Comfort For Sidney Montana During The Loss Of Sherry Arnold (Part 2)

Today tragic new was released by officials on the death of Sherry Arnold who went missing last Saturday. While the details of her death and the identity of the suspects were not released, the shock, pain and weight of her death rippled throughout the city of Sidney.

This is the news that many did not hope for and others, like me, have been resistant to hearing. In a way, the news of death brings that extra amount of pain to already lingering emotions of doubt, anxiety, fear and the like.

In my previous posting (Click Here) we talked about how the afflictions of life bring about all sorts of questions. We also explored Psalm 119 where the why question, the source of the affliction, was not really answered in the way we would hope for.  Rather than asking why, the text in Psalm 119 encouraged us to ask, "Where to now?" As I shared in my previous post, this did not mean that we needed to give up hope nor abandon the search for Sherry. Rather, what Psalm 119 showed us was that the Psalmist was driven by his afflictions, sorrow, pain and doubt to the Scriptures. Every time the Psalmist was afflicted it drove him to the Word, where God would speak.

Today, the degree of affliction has increased. We are faced with the issue of death. What does God say about death? When confronted with death we can't help but think about our own mortality and limitations. Death is unsettling anytime we come into contact with it. It stings. So how does God respond?

When we look at John 11:1-6, 32-44, 25-26 we see the story of a man named Lazarus. In this story, Lazarus died. He was also loved by Jesus. This love of Jesus for Lazarus wasn't simply a glittery kind of love found in perfumed love cards. This love of Jesus for Lazarus was a love that drove Jesus to tears. In John 11:33 we see that Jesus wept. Jesus stood there and wept, He had sorrow, He shed tears in a silent manner.  But why the tears. Jesus expressed his tears and sorrow because He had witnessed the effects of the wretched and deadly grip of sin on mankind. He wept over death, He wept over the death of Lazarus that was a result of this world that is in bondage to sin and death.

Today, my friends, Jesus weeps with you.  Our savior weeps over the death and suffering in our lives.  Jesus wept over death because it is not the way things are supposed to be.

God created us originally in harmony, in peace, but sin entered the picture and marred our relationship with God, it turned the world upside down and made things simply wrong.  Christ weeps because of the pain of sin in our lives and He weeps with us when we experience the sorrow from this broken world of death that we live in with all of its chaos.  What a God that we have that will weep with His children.  He weeps with us because He loves us.  His tears are because He loves you. 

Not only does the scriptures say that Jesus wept over death, it also says that He was "deeply moved".  As Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus, He not only wept but He "snorted at death."  In a literal sense he was "ticked off" with death.  He snorted at death, He was disgusted at death, He sighed at death, He mumbled in anger towards death, He expressed hatred and anger towards the tomb of Lazarus.

Today, my friends, Jesus angers with you.  Again what comfort for us that when we are angry at death, when we are frustrated and upset at death, we can know that we have a Savior who understands.  When we anger and shake our fist at death and scream out in pain we have a Savior who angered at death too.  When we punch at death we have a Savior that identifies with us  When we yell at death we have a Savior that identifies with us.  When we grit our teeth at death we have a Savior that identifies with us. What I find so amazing is that Jesus, God in the Flesh, could be angry at death without being angry at Himself.

In our text we see that Jesus not only pulled inward with tears but He also expressed His frustration with death outwardly; He wasn’t restricted to just one end of the emotion spectrum, rather He expressed them simultaneously.

I think it is safe to say that our responses to death and dying, that being tears and anger are natural responses.  The one thing though is that they are merely responses, they are our emotions, feelings and pain due to death.  Beyond these emotions there is painfully not much else we can do with our responses to death and suffering.  While it may be of comfort to know that we have a God who identifies with us, who understands our emotions and pain that still doesn’t address the problem of death itself.  Jesus cares but there has to be more! What does God say about death? When death calls, does God have an answer... does God act?  If Jesus weeps with us and angers with us over death we can confess that He does care, but is he powerless? What is Jesus’ response to death itself?

What is so amazing is that Jesus Christ wept and angered at death, but He was not limited like us to mere emotions. Rather He wept and angered at death, He wept and angered at sin to the point of the cross.  Jesus angered and wept at sin and death to the point where He did something about it.  God’s anger and tears over death and sin moved Him right into the center of sin and death, The Cross.  Jesus weeps over death to the point of the CROSS.  Jesus angers over death to the point of the CROSS  In other words, God so loved this world that He gave His one and unique Son.  Jesus came not to be served but to ‘give’ His life as a ransom for many.  Throughout the Gospels we see that Jesus' journey was always towards the cross. He was born 2000 years ago in the Bethlehem. Born to die. The mission of Jesus was the cross.
Look to the cross what do you see? We see not just a victim but we see God in the flesh paying for your sins and replacing your sin with his righteousness.  Look to the cross what do you see? We see not a dead savior but we see and empty cross with shed blood that confesses that our Savior is not restricted to death and a payment was made.  Look to the empty tomb what do you see? Jesus certified his work on the cross by rising from the dead. His resurrection assures us that His work on the cross really did take away our sin and that Jesus was really victorious over death and the devil.

In verses 25-26 we read, “I am ‘the’ resurrection and ‘the’ life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die… Do you believe this.”  In other words, Jesus is life and the resurrection. In Christ, you will never, ever, die.

My friends, there is nothing in this life that can go back and keep Jesus from making a payment on the cross. There is nothing in this life that can go back and keep Christ in the grave.  In Jesus Christ you have life.  In Jesus Christ you have eternity.  In Jesus Christ you have hope. Believe upon Christ my friends.

Just as Christ simply called Lazarus by name, and the grave was completely powerless in holding Lazarus back from the call of His Lord and Savior,  in Christ the grave is not the final word.

“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: 'I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!'" (Martin Luther)

Grace and Peace to you my friends.  

Note: This is the sermon for Sidney Lutheran Brethren Church's upcoming worship service on January 22nd.  You are welcome at the Light on the Hill.

Picture Source: Passion of the Christ Photo taken from ~


terriergal said…
Thank you for such beautiful comforting words. I pray the community out there will be drawn together through this sorrowful time and that the faith of many will be strengthened as they look to the Lord of Life who alone can make all things new.