April 12, 2022

The Best of the Portals of Prayer

Read: John 11:38-44

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
1st Corinthians 15:26

Why Lazarus Could Laugh

Dr. C.F.W. Walther, pioneer Lutheran leader in the middle of the 1800’s, once began an Easter sermon with the startling claim: “today I shall preach a funeral sermon for death.” A dead tyrant cannot destroy or terrorize. “Death is swallowed up in victory … through our Lord Jesus Christ” [1st Corinthians 15:54-57].
In his play “Lazarus Laughed”, Eugene O’Neill pictures this faith in victory over death. A few days before his own death and resurrection, Jesus called Lazarus from his four days of rest in the grave. In the play, the brother of Mary and Martha confronts the cruel and crazy Caligula, who is to be successor to Tiberius Caesar, emperor of Rome. He threatens Lazarus with execution. But Lazarus looks into his face, laughs softly “like a man in love with God”, and answers, “death is dead, Caligula!”
Lazarus has experienced the death-destroying power of the Prince of Life. He could laugh at death because Jesus had conquered it and removed its sting. Death might as well be dead as far as the believer is concerned; it has no power to destroy us. We who belong to Christ can join the 17th century man of faith, John Donne, as we face “the last enemy” and say … “death be not proud … death, thou shalt not die.”

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

April 12, 1961

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