Artwork by Full of Eyes
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
᛭ INI ᛭
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Not this past Tuesday but a week ago Tuesday a wise man told me, “We don’t know the future.” And that Tuesday morning that wise man also told me, “It’s all in the Lord’s hands.” But what sort of hands are those?
“It’s a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” Hebrews tells us. That’s a pretty good way to describe how we all feel today. But that’s especially how you feel today, Deb and Melba; Michel and Jeni and Andrea and Jamie; Jerry and Gordon and Susan and Ruth, and all the rest of Dave’s family and friends.
Today’s a pretty dreadful day. All so sudden. All so helpless. Very much how Mary felt, too! “Lord, if You had been here my brother wouldn’t have died!” Such accusatory words from Mary! Jesus is God enough, Lord enough, Savior enough to take your grief and anger and sadness, to carry your sins and sorrows.
Wise Martha, though. “Lord, if you’d been here my brother wouldn’t have died, yet I know that whatever you ask God will give you.” It’s as if she’s saying, “Lord, it’s all in your hands.” So also the wise man: “It’s all in the Lord’s hands.” But what sort of hands are those? Faithful? Trustworthy?
It doesn’t seem like it. Seems all a bit strange from our perspective. We’d want more time, but the Lord’s time, the Lord’s future for us, isn’t what we’d want or expect. “When [Jesus] heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” (A lot can happen in two days.)
Why does He do this? Well, it seems a bit empty to say “it’s all in the Lord’s hands” in another more familiar way on days like today. “He’s gotta a plan.” So, what sort of plan does the Lord Jesus have? “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Jesus’ plan is to raise Lazarus from the dead. Sign and promise that He Himself would rise from the dead! All resurrections flow from Jesus’ own empty tomb, and this also means Jesus has to go to His own grave and tomb. He gets there through His cross.
And now we see what sort of hands the Lord has. “It’s all in the Lord’s hands”—faithful hands, trustworthy hands, nail-scarred hands! “Jesus is risen from the dead, never to die again, death no longer has dominion over Him.” And so, “let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Heb 10:23).
Jesus went to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead. “I AM the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.” That’s His plan not just for Lazarus, but for Dave. That’s His plan for each of you, too. That’s His plan for all “who live and believe in Him.” And faith in Jesus is “the beginning of wisdom.”
Right now we grieve. You grieve. You mourn. You cry and shed tears. (The Lord counts each one of them. He will wipe them all away forever on the Last Day.) But “we don’t grieve like those who don’t have hope.” We grieve like Jesus grieved. We weep like “Jesus wept.” He wept knowing He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. So also we weep believing that Jesus will raise Dave one day, too. He’ll raise you, too, to live forever with Him. That’s His promise to all who believe in Him.
A wise man recently told me, “It’s all in the Lord’s hands.” But what sort of hands are those? Jesus’ hands are nail-scarred hands. The Lord Jesus bore all your sins at Calvary, and He is now risen from the dead. “All authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to Him. “He holds the keys of death and hell.”
He will raise you. He will raise Dave. Even as He raised Lazarus. Even as He Himself is risen from the dead! That’s the promise and life Jesus gives in Holy Baptism. That’s Romans 6: “We were buried with Him by baptism into death… For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.”
It’s also the promise Jesus makes in the Supper of His body and blood. “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will resurrect him on the Last Day,” “for where there is forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation.” To those promises of Jesus’ Supper wise men say, “We don’t know the future. So, yes, I would like that.” (Heard that on that Tuesday, too.)
Jesus will keep the promise of His Supper. The Lord’s Supper delivers the same thing Jesus said in John 11. “For this illness isn’t for death, but so that the Son of Man may be glorified.” It’s all in His hands. Our salvation. His own death. His own resurrection. Our deaths. Our resurrections. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and after My skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall see and not another. How my heart yearns with in me!”
“When He does it, it’s done, finished. Calvary much. Empty tomb much. Body and blood much. When He saves you, you’re saved. When He finds you, you’re found. When He forgives you, you’re forgiven. When He feeds you, you’re fed. When He gives you life, you live.” Just like I preached to a wise man a couple Tuesdays ago, even as he preached to me: “It’s all in the Lord’s hands,” and he really is. You are, too.