The life of the Christian involves both of these things — truth and tears. Jesus comes to us with truth — sometimes hard truths. Other times, Jesus come and sheds tears with us because He understands how much death has done to corrupt our world. (John 11:20-40)

Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller
Sermon 11823
6:30 PM on 1/19/2020

P. Schaller –

I was thinking of that verse, a fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. How many know that verse? Have
you had any fervent prayer? And when you have it, what does it look like? Maybe we know it
when it happens. We’re serious about one thing like a dog latching on and not letting go. I saw
a YouTube video of a dog hanging from a tree by its mouth. It was a pit bull. It was locked in and
hanging there.

Prayers can be soft and moving around and gentle and nice. Then there is a
prayer where you are serious and you mean it, and you mean it. You kind of lose your – you’re
not so conscious of your environment or details or what is in the refrigerator or what someone
said. You are laser locked in and serious about it. Who are you asking? God. God. Talking to
God.

He wants us to be serious sometimes. Sometimes it’s praise and we are singing and it’s
light. Then there is that thing where you go right into the thing and saying this is the way it is.
I’m asking and believing, and you are my God and I have no other. You and I are doing business
together and God is answering. The fervent prayer of what kind of man? Righteous man. You
are a righteous man and a righteous woman.

That’s the way it is. We are praying. Yesterday afternoon, Bible college guys came over my house and Fed hill guys. We had a sauna together and sat in my living room with open fireplace and our Bibles. We spent some hours reading the Bible quietly and commenting and fellowshipping! It was so good. You and I are called by God
to fellowship in the word and worship Christ. We had a unique message this morning. People
from Montreal who came down and went to the cruise ship and went on their cruise.

Apparently you didn’t go on that! P. Steve bid them farewell with a good word. He said there is
no story in the Bible where anyone was on a boat and died! They were greatly encouraged, and
they left. To recap the message and move on to part two is the story of Martha and Mary in Jn.
11. A seed thought of the message is coming from Timothy Keller and his book “Encounters
with Jesus.” I think it has so much good insight in it.

He said, – this is my part from Job 9:33 that Job was suffering as a person like so many people are suffering. In his pain and confusion, he said I wish there was a mediator between me, and Job was over here as a human being in his pain and suffering and weakness. I wish there was someone who could put his hand on me and
other hand on God. You can imagine Jesus being the answer to his prayer. I am the one that
looks at God in the face and then at the same time, I can look at you in your face and I can say
to you, that you are accepted in the beloved.

I can say I know your name, your suffering, your weakness, your pain. This picture means a lot because there isn’t any religion in the world that has what we have. Either it’s so much over here and impossible to reach God and so hard and divine or the religion is so human it can’t change anything. It’s just human beings being religious
without authority or any real answers. A medicine man, a guru, a man only, a holy man, a man
that is separate but doesn’t have the hand to go to heaven except only Jesus does.

I read this paragraph. I want to read to you from a really well known man David Foster Wallace. He was a
writer, a reward winning bestselling post-modern novelist known around the world. A few years
before the end of his life, he was a guest speaker at Kenyon college. He said to the graduating
class – he’s not a religious man. He’s not a believer but this is what he said. I say this to talk
about humanity over here.

He said, “Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of God to worship is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, and if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you’ll
always feel ugly.

When time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before your loved ones finally plant you in the grave. Worship power and you will end up feeling weak and afraid and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect being seen as smart and you’ll end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they are
evil or sinful but is that they are unconscious.

They are default settings.” Now listen to this: “Wallace was by no means a religious person, but he understood that everyone worships, everyone trusts in something for their salvation. Everyone basis their lives on something that
requires faith. A couple of years after giving that speech, Wallace killed himself. This
nonreligious man’s parting words to us are pretty terrifying. Something will eat you alive.
Because even though you might never call it worship, you can be absolutely sure you are
worshiping, and you are seeking.

Jesus says unless you are worshiping me, unless I’m the center of your life, unless you are trying to get your spiritual thirst quenched through me and not through these other things; unless you see that the solution must come inside rather than just pass outside, then whatever you worship will abandon you in the end.” When I read that of
course I said amen to it. I started to feel I believe there are so many people that are human
beings and they don’t know what they are doing, what they are worshiping and where it takes
them.

