St. Stephen’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School | Beaver Dam, WI | 920.885.3309

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Sunday: 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m.
Thursday: 6:30 p.m.
Friday: 1:30 p.m. (Shortened)





Striving to speak God’s saving truth in love. Ephesians 4:15







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We Confess Our Faith in Christ


A sermon on John 11:17-27, 38-45 for the 5th Sunday in Lent, March 29, 2020.

Each week after the sermon we confess our faith with either the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed. This confession gives a brief overview of our Christian faith. We confess our faith in the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We lay out how the Father created and continues to sustain the world. The Son redeemed the world by his life, death, and resurrection. The Holy Spirit creates saving create faith and keeps the faithful strong in their faith through the preaching of the Word and use of the sacraments. Both these Creeds point us and others to Christ in whom we believe.

These Creeds also show the confidence we have in Jesus because of all the things he has done for us. In our lesson from John’s gospel this morning we have a wonderful confession of faith from Martha. It centers on the power of God’s promises. We see the confidence emanating from Martha and the others around the tomb after Jesus’ miracle. This very same confession and confidence can be ours as well.

We Confess Our Faith in Christ
I. Our confidence in his power.
II. Our confidence in our resurrection.

Four days. That was how long it had been since Lazarus had died. Jesus heard from a messenger that Lazarus had been ill. However, he did not head to see Lazarus right away. Another messenger came to bring the sad news that Lazarus died. Jesus still did not go. He delayed another two days, and then he made the journey to visit Mary and Martha.

On the fourth day after Lazarus’ death Jesus arrived near a village, where he had visited other times during his earthly ministry. Lazarus, along with his two sisters, Mary and Martha, opened their home to Jesus before. They lived in a little village called Bethany. It was less than two miles from Jerusalem.

Because of the close proximity to Jerusalem, many people, not only from Bethany but from Jerusalem as well, gathered at Mary and Martha’s house to comfort them in their distress.

Martha caught wind that Jesus was near. She got up and rushed out to meet him. This was a change from the last time we heard about Mary and Martha. Martha busied herself with all the preparations around the house. She focused on the meal, the dishes, and all the details behind the scenes. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to his Word. Jesus commended Mary for her zeal to hear the Word of God while chiding Martha for worrying too much about the externals.

This time Martha would not sit idly by. She ran to Jesus saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Strong words to lay at the feet of the Savior. It sounded like Martha blamed Jesus. He had delayed. He could have helped. He could have healed. Yet, he was not present at the time when Lazarus needed him the most.

Do we sometimes act that way with God? When things do not go our way, we come before God wanting to place the blame at Jesus’ feet. When difficult times fly into our life, we wonder why God is missing.

Our financial portfolio takes a nose dive with the stock market going up and down. Lord, if only you would allow the economy to settle down, I would be able to rest with a lot more security when it comes to my retirement funds. A couple prays and prays that God would bless them with a child. Lord, if only you would give me what I want, then my family would be complete. The doctor brings a diagnosis that will change our life and our families’ life forever. Lord, if only you would have been with me, I would not have this health trouble. The list can go on. We blame God for all our troubles.

Martha showed her faith in Jesus through all things. She would not dare question Jesus’ goodness. Her faith makes her confident to say, “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you” (John 11:22). She came trusting that Jesus could do anything he wanted, yes even now at the death of her brother Jesus could work a miracle.

This humble faith is one that we should emulate. We might selfishly come with our own ideas and ways in how God should act, but we finally put our will behind God’s will. We confess our confidence in God’s promises to give us his good things in his good time according to his good will. We trust that God’s plans and purposes will always be enough to get us through. We know that even in difficult times God will still be there. Our hearts can rest in peace for God’s promises will never disappoint.

We confess our faith in Christ, which means putting our confidence in his promises. This also means that our confidence lies in the fact that Jesus will get us through all things in our life bringing us to life everlasting.

