PRAYER OF COLLECT
16th Sunday after TRINITY
O LORD, we beseech thee, let thy continual pity cleanse and defend thy Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without thy succour, preserve it evermore by thy help and goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
See how the English Prayer Book directs all scripture for the day to relate to the same Gospel Truth, even the Collect!
1 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. 6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. 8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. 9 I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. 30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town but was in that place where Martha met him. 31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
Martha is perturbed at the Lord’s delay in coming to the side of Lazarus.
He loved Jesus. Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary.
Lazarus had suffered from a grave illness, yet Christ did not come immediately to his side. Lazarus finally died and, yet, Jesus again delayed in coming. For you or I to delay in rushing to the side of a friend or family member would be a serious discourtesy.
But for Christ, it was the proper thing to do in exact detail. WHY? Because you or I can only render comfort and compassion. But Christ has the power to undo the tragedy. Christ can heal that which is afflicted.
Christ can make alive again that which is dead. So His delay is beneficial for our faith. Our delay would be offensive because we can offer nothing but our immediate solace in being present.
2 Cor 5: 14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
All things are made new in Christ. The old Jerry Ogles must die to himself and be made alive for Christ.
Look at Martha’s doubts: 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
Look at this question…its depth…the challenge of it…the convicting power of the question itself….
The issues that depend upon the answer to this question of my text may be summed up, if I may venture to say so, by taking the words of our Lord Himself and converting them into their opposite. He said, ‘He that believeth… though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on Me shall never die.’ That implies, He that believeth not in Christ, though he were living, yet shall he die, and whosoever liveth and believeth not shall never live. These are the issues — the alternative issues — that depend on your answer to this question.
This is the crux and turning point of faith itself. Do we believe THIS?
“Jesus wept!” How sad this makes me to see Jesus so sorrowful. He did not weep when He was mercilessly beaten. He did not weep at the trial before Pilate. He did not weep on the cross of torture…but strangely here he weeps.
Christ does not weep for Lazarus for He knows that He certainly will restore his life to him.
So why does Christ weep?
For the same reason that we daily may cause Him to shed tears of disappointment. Martha knew that Jesus loved Lazarus. She knew that He was the Son of God. Yet she doubted that Christ could restore life to Lazarus. Martha doubted the very identity of the fullness of Christ.
When Jesus asked, “Where have ye laid him?” He was saddened to learn that they had laid him in the tomb. Why not lay Lazarus in the porch or some other convenient place for his rising from the dead?
When you bury a person, this means that you have no more hope of their living.
Martha sold her best friend, Jesus, short. And so do you and I daily.
By this time he stinketh……….certainly so, but no amount of decomposition can stay the power of God to raise the dead! Still unknowing of the great power and personage she called her friend.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
If you will listen to Me, and believe, you will learn that the Glory of God knows no stink! No corruption! No death!
Here is the greatest drama of all time.
A body lies in a stone-cold tomb. The eyes are closed in permanent (?) sleep. Death has locked the jaw and limbs. The heart is resting in silent stillness. The body is tightly wrapped in linen clothes so stout that even the living could not move about. The ears know no music, no sweet and loving voice. They are just as blocked in death as the stone that covers the tomb.
But Jesus will show is a cause to know Him.
14 Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid. 15 Woe unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the LORD, and their works are in the dark, and they say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us? 16 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?
The voice of the Lord penetrates time and distance. The voice of the Lord reaches to the very depths of the sea and hell. The voice of the Lord can penetrate pride and selfishness. The voice of the Lord can penetrate stone and earth. The Voice of the Lord can break through the dead and stinking tissues of our hearts and sink into the depths of it. The Voice of the Lord will make alive!
The Father always knows our thoughts and prayers whether uttered or not.
Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
Christ, being God, need not pray for miracles. He can perform them of His own power as God, but He sets the example for us.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
Would it not have been the most exceptional and glorious event you have ever observed…to have been there when Christ voice penetrated that stone and masonry, the cold, dead ears of flesh, and the hidden chambers of the heart of Lazarus? Christ Words found an echo in the heart of Lazarus and, immediately, the dead cells uncongealed, the ears were no longer deaf, the eyes no longer blind in death. The blood, reconstituted itself after the summons of its Creator, and Lazarus rose up from the stone slab and came forth from the Tomb.
There is something you need to know about death. It binds you hand and foot. It makes you blind. It stops your ears. And death is the life of the sinner. The sinner is walking dead.
1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Now, we have all been dead in times past in our sins. And some of us still are dead and do not know it. But when the voice of God breaks through the dawning of your new day, you shall arise and live!
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
John 8:31-32 If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Are you free? Or are you still slaves to self, to mammon, to the vain riches of this world? Let the Voice of Christ penetrate your dead ears, heart and soul. Let Him quicken your heart and make you alive forevermore!