They don’t know the end game. They don’t know what they are missing. They don’t
understand it. Job said I wish I had a mediator. He is saying I wish I had God and he could come
all the way to me. I wish he would know my weakness; my temptation, trouble, my sin and he
could save me, and he does. In the message this morning, John 11, it goes like this. Two women
in the story and they are sisters.

One is Martha and she says if you had been here, my brother would not have died. She said that to Jesus. Jesus answers her more on this end of the spectrum, what God thinks about death. Jesus said I am the resurrection and the life. That was his answer to her pain. You lost your brother. I am the resurrection and the life. He that
believes in me shall not die. That’s the answer to her and his ministry to her. Then she had a
sister in the story. Her name was Mary.

I want to put her on the human end of things. She lost her brother like Noreen and Kevin Kennedy lost their brother, Bruce, the other night and it’s painful. I lost my brother. I lost my brother. Mary is sitting in the house. Sometimes in the story we are kind of like Martha. We can go out and meet Jesus and I can hear the doctrine and it
ministers to me. I believe in Jesus. Mary is representing you in a weaker state. She is sitting
there and she’s in some pain and weakness.

It’s important for us to know this. Like we read, people are worshiping beauty but as they get 40 and 50 years old, their beauty is disappearing. As they are collecting their money and they love their money and it’s not enough.
Or power and they feel paranoid and they don’t have enough power. Their life is ebbing away.
They are a human being that Jesus died for. They are a human being that Jesus Christ has a
ministry to.

He doesn’t just come to the strong believer, but he comes to the person that has
doubt and fear and weakness. She said when she met Jesus, if you had been here my brother had not died. There you have a very unique story when Jesus is here with her. He walks over to
where she meets him. She comes finally and they come here, and death gets in Jesus’ bones. He
has seen death of course.

But now he sees it this way. In the story, it seems it’s like he’s in
shock about it. It contradicts him. Mary said if you had been here, my brother would not have
died. He didn’t say anything. He starts to weep. Maybe he saw more than a dead brother but
death and how much it contradicts him and us. He feels it. In the Spirit he can’t. It’s not time to
articulate or philosophize.

He identifies and he makes a statement by his body language and by
his words. I have that here somewhere. One of my papers to read these words when he says
that Jesus was deeply moved. John 11:33-34, rarely do we see Christ entering into that thing. We
see him hanging on a cross. We see him entering into that suffering. Now we see him entering
into this situation.

My understanding is he is a human being entering into it but at the same
time, he is God and digested it and angry. It says in vs. 35-38. We have a translation of the
Greek where he is furiously angry. He is very expressive in his anger about it. I read that piece
this morning from the commentary by Timothy Keller. He said this is such a weak translation.
Christ is very moved by the grave and he is saying, Mary, I’m against death.

Men die but I came here for this reason to take it away. I’m angry about it. God didn’t make us to die. He made us
to live. God didn’t make us to suffer and have pain. But we have plenty of it. We have someone
between God and man, and he shows us how much God cares. Let’s go into our lives and say
yes, there are some days when the ministry is this way, like a Bible verse and doctrine and
teaching. Sometimes I receive it and believe it, but I need someone to weep with me, care
about me, sit with me.

Sometimes as a pastor, that’s all we can do with each other to minister.
Maybe not say anything but only be present. Sit at the table and be quiet. To understand this is
horrible. This is painful. This is hard. Jesus cares about you, about this family. Timothy Keller
said everyone needs a ministry of truth and a ministry of tears at different times. Martha gets a
ministry of truth and Mary tears.

Sometimes I need the tears and sometimes I need the truth. I need both and in the Body of Christ it happens. There are people who will weep with you and people who will teach you. “Sometimes you need more of the bracing truth and you need to be shaken by the loving friend who says wake up and look around you. Other times, you really just
need someone to weep with you. Sometimes to lay truth on people when they are grieved, is
absolutely wrong. Other times just to weep with them and not tell them the truth is equally
wrong.” That’s a good point.

