving, himself, the death that we deserved.

And a picture of that plays out right here in our text this morning. That is why we didn’t stop after verse forty-four – it’s why verses forty-five through fifty-seven are so important. Jesus’s work of defeating death for Lazarus, and giving him new life, directly set in motion the events that would lead to Jesus’s death.

By doing this saving work, Jesus alarmed the Pharisees and the chief priests over his power and his potential. They determined that they must work to put him to death. They make that decision together in verse fifty-three, it begins to affect what Jesus is able to do in verse fifty-four, and the orders are given to arrest Jesus when possible in verse fifty-seven. If Jesus had not come and rescued Lazarus, these steps would not have been taken like this.

By saving Lazarus, Jesus committed himself to facing death.

But what is key to recognize is that this was not a surprise to Jesus. Jesus knew this would happen from the start. His disciples clearly saw it – they urge Jesus not to go near Jerusalem in verse eight, because they fear it could put Jesus in danger. And when Jesus decides to go anyway, Thomas was convinced it would lead to Jesus’s death. And he was right.

But Jesus already knew that.

Which means that when Jesus set out to raise Lazarus, he knew what it would cost him. Jesus made a decision: he would willingly receive death, in order to rescue Lazarus from death and give him life.

Jesus decided to make that exchange.

And as he did, he pointed us to the even greater and deeper exchange he would make for all his people, and for the world he had created. So that he might deliver us from death and give us new life, Jesus willingly received in himself the death that we deserved.

That is the gospel. That is the cross.

Now, many who hear this question it. Why was a cost necessary? Why did Jesus have to go to the cross? Couldn’t he just fix things? Couldn’t he just decide to forgive our sins, and repair what we did, and leave it at that?

And the answer, actually, is no. For sins to be forgiven, for the consequence of sin to be undone, a cost had to be paid. God’s perfect justice demanded it.

And that can sound abstract, and it can sound philosophical, but we have all experienced that same reality in very practical and personal ways.

Tim Keller talks about this when he discusses why Jesus had to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. And he points out that when something is broken, there is always a cost to restoring it – whether it is an object, a relationship, or an experience.

Think about it like this: imagine, I come over to your house (after the lockdown is over, of course!), and while I’m there, I break your lamp. Whether I do it on purpose or by accident, I break it. It’s broken. What are your options?

Well, you could just leave it. But now your living room is dark. So let’s say you want to restore the room to what it was, by replacing the lamp that I broke. Well, there’s two ways you can do that. One is that I could pay for it – either because I offer to, or because you demand that I do it. I could pay the cost of restoring your living room by replacing your lamp.

But what if you don’t want to do that? Or what if, for some reason, I can’t afford to replace your lamp?

Well … you could also choose to forgive me for breaking your lamp.

But if you forgive me – if you don’t require that I pay you for what I did, but if you still want to restore your living room – then you will need to pay for a new lamp. You will need to take the cost onto yourself for what I did. But either way, to restore what has been broken, there is a cost. And someone has to pay it.

The same is true in relationships and in our hearts. Let’s say I betray you. I do something selfish, or unkind, and I hurt your feelings on a deep level. Our relationship now is broken. Where do we go from there?

Well, once again, there are really two options: You can make me pay, or you can pay.

One the one hand, you can make me pay by striking back. You can return what I did in kind, and you can exact justice against me. I can pay the penalty for what I did, and that is that. You can demand justice, and get it.

On the other hand, you can choose forgiveness. But when you forgive, the pain from my sin does not just evaporate. You take the pain onto yourself when you forgive. You can choose to restore the relationship, without imposing an equal emotional pain on me. But that is difficult. The process of restoration hurts. Because forgiveness … is painful. It is accepting the consequences for someone else’s sin without making them pay for it. Forgiveness and restoration after a relationship has been broken hurts.

That is not true for us because we are limited humans. It is true for us because that is how justice works.

When something is broken, there is a cost to restoring it. When sin is committed, there is a cost to forgiveness.

And so it is with God. In fact, so it is especially with God, because he is perfectly just.

For God to forgive and restore – for him to bring new life where we had invited death – came with a cost. It came with pain.

In some sense, the cross is the externalization of that cost. The cross is the external expression of that pain, which God took to himself, to pay the price for our sins and make restoration possible.

And so, in order to defeat death in our lives – in order to restore us and bring us new life, Jesus himself willingly received the death that we deserved.

This is true of physical death. Jesus, on the cross, willingly received physical death into himself, so that he might defeat death and raise our bodies up on the last day.

It’s true of spiritual death. Jesus, on the cross, willingly received the punishment – the spiritual death that we deserved – onto himself, so that we might be forgiven.

It’s true also of eternal death. Jesus, on the cross, took onto himself the eternal separation from God that we deserved. He could take our place because he is a human being just as we are. He could take the eternal weight of our sins onto himself in a moment, because, as God, he is infinite.

And finally, he also took on our social death. This may be a bit more mysterious, but it is no less true. John indicates it in verse fifty-two: Jesus died on the cross in order to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. And the unification of those who were divided had a cost. The Apostle Paul wrote of the Jews and Gentiles, who had been divided, that Christ is the peace between them – because he made them both one, and in his flesh, he broke down the wall of hostility that had divided them. [Eph. 2:13-14]

Christ took to himself our social death, as he was cast out by his own, rejected by Jew and Gentile alike. And by his death, he brought together those who had been divided.

In the cross, Jesus paid the ultimate cost, to bring an ultimate solution to our ultimate problem.

Though death appears to reign, Christ has defeated death, and he did it by willingly receiving, himself, the death that we deserved.

And because this is true, we need not fear.

Though physical death seems to loom large in the current crisis and beyond it, we need not fear – because Christ has taken death onto himself. He has defeated it, and in him physical death is always temporary.

Though our sins and weaknesses loom large before us in our lives, we need not fear the spiritual death they bring – because Christ has taken our spiritual death onto himself. He has purchased our forgiveness. He has purchased our sanctification. He is at work in his people and he will bring to completion what he has started – for on the cross he purchased our entire salvation, not just part of it.

Though eternity stretches out before us, we need not fear it, because Christ has promised an eternity with him to all who have placed their full trust in him.

Though division and separation seem to shatter our relationships and communities, we need not fear, because Christ has purchased the unity of his people, and we will be one, both in this life, and even more so in the next life.

Look at where we are right now. Look at where you are.

Look at where I am.

This is not the way it is supposed to be.

If you look at our hospitals, if you look at how we now have to live our lives, if you look at the fact that we are scattered this morning instead of gathered together – death appears to reign.

This is not the way it is supposed to be. But it is also not the way it will remain.

Because Christ, by his blood, has defeated death. He’s defeated physical death. He’s defeated spiritual death. He’s defeated eternal death. He’s defeated social death.

He has won. And death will one day be banished from this world forever. And that future victory, in Christ, is already intruding into the present.

The last few weeks have been hard. The next few weeks may be harder. But for the people of God, for all who trust in Christ, in the end, death will not win. And we will be together again.

For Christ has already paid with his blood for it to be so.

Amen.

This sermon draws on material from:
Augustine. Homilies on the Gospel of John. Tractate XLVIII. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. First Series, Volume 7.
Calvin, John. Commentary on the Gospel According to John. Vol. 1. Translated by William Pringle. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1847 (2005 Reprint).
Carson, D.A. The Gospel According to John. PNTC. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991.
Wright, N. T. John for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 11-21. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2004.