Jesus knew Martha’s distress at this time. He offered the following words of comfort, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). Martha knew this great comfort. “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the Last Day” (John 11:24). Martha took comfort in the resurrection that would take place on Judgment Day. Lazarus would rise again. All the saints would rise again. Martha trusted this promise with all her heart.

Jesus took it one step further. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish” (John 11:25-26). Jesus pointed to himself as the resurrection. He alone possessed power over death. Jesus gives life, and he alone takes life. If anybody could provide the greatest comfort in the face of extreme sorrow, Jesus could.

In fact all those who believed in Jesus will never die. Lazarus, although his earthly body succumbed to death, lived on. His soul enjoyed the eternal bliss of heaven, life in the presence of his heavenly Father. Martha did not have to any doubt for she confessed a faith that rested in God’s power to overcome death and give his people the resurrection.

Jesus could make this promise because of what he would do. He would enter into Jerusalem to overcome death for the whole world. People would mourn over Jesus hanging on the cross. He would give his life for the sins of the world. His body would be the one placed in a tomb. However, death would not be able to keep its hold upon Jesus. Jesus would rise. Jesus would step out of the tomb, so that death would be destroyed.

Since Jesus would do all of this, he can give Martha the comfort that he indeed is the resurrection and the life. Since the Christian will live on for all eternity, Jesus can rightly say that we will live and never perish. Jesus gave this comfort to Martha at the death of her brother Lazarus.

The very same comfort comes to us still today. There are two certainties in life, death and taxes. This year taxes are delayed by three months, but they are still certain. When death comes, we will not be able to delay it. Our times remain in God’s hands for when he will call us home.

As the tears of sadness overtake the survivors who remain in this world, we confess the very same confidence in God’s promise of the resurrection. He is the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in him will live even though he dies.

We also encourage each other with these words at a funeral. Just as Jesus comforts Martha with pointing her to the fact that the believers will always live, we comfort others with the very same confidence. We will live because Jesus overcame death. We will triumph for Christ has swallowed up death in victory.

The Christian looks on death with a much different view than others. Our soul will live on. Our earthly body sleeps in rest until God will return on the Last Day. Death holds no fear. Death’s power is gone. Jesus has overcome all things, including death on our behalf. We confess our confidence in the resurrection on the Last Day.

Jesus was going to give the people gathered around the tomb on this day a little peek to the resurrection. At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus told them to roll the stone away. Martha objected. “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, because it has been four days” (John 11:39). The smell would be awful. Jesus responded, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God” (John 11:40)?

They rolled the stone away. Jesus yelled out, “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43)! Just as if Lazarus was asleep Jesus called out to him. The crowds’ eyes fixated on the tomb. They waited. Then Lazarus walked out. He still had the cloths covered his hands and feet. His face still wrapped with the grave cloths. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

Many people put their faith in God on this day. Jesus prayed that this would happen before he performed the miracle. He prepared Martha for it. He prayed to God that the crowd would see his great power as the promised Messiah. Jesus revealed his glory for many people to see on this very day by raising Lazarus from the dead.

We might never see God’s glory revealed in this way, unless we are alive when he returns again as Judge of the living and dead. This does not make it any less real. God’s glory will be seen on the Last Day. He will give a call and all the people will arise from their graves. The believers will arise to eternal life and the unbelievers to eternal destruction.

We will rise! This is our confidence. We are coming up on the great day when we celebrate this truth, Easter. Christ rose, so we too will rise. Our confidence is in our resurrection because this is exactly what God promises to us. We will go to live with him forever in the glories of heaven. This is our comfort now, in the time of death, and for all eternity.

Our confession in Christ gives great comfort in our life. No matter what comes our confidence lies directly in God’s power. His promises give us confidence to overcome all things in our life. Our confidence is in our resurrection. It stems from Christ’s resurrection. We will rise. Our faith in Christ confesses this wonderful truth! Amen.

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