I want to weep with them, understand them, hold their hand but maybe they need something more. They need a cutting edge, a message, a word of exhortation, motivation, they need someone to kick them in the butt. Other times, we don’t need that. The ministry of the church is unique. I know you have seen it and understand it. I believe we could have a meeting and sit before God in quietness and Jesus would minister to us in quietness.
Other times, it’s loud music and laughter and release of some kind.

We rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep in Romans 12. He also says: “None of us have the temperament or insight to give people exactly what they need all the time. Some of us have
personalities that are prone to comfort even when sympathy is called for. Others of us are the
opposite. Jesus Christ is never strong when he should be tender or tender when he should be
strong. It isn’t just that he’s the perfect, wonderful counselor; he is the truth itself come in tears. He is Deity incarnate in the flesh.”

Why do I feel this is an important message? Because I feel we should understand our infirmities happen and they are part of life. I need God to love me and give me grace and hold my hand and care about it. I want to hear God say I am in charge. I am here. I will help you. To Martha he said, I am the resurrection and to Mary he just wept. He was angry about death and he said Lazarus, come forth. What do you think Mary
looked like when she heard those words? Lazarus come forth.

Mary is in tears and now God showed up. God came. When I was so terribly weak and in unbelief, God came. When I was a mess, when I was all upside down, God came. God came when I was bleeding and hurting and
troubled and confused. God came. Jesus came. Here is the problem with infirmity. It can lead
me to sin. But really infirmity can lead me to God. Infirmity can lead me to unbelief and pain
and more suffering and bad decisions but if I could understand it the right way like Job.

I wish there was someone who could put his hand on both of us and me and my trouble could realize
God in his glory is caring about me and visiting me and supplying me and helping me and
praying for me. He is my Advocate. I’m not his enemy. He’s not my enemy. He is my friend. That
is what I want. The purpose of the ministry is to help us understand that. That is our calling.
When people realize that God is with you in your bad times, now they realize you have
someone to worship that is bigger than you.

It’s not your money or beauty or intelligence Three big ones. No, I’m not putting my trust in any of these. I’m getting uglier every minute and poorer every day. I’m getting in trouble constantly. I don’t have my trust in these things in the
world. I have a living God who put his hand on God the Father and came to me in my life and
now I have someone to worship and he will always show up for me. The Lord is my helper, of
whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid.

One thing have I desired of the Lord that I will seek after. I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. I will
inquire. I will behold his glory and make inquiry in his house. I’ll read this book back and forth
and back and forth. I said to someone on the phone if I hadn’t met this ministry would I know
the book of Isaiah, would I know Ezekiel, the book of Proverbs, 1 Samuel and 1 Kings, the
Gospels and the book of Acts.

If I had not gone to church two times, three times, 15, 20 times a week I went to church. I didn’t lose anything except a lot of television and trips to the refrigerator. What a trade off. I lose that and gain the Bible. The Bible is the Word of God that comes from God to you and me and says, Lazarus, I am fed up with death. It’s not my will. I
don’t want to lose you Lazarus. Your sisters are here waiting for you, Martha and Mary. I came
into the world to make this family a blessed family.

When we gather around God we are gathering around the living, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He’s not the God of the dead. He is the God of the living. He is also the comforter, the advocate, the counselor, the way, truth, life, and
visits us in our darkness and cares about us. That’s it. It’s amazing. Amen. How many know
about violins? We just heard one. I think that was a violin. Stratovarius, when were they built,
and that family made the best.

There were a few hundred of them. I asked Ellu in Finland if she ever played one, who owns one of those. There is a foundation in Finland that owns one. The value is a couple million euros. She said I played it a little bit and it was so exciting to me I couldn’t sleep that night. What was exciting about it? The sound and her ear is trained, and she
can tell the sound. Like Mary I’m sure. They can tell that sound because it’s a unique instrument and this particular kind is special. I compare that to you and me.

When you grow in your faith, you get a feel of this whole thing. It grows in you. You can tell the sound. You can tell it works. Jesus is here. And he is ministering to me. Maybe it is not what I expected. Maybe I have no
idea how I got here but I can tell in my heart and spirit the ministry of God to my heart and I
trust in him. As you grow in the faith you get used to it. Ellu said I played it and that night I
couldn’t sleep. I was so excited about that thing. Isn’t that beautiful.

 

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