You are invited to worship with us! Click the link below to watch Rev. Howard Germany give a sermon on Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020. We hope his message will be meaningful to you. God Bless!
You are invited to worship with us! On March 29, 2020, Rev. Howard Germany shared a sermon titled “Bringing Life to the Dead.” Please read his sermon below. We hope his message will be meaningful to you.
The story of Lazarus is a familiar story. Most of us have heard it many times. The story has a great ending, because we see Jesus bring life to a dead man named Lazarus. At the same time the story raises many questions and some of those will continue to go unanswered today, because there is not enough time to get to them all. Likely I do not even know some of the questions you may be asking from this passage.
The most important thing we learn from this story is that Jesus is able to bring life to a person who has died. When Jesus explained to Mary and Martha that he had come to awaken Lazarus from the dead, they said that they knew and believed that at the Resurrection, Lazarus would live again. Jesus said, yes that is true, but I am going I am the resurrection and the life. The person who believes in me, though they are dead, they shall live. He says I have come to show you that I have power over even death. Jesus speaks and calls Lazarus from the tomb, and this man who has been dead for 4 days walks out in his grave clothes. Four days is significant because it was the belief of the folk in Jesus’ day that the spirit hovered around the body for 3 days, but after that there was no hope of the spirit and body being reunited. Therefore, all hope in Lazarus being ok was gone. But Jesus showed up and he spoke and Lazarus was alive once more.
Why didn’t the faith of Mary and Martha make a difference? When they realized that their brother was getting weaker and it seemed death was near, they decided that the needed to send someone to where Jesus was and tell him the news, because they knew he would be interested, but also because they believed that he could bring about his healing. They had seen Jesus heal others. They had seen Jesus heal many who were total strangers, they must have believed if Jesus could and would heal those individuals, he would heal his friend and their brother. Upon the arrival of the messenger and the sharing of the news, Jesus did not do what he did so often. Usually, Jesus would stop what he was doing and go immediately to the side of the person who needed him. On this occasion, Jesus decides to wait for two days to begin his journey to Lazarus and then it took him two more days to get there. Mary and Martha had the faith that Jesus could heal their brother, but they also believed he would come when called. Jesus did not come and because he did not come, Lazarus died. When Jesus did arrive both of them said to him, “If only you had been here, our brother Lazarus would not have died.” What they were saying is we believed that you could do for Lazarus what you did for others. They were confessing their faith in Jesus’ healing powers. At the same time, they were also saying, but you did not come when we needed you. They had faith that Jesus would come and that he would keep their brother from dying. In the end, their faith did make a difference. Jesus did come and while he did not keep Lazarus from dying, he did bring life back to the dead.
Why did Jesus wait two days? While we do not know the answer to that question, in full, we do know Jesus’ answer. “I waited to come so that God’s glory might be seen.” Then the question comes, what did Jesus mean by that? This is where the trouble comes. We have to interpret that for ourselves. By returning to Judea, Jesus was going to risk his own life. The disciples did not want him to go, because they recognized that powerful people in Judea wanted to kill him. Jesus uses those words or similar words about the glory of God being revealed throughout the Gospel of John. Jesus realizes that God’s glory is going to be ultimately revealed when he willingly lays down his life, so that his followers may have life. Jesus also had to be absolutely certain that what he was going to do was within the will of His Father and not just something he wanted because of his affection for Lazarus, Mary and Martha. He had
to be assured his going was within his Father’s will, knowing that going to Judea could cost him his life. We should learn from that. If Jesus needed to take time to be sure he was within the Father’s will, there are times when we too should take some time and seek to be sure that what we think is within the will of our Father is truly his will for us.
When Jesus arrived, he was told that Lazarus had already been dead for four days. He asked where he was and they took him to the tomb. Jesus asked that the stone be rolled away. Put that in contrast to the women who went to his tomb, the stone had already been rolled away. Here they need to roll the stone away so that Jesus can speak into the tomb and call for Lazarus to come out. When Jesus speaks and calls his friend by name, he comes out with the grave clothes still covering his body. Again, contrast that to Jesus’ tomb and the scripture tells us that the grave clothes were neatly folded where Jesus had been laying.
There was celebration for this one who had been dead was now alive. The time of mourning was over and it was time to celebrate.
So what is another difference between Lazarus and Jesus. Lazarus was brought back from the dead, but he would die again one day. The same is true of all who have died and come back or who have had near death experiences. Jesus on the other hand was resurrected. He died and came back to life. But He will never die again. He lives on eternally at the right hand of the Father, until the Father says son it is time to go get my children and bring them all to me. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. All who believe in Him will never die. That is our hope and that is our promise.
