All Saints Sunday – Sermon 92

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

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


What an incredible sight – it must have been – one minute the crowds were standing around the grave – Mary & Martha weeping at the loss of their brother – neighbours and friends – huddled around – to see what as going to happen next –

Next minute – Jesus arrived – moved by His friends in mourning – confident in His prayers – He transformed – the whole scene from one of sorrow and tears – to joy and celebration –

He raised His voice with a great cry – “ Lazarus – come out”

And when the dead man walked out – his hands and feet bound with linen bandages – and his face wrapped in a cloth

Jesus said – “Loose Him – let Him go’

Powerful words – powerful messages – spoken not just to Lazarus – but to the whole crowd – and to us here today – we’re going to look again at what Jesus said – to see what message He has for us – on this All Saints Sunday


Point 1    Jesus came to call the faithful -– 

Mary and Martha were desperate to see Jesus – their brother Lazarus – had already been dead four days in the tomb –

So when Mary was told – Jesus had arrived – she rushed out to meet Him –

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

They were the same words her sister used when she spoke with Jesus – earlier –

what she was really saying was: Lord why weren’t you there, you could have saved him, I prayed for you to save him, but you didn’t come –

How many times have we echoed those same thoughts when someone close to us has died –

The sisters’ faith had been severely tested

It was tested again when Jesus asked for the stone to be taken away –

“but what about the smell – surely its too late?”

For Jesus its never too late!

“Did I not tell you that if you have faith – you will see the glory of God”

Jesus has perfect confidence in His Father – nothing touched Him without His Father’s permission – we must have perfect confidence in the Son – through Jesus we too will feel God’s mighty hand of grace –

As Isaiah reminds us in his song of glory

God has come among us – to wipe away every tear from our eyes – to put an end to death – and mourning and pain – to destroy the veil that shrouds the whole world –

“On that day people will say – See this is our God – we have wait for Him – and He will deliver us – This is the Lord – for whom we have waited ”

Isaiah foresees a great celebration – the richest food- the finest wines – best meats – food fit for a King – with everyone invited

Today – God is calling us out of the our tomb – out of our darkness – into His Son-light – to feast on His presence – to be filled with the basic food of Christianity – and to put our trust in the life – death and resurrection – of Jesus Christ –

Point 2   


“Loose him, Let him go!”

Freedom is something we all want – freedom from pain – freedom from debt – freedom from – the things that hold us back – that prevent us from being the people God wants us to be –

We are all bound up – in our fears – our prejudices – our pride – and like Lazarus we can’t free ourselves –

We need rescuing –

Jesus has come to set us free – He has broken sins power over us – through his life saving death – on the cross

Because – God has dealt with our sins – we can be forgiven – our guilt removed – and our relationship with Him can start afresh –

Through Jesus – we are saved – Without Jesus – we remain in the power of sin – and locked in our bindings forever –

Leonardo Da Vinci had seven years to paint his -most famous picture – the Last Supper – He had to find different people to act as models for each of the twelve apostles and for Jesus. – Hundreds came forward – and after much searching – he found a young man – nineteen years of age – to be the model for the face of Christ. It took him 6 months to complete –

Over the next 6 years – he continued with his labours – and one by one chose fitting people to represent –each of the eleven apostles – except for Judas Iscariot – who he left till last –

For weeks he searched for a man with a hard callus scared face – to represent Judas – eventually he heard of someone in a dungeon in Rome – sentenced to death – for a life of crime and murder

He went to Rome – and saw the man – and decided – this was the face he wanted –

The king gave special permission for the prisoner to be used – and the man was taken – under guard – each day – to his studio – He worked on Judas’ face for 6 months –

As Leonardo finished his last stroke – the man broke free – and rushed towards the painter in tears – “Oh Da Vinci – look at me – do you know who I am?” – The painter carefully scrutinized his face and said – “No – I have never seen you before!” – the man cried out loud – “O my God have I fallen so low – look at me again”

It was the same man – he painted just seven years earlier – as the figure of Christ –
Sin binds us – sin changes us – only Jesus can change us back again!

Jesus’ rescue act offers us a new beginning – it also offers us eternal life


Point 3     Jesus came to bring us eternal life


“I am the resurrection and the life, whoever has faith in me shall live, even though He dies – and no one who has faith in me and lives – shall ever die”

Jesus called Lazarus out of his tomb to demonstrate that He has the power over life – and death – that His kingdom is not of this world – but of the next –

Jesus came from God – so He knows the way back to Him –

If you travel a lot like I do – you’d never go anywhere without your passport – you can’t get into another country without it – even in the EU

If you’re a citizen of the country – you get to go through a special channel – that enables you to get through quicker –

In some countries – like Russia – your name has to be on a list – and correctly spelt – before they’ll let you in –

For our journey to heaven – Jesus is our passport – and He will make sure we are on the list –

For Christians – heaven is not only our destination – its also our motivation – we are not citizens of earth trying to get to heaven – but – like Jesus – citizens of heaven – making our way through this earth –

Jesus tells us – that – heaven is not far away – its only within speaking distance – to those who belong there

We don’ t know how we’ll – get there – or what form life will take – but we do know who will be there when we arrive –

Genesis tells us that in the beginning – God said things were good – and Revelation – that at the end of things – it will be good –

Our problem is that we expect – uninterrupted good times – in between –

We are living a story that was started by God – and in the end – will be finished by God

So we know that as long as we make our relationship with Jesus – our No. 1 motivation – our No.1 destination – we will arrive there in the end –



In 1492 Christopher Columbus set off westward on a journey – that would take him round the world to India – His crew were terrified – they were convinced that since the earth was flat – they would fall off the edge to their deaths –

The destination may have been different to what was intended – but the voyage proved – without a shadow of doubt – that the earth was round. And – once done – many followed – on that same journey – and a thriving trade route was established –

As is so often in life – its takes someone to show the way – someone to convince the doubters what can be done –

God is calling us to come out – and show the way for others – show what can be done in His name –

All Saints day celebrates those who have gone before us in faith – whose Christian discipleship has inspired generations –

It’s not about holier than thou people – but ordinary folk – whose lives serve extraordinary examples –

What Jesus did for Lazarus – He is trying to do for each one of us now –

On this All Saints Sunday – we are being offered a new beginning – a new hope – a new way to live – following in the footsteps of the greatest Saint of them all –

And – if we’re prepared to do that – that really would be something incredible –  

Prayer to finish