Jesus Knows Martha, And No One Will Snatch Her

Text: John 10:27-29

Family and friends of Martha: grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

The verses for today's meditation come to us from the Epistle of 1 Corinthians, the fifteenth chapter (which we have already read), and the Gospel of St. John, the tenth chapter. We read in St. John's Gospel:  

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

Here ends our reading.  

There is always something bittersweet about the Death of a loved one. No matter how long their life has been or how much time you have had to prepare yourselves for this day, it is bittersweet.  

It is sweet because Martha is at peace with Jesus. When Martha was baptized into Jesus, Jesus snatched her from darkness, forgave her of her sins, and made a promise to her. This last week, Jesus fulfilled that promise when He sent His angels to gather her home. 

And yet, there is also the bitterness of Death. There is bitterness because never again in this world will you and I hear her voice, feel her touch, or look into her eyes. Bitterness and grief are most certainly present here in this sanctuary – how is it possible for those of you who loved Martha and were loved by Martha not to be saddened right now?  

Some well-meaning people, though, will try and convince you and me that Death is natural, that it is just a part of living. But they don't sound very persuasive, even to themselves: Death is natural? I don't think so. Death is not the way it was meant to be in the very beginning. Death is not some sort of welcomed friend. No, Death IS the problem. You see, we cannot help but feel that there is something terribly wrong about Death, even when it happens to someone at such an old age. In other words, whether the person who has died is full of years and prepared to go home to be with Christ or in the prime of their life, Death is never natural. That is why everything inside of us cries out that Death is wrong and not natural at all.  

In an entirely different context, Jesus spoke these words, 

What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.

Jesus was obviously speaking about marriage, but there is a broader meaning to His words. God puts people together in this life; He puts us into a relationship with one another. He joins us together.  

And then comes this hideous, awful Monster – Death – and it snatches a person away from us, and we feel frightened and empty and alone because we know the hunger of this Monster never fades. And one day, it will come to munch on us too.  

Into such a world, though, Jesus came. The reason why? The Father was determined once and for all to put an end to this Monster of Death. And so, Jesus came and lived among us – one with us. Jesus laughed, and He loved, He at and drank, He sang, and you know what else He did? Well, He got angry and cried.  

He got angry and cried outside of His friend Lazarus' tomb. He angered and wept because His friend was dead, and He felt the ache and the emptiness, and He hated what He felt with a passion. But get this; Jesus did so much more than simply hate the Monster of Death. He actually killed it by letting it kill Him. 

On Good Friday, Death opened wide its jaws to swallow Jesus up like a tasty morsel. And Jesus went into the stinking guts of that Monster that devours us all. But after three days, He exploded it from within.  That is right; Jesus filled Death itself with His love and His light and His life. Death got the biggest bellyache it ever experienced when it tried to swallow down on Jesus. And that Easter morning, the Monster of Death keeled over – not quite dead, but mortally wounded. A gaping hole appeared in its side through which Jesus Christ had come and through which He will lead His people home.  People like Martha.  

Hear this!  Jesus is the One who died, rose, and gave eternal life to you, me, and Martha, which is why we can say, 

O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?

Jesus also has spoken words of incredible comfort just a moment ago. Hear them again as you weep before the body of Martha. Listen to what Jesus says, 

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Jesus' sheep listen to His voice, and He knows them. He knows His Sheep. He really knows them for who they are. He knows Martha. He actually knows Martha better than you and I.  

Jesus knows Martha as one who was a sinner, who had her struggles, who had her doubts, who had her fears (like we all do). Jesus knows the real Martha – and the real Martha is the one that He died and rose for again. None other.  

The same is true for you and me. He knows us for who and what we really are – with all our rebellion, wandering, searching, and failures. Behind all the facades we put up that we think will make us look religious and which we hope might give us some protection on the Last Day – behind all of this, Jesus knows you and me. He knows the real you – and He loves you still the same. 

And so, to the point; Martha is a sheep. She is baptized into Jesus; she hears the voice of Jesus. She was one of Jesus' sheep who was known by Jesus. And she will never be snatched from Jesus, especially from the Monster of Death. 

Did you hear that? Jesus gives Martha eternal life and promises that she will never perish. Death's hold on your dear Martha is not as strong as Jesus’ hold on Martha.  Indeed, Jesus holds Martha by the hand, even in the darkness of Death. Jesus holds her by the hand with the nail prints still showing. It is a mighty hand. It is a living hand. It is a hand that is strong and brings life again to one that is dead. It is a hand that is stronger than Death. And so, nothing can snatch Martha from that strong grasp of the Good Shepherd – not even Death.  

Dear friends, Jesus is now holding Martha until the Last Day, when He will come back in great visible glory. On that day, Martha will be raised and walk right out of the Monster's side – hand in hand with her Savior.  

Today you cry. And it is good and right to do so. But you must not cry as those who have no hope. Christ is risen! Death has been mortally wounded! Christ is risen, and He holds Martha in His strong hand. He knows her and she is His sheep.

Christ is risen, and your sins have been forgiven. Heaven is open to you, and you have a Father waiting for you. Christ is risen for me, you and Martha– so that you can have joy in the midst of your tears. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.  

CLICK HERE to 'Like' on Facebook
CLICK HERE to 'Follow' on Twitter
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on iTunes
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on Podbean