In this day that we find ourselves living in hopefully we realize that Jesus will come when we call on Him. He will come on His terms, not ours. We do not have the right to tell Jesus what to do. We make requests of him and ask him to act according to what is best or within His will. But we cannot tell Jesus or God what to do. We will not always understand God’s timing. Mary and Martha did not understand why he did not come when called. They did not understand why Jesus did not heal their brother from a far. It was only in looking back that they were able to see Jesus’ plan. Many times the same may be true for us. We do not see things clearly now, but we will one day.
You are invited to worship with us! On March 22, 2020, Rev. Howard Germany shared a sermon titled “Healing Blindness.” Please read his sermon below. We hope his message will be meaningful to you.
The issue of sickness and pain has long been a problem for the human race. Why do people get sick? What causes illness? Why does God allow such things or why does he cause such things to happen? The problem of evil in our world is real and I cannot do justice to that whole discussion in 20-25 minutes. There are those who want to know why God would allow something like Covid – 19 to spread across the world.
There are some things we can learn from this passage of scripture. The disciples asked Jesus about this idea of sickness. They saw this man who was blind and they asked Jesus about him. They wanted to know what had caused his blindness. Was it his sin or the sin of his parents? Jesus said neither. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day taught that divine will was a determining factor in a man’s fate, but this was also according to the person’s relationship with God. Rabbinical teaching was based on the warning that sins of the parents bore heavily upon their descendants. (IB pg. 615-6 vol. 8)
Jesus answers that question by saying it is not the sin of this man or his parents. The reason he gives is that his blindness was so that the works of God might be shown. Then Jesus says, we must work the works of him who sent me.
Jesus gives us a new teaching, and this teaching fits within the New Covenant that Jesus is writing. The old covenant taught that sin of parents or of the individual caused illness. Jesus says that is not the case. Neither sin of parent or the individual caused this blindness, but God was going to use this blindness to show his might. Then Jesus tells the disciples that he and they (“we”) must do the works of him who sent me. In other words, Jesus says that when we see someone who needs our help because of illness or otherwise, we are to be moved to action, so that the work of the Father will be done. We are not to assign blame, but we are to see what we can do with God’s help to make a difference.
Jesus is redefining illness. Rather than asking the question why, we need to be asking the question, what can I do for this person who has an illness? Jesus made the decision that he could heal him. He could have just spoken and healing would have come, he had done that on other occasions. Here, Jesus decides that the man who had been born blind needed to take some action himself. Jesus spat on the ground, made some clay, put it on the man’s eyelids and then said to him, so wash in the pool at Siloam. The man did as Jesus told him and he came back to Jesus and was able to see. Jesus did what he could do for the man. He had compassion on him and he healed him of his blindness.
When confronted by those who wanted to know who had healed him, he replied, the man called Jesus. He made clay, anointed my eyes and told me to go wash in the pool of Siloam. He gave all the credit to Jesus. He said I went and washed and now I can see. He was then taken to the Pharisees who asked him the same questions and he gave them the same responses. The Pharisees were indignant. This healing had been done on the Sabbath. No one who would break the Sabbath could have the ability to do this kind of miracle. So, they asked him again. This time his response was He is a prophet.
Now, the people did not believe that Jesus was capable of this kind of miracle, so they began saying that this is not the same man who had been blind. They called for the parents of the blind man and they said he is of age, ask him what happened. We were not there. So they asked him a different way, did this sinner heal you and his reply was, whether he is a sinner, I do not know. The only thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see. They asked him again how he was healed and his response was, I’ve already told you. Do you want to know so that you can become one of his disciples? They responded we are disciples of Moses, you belong to him. They said we do not know where this Jesus has come from. He said what a marvel, you do not know where he comes from but he can make the blind where they can see. They responded you were born in sin and you would try to teach us?
This takes us back the original question. Where does sickness come from? The OT taught that it came from the sin of parents or the person. Jesus says, not so. Sickness is a part of life, but it provides opportunities for the work of God to be done. In this time of crisis, we need to look for ways to act on behalf of God. We need to bring peace and calm in the midst of uncertainly. While others are fretting over the market, we need to remind ourselves and others that we find our hope for the future not in the market but in God. He is the one we are to trust. As we deal with this virus and do not know when the social distancing must end, we need to find new ways to connect. We need to check on our family, our friends, our neighbors and even the strangers among us. This is how the work of the Kingdom gets done. This is how healing comes to our community and our world.