Fifth Sunday of Lent – Sermon 240

8th January 2016 0 By Derek Buckthorpe

The Fifth Sunday of Lent

10 am Holy Communion CW

6th April 2014

Bible References :

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Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ

 

AMEN

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Life is wonderful – it’s a gift from God

We all want to hang on to it – as long as possible – and live life to the full

 

New life is even better – The arrival of a new baby or grandchild in a family is a time of great joy and celebration –

 

Jesus promises new life to everyone –

“I am the resurrection and the life – those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me, will never die”

Our readings this morning are about – renewal – our renewal –

 

In Ezekiel we have a promise – in our Gospel we have a practical demonstration – and through Paul we see what difference it makes –

 

First Point  Ezekiel

 

Ezekiel lived at one of the most difficult times in Judah’s history –he was a young priest – taken captive by the Babylonians in one of their raids on Jerusalem – and called by God to proclaim His message to the Israelites taken into exile –

 

He used pantomime and theatre to get his message across – everything from eating manuscripts – hanging upside down on ropes – shaving off his hair – and setting fire to it –

 

He was known for his mysterious visions – messages – that God wanted him to pass on to His people –

 

The most well known of these was our reading today – the valley of the dry bones –

 

“Mortal, can these bones live?”

 

The bones were the people of Israel –who were in a seemingly hopeless situation – after 10 years of captivity –

 

Oh no they can’t – said the Israelites –

 

Oh yes they can said – God –

 

And when the dry bones heard the word of the Lord – things started to happen – first a rattle – then a knitting together

 

But the words weren’t enough to bring them back to life – if things were going to change they would need a spiritual awakening

 

“prophesy to these bones…to cause breathe to enter them … . that they shall live”

 

This time the effect was devastating –

 

What preaching couldn’t achieve – prayer made a reality – the bones came to life – and became a mighty company –

 

Dry bones are probably – the worst congregation any preacher might have to face – but through Ezekiel’s vision God promises new life – a new beginning – that will come through His word – and His Spirit –

 

Point 2        Lazarus – Jesus gives life –

 

In our gospel reading – that promise becomes a reality through Jesus – Jesus gives us a practical demonstration of that impossible act – foreseen by Ezekiel – by bringing His friend Lazarus – back to life –

 

John’s Gospel is the only book to record this miracle – Lazarus had been dead for 4 days and his body had started to decay – his bones were well and truly  – lifeless –

 

Jesus – is told of Lazarus’ illness through a letter – He could have healed him at a distance – or left straight away – but he didn’t – because He knew that “through it God’s glory will be revealed”

 

When Jesus arrived He was greeted by a family in mourning – first by Martha and then by Mary –

 

“Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died,”

 

At Lazarus’ Tomb Jesus calls the people to ‘take away the stone’ – He looked up and spoke – so that the people might believe – it was God who sent Him

 

And when Lazarus came out of the tomb – he was still tightly wrapped in bandages and Jesus called those near to ‘unbind him – and let him go’

 

When God performs His miracle of life – He involves – His people – to play a part – Ezekiel spoke God’s word to the dry bones, and prayed for the help of the Spirit – Jesus called the mourners to move the stone from Lazarus’ tomb – and to free him from his bindings –

 

In bringing Lazarus back to life – Jesus is signaling His own resurrection and ours

 

Point 3

 

Dry bones – are a picture of the lost – everyone without Jesus is as dead as the bones in Ezekiel’s valley –

 

But as Paul reminds us – we are now under new management – the management of the Spirit – and we need to move our thoughts from mortal things – and death to Spiritual things –to receive life

 

When the Spirit is in us – the Son is in us – and the promises made by God are fulfilled –

 

Just as Jesus was raised from the dead – and brought back to life – so we too through Jesus will we be revitalized – and offered a new start –

 

Conclusion

 

Listen to these words from an unknown monk:

When I was young – I wanted to change the world – but found it too difficult – so I tried to change my nation – and when I couldn’t change that – I tried to change my town –  and when I couldn’t change that – my family – Now as an older man I realize that the only thing I can really change is myself – If I’d done that long ago – with  God’s help – I could have had an impact on my family – and my family and I could have had an impact on my town – and their impact could have changed a nation  – and I could have indeed – changed the world –

 

It’s time to make a fresh start today – to invite the Spirit into our lives – and see the difference He can make – to us and to those around us  – when words fail to convince us –there’s no argument against God’s Spirit –

 

Are we ready for God to breathe new life into our bones – today? – we’ve heard His word – now let’s pray for the coming of His Spirit

 

Closing prayer

 

Lord Jesus, for the victory you have won over sin and death, and the victories you continue to win in our lives, receive our praise.  Send, your Holy Spirit among us so that your love and peace can live in us – and bring us life –– AMEN