John 11:25-26 - Jesus said to her [Martha], "I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour message, a rebroadcast of a classic sermon by Dr. Oswald Hoffmann.
It is amazing how intelligent people refuse to face the worst life has to offer. They prefer to put it out of their minds; they won't even talk about it.
A businessman told a young friend of mine in the ministry that he would just as soon not hear anything more about death in this new pastor's sermons. "It doesn't move people in our time," said the executive. "Personally, it doesn't stir me!"
Eight months later, the same businessman sat in mute agony in his home, having just returned from the funeral of his wife, who had succumbed to an incurable disease. The woman's husband had fought back with all his resources, to no avail. Death did not retreat. Expert doctors were flown in from all over, but nothing seemed to help. Finally, one late night, death walked into the somber hospital room where his wife lay and made off with the life of his bride.
With good reason, the Bible calls death man's "last enemy." Is there no answer to death except to pretend that it does not exist? Is there no way to meet death except to fight it with medicine? Is there no force to overcome death when it raps on the house next door or on the door of your own home?
When his wife died, Sir Walter Scott said, "A kind of cloud of stupidity hangs about me, as if all were unreal that men seem to be doing and talking." Death is the moment of truth, putting everything into its proper place. What seemed important before, suddenly becomes unimportant and inconsequential. What seemed to be of no concern previously, suddenly looms up as the real thing, the major thing it was all the time.
Think of yourself right now. What are you planning to do this afternoon, this evening, or tomorrow? Play some golf? Watch a ballgame? Take a ride in the country? What if, within the next hour, that sharp pain within your chest was the beginning of a serious heart attack? What if the next phone call you received was news that a loved one had been taken in a car accident? What would be important then?
Are you ready to face the worst, as one day you must? What does it take to bring you eyeball to eyeball with death—and your need for Christ—who has conquered the grave? Do you have to meet Christ for the first time in some tragic life event that puts someone in the hospital or worse yet—takes a loved one from you?
I hope not.
Speaking the words of the text we just heard to Martha, Christ added emphatically, "Do you believe this?" And now I ask you, can you believe this? Do you believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life—the Conqueror of death who triumphs over the darksome finality of death? Do you believe that He is the Life—able to unfold for you God's eternal promise which is life indeed?
That is my prayer.
WE PRAY: Heavenly Father, give us all the gift of faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Amen.
From "Facing the Worst," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. Does death seem a natural part of life's processes or something to be feared?
2. By believing in Jesus, one will never die. How is this so? What does Jesus mean when He talks about believing in Him and having eternal life?
3. What kinds of things have you done to prepare for your own death?
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