Posts Tagged ‘The Office [TV]’

Sermon 03-25-18: “Jesus Is the Resurrection and the Life”

March 26, 2018

The “chief end of man”—which is to say the reason we human beings exist—is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. So says the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and that’s exactly right. It takes a certain kind of God-centeredness, as I say in this sermon on the raising of Lazarus, to appreciate the fact that Jesus was willing to disappoint Martha and Mary in such a profound way. What can we learn about our own “disappointments” with God? That’s what the first part of this sermon is about. But the second part of the sermon is more important: what does the raising of Lazarus have to do with the cross, the Atonement, and God’s love?

Sermon Text: John 11:17-44

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My family and I are big fans of the TV sitcom The Office. We have watched the series many times. If you’re like me, you may remember the episode in which Dwight Schrute’s grandmother died. There was a funeral. And to say the least, Dwight’s very traditional Pennsylvania Dutch family, had some unique funeral customs. Dwight described one of them as follows:

We Schrutes don’t need some Harvard doctor to tell us who’s alive and who’s dead. But there was an unlucky streak of burying some heavy sleepers. And when grave robbers discovered some scratch marks on the inside of some of the coffins, we decided to make sure our dead are completely dead—out of kindness.

And so, after the coffin is lowered into the ground, they fire a shotgun three times into the coffin.

Dwight Schrute on The Office

You may laugh, but before modern funeral practices like embalming were introduced, around the turn of the 20th century, the fear that you might get buried alive was very real. Some people had strings inside coffins attached to bells on the outside. So they could ring the bell if they woke up. Some wealthy people put telephones inside of mausoleums just in case.

I mention this because we’re told in verse 17 that Lazarus had “already been in the tomb four days.” According to a Jewish superstition, which is not found in the Bible, the soul of a person hung around the grave for three days—waiting to see if the body would come back to life. After three days, the soul departed once and for all. The point is that by the fourth day, people believed that there was no hope that anyone could ever come back to life. And this was likely true for Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. By all means, they believed that Jesus could have saved their brother if Jesus had gotten there before Lazarus died; maybe Jesus could have performed a miracle and saved him if he had gotten there within hours of his death. In fact, other accounts of Jesus raising dead people to life in the gospels take place sooner after death. But now that it’s been four days… well, we can hardly blame these sisters for thinking that all hope was lost—no matter how much they believed in Jesus. Read the rest of this entry »