Valley View Church

John 11:1-16 | When Love Feels Like Hate

June 07, 2023 Valley View Church
John 11:1-16 | When Love Feels Like Hate
Valley View Church
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Valley View Church
John 11:1-16 | When Love Feels Like Hate
Jun 07, 2023
Valley View Church

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Sunday Morning | June 4, 2023 | Pastor John C. Majors | Louisville, KY

In this sermon, Pastor John focuses on John 11:1-16, exploring the themes of death, God's will, and the disciples' response. He emphasizes that death is inevitable for everyone and that all must grapple with it. He highlights the historical reliability of the account of Lazarus' resurrection and addresses the question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Pastor John presents four brief responses to this challenging question: human freedom, the potential for growth through suffering, God's sovereignty and unseen purposes, and the idea that God can use sinful choices to bring glory to Himself. He highlights the importance of walking in the light of God's will and explains that the safest place to be is within the Father's will, even when the outcome is unclear. Pastor John appreciates Jesus' patient and kind nature in explaining His purpose to the disciples, who often appear confused. He highlights Thomas' loyalty and willingness to follow Jesus even if it means facing death. The sermon concludes with the reminder that death is inevitable, and the crucial question is how we will choose to live.

You can join us on Sunday mornings at 11 AM for worship. We are located at 8911 3rd Street Road, Louisville KY 40272.

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Sunday Morning | June 4, 2023 | Pastor John C. Majors | Louisville, KY

In this sermon, Pastor John focuses on John 11:1-16, exploring the themes of death, God's will, and the disciples' response. He emphasizes that death is inevitable for everyone and that all must grapple with it. He highlights the historical reliability of the account of Lazarus' resurrection and addresses the question of why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Pastor John presents four brief responses to this challenging question: human freedom, the potential for growth through suffering, God's sovereignty and unseen purposes, and the idea that God can use sinful choices to bring glory to Himself. He highlights the importance of walking in the light of God's will and explains that the safest place to be is within the Father's will, even when the outcome is unclear. Pastor John appreciates Jesus' patient and kind nature in explaining His purpose to the disciples, who often appear confused. He highlights Thomas' loyalty and willingness to follow Jesus even if it means facing death. The sermon concludes with the reminder that death is inevitable, and the crucial question is how we will choose to live.

You can join us on Sunday mornings at 11 AM for worship. We are located at 8911 3rd Street Road, Louisville KY 40272.

as well. Good morning, Valley View. It's great to be with you today. While we continue our study in the Book of John, we've been working through the Gospel of John now for many months, and we're into Chapter 11 today when I started as pastor here, a pastor friend of mine reached out and he said, Hey, let me just share a few things with you. One of the things he said was, I can't stand it when people ask me to do weddings. I'm like, okay, you're such a bundle of joy here. Why is that? What's the deal with weddings? He said, Well, let me tell you, I don't mind weddings, but what I love is funerals. It's okay. It's not getting any better. What's the deal? And as we talked and I kind of knew what he meant when he said that, but he referenced and I thought of Ecclesiastes seven two, it's better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting, for that is the end of all mankind. And the living will lay it to heart. We've all been in those moments where you have been at a funeral and a part of being there is your own self reflection. What is my end? What is my purpose? How is God going to use me or not? I see this person's life and these are the things I admire or don't. God, what are you going to do in my life? It's a powerful moment of reflection and we tend to try to avoid that, right? I don't like to think about my own death the end of time, but in those moments it's coming. None of us will escape it. And in those moments, we pause for just a moment and reflect at a place where we need to go. And in this morning's passage, we're going to look at how a number of people react to this reality of looming death. It's a well known story, the story of Lazarus and John, Chapter 11, and we could unpack it all in one big section today, but we're going to break it up because Chapter 11 is really a big transition in the book of John, Chapter 11 and Chapter 12, both. So we've gone through the first ten chapters, and you may have noticed at the end of Chapter ten last week, Jesus returns to where John the Baptist launched his public ministry, John the Baptist launching his own public ministry, but also Jesus's public ministry at the end of Chapter ten. And that book is the major part of Jesus's public ministry, because chapter one after the Prolog began that way. And so you have this public ministry of Jesus being launched by John the Baptist, but then it's closed back at the end with a reference to John the Baptist. And as we get into Chapter 11, we're going to see him moving out of the public eye. He's no longer debating openly in the temple and going out in in vast and open ministry. He's focusing in on his disciples. And so we get these chapters now and 11 and 12. It's very transitional. We're moving into a time, we're moving closer, and it's going to start to pick up speed towards his own death and resurrection and in fact, when I think of Chapter 11, I think of the times we've been hiking in Colorado. Our family used to spend every other summer in Colorado, where I taught a course that campus groups say did kind of an interim Bible study course for new staff at Campus Crusade. And the thing about hiking in Colorado is you start out on a hike in the mountains are so big and they jut up right in front of you, you go onto this hike and even if you know where you're going, there'll be a peak in front of you. And you're sure that's that's the highest peak we're going to hit today. But when you get to it, you see that was just the initial peak. There's another bigger peak on out of here that was being blocked by that one right in front of you in there's a whole range of huge mountains out ahead of that. And Chapter 11 is kind of like this penultimate peak. It's this raising of Lazarus that also raises the book and points towards the greater miracle to come later in the book. And so when we look at Chapter 11 today, we all are going to be pressed with this issue of how are we going to live in light of death, in light of a looming death in light of eternity. It's the same question there presented here. And so let's look at how some react to this reality. John, Chapter 11. It's on page 843 In the church Bibles, we have free copies of Bibles that are tied in to the page numbers on the screen that are out in the connection corner. Go out there and get one anytime if you need one. Those are free for you. We want you to have a copy of God's Word. We want you to be His word. Reading it. Grab one of the Bible reading plans we're going through as a church and just get into God's Word. Get to know him through his word. But let's look at the first four verses while we set up this passage. John Chapter 11 versus one through four. Now, a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary, and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sister sent to him saying, Lord, he whom you love is ill. But when Jesus heard it, he said, This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God so that the son of man me glory may be glorified through it. What shocked me when I started to study this passage, a very familiar passage, But what shocked me about it? I hadn't seen this as I read the commentary after commentary after commentary was the amount of time that each of these academics and I'm reading when I study, I'm mostly reading evangelical commentaries, people who believe that the Bible is God word, God's word, people who believe in the authority of Scripture or the inerrancy of Scripture believe in the Trinity. Surprisingly, there's lots of commentaries written that don't believe that the Bible is true. Mark, You waste your time writing the commentary about is what I want to know. But lots of people do. And I was shocked as I read these evangelical commentaries in this particular section. In this particular passage, they spent way more time than they had anywhere else that I have read so far, defending this passage, defending the historical trustworthiness of this passage. Why this passage in particular? Why would they spend so much time here at the beginning of Chapter 11? Well, if you are from a liberal theological background and you don't believe that Jesus was real and that he did miracles and that I can trust the Bible well of any place in scripture you want to undermine, it's going to be the Gospels, the places that talk about Jesus, the places that show his miracles, and of any place among the gospels that you want to undermine. It's going to be the book of John, as we saw last week, in previous weeks, where there were clear pointers to even the contemporaries around him, knowing he is saying that he is God and in human flesh, you're going to want to undermine the book of John because of that. And then if you're going to undermine anywhere in the Book of John, it's going to be Chapter 11 where he raises someone from the dead. Because if he can't do that, that's going to undermine everything else. But here we have right here in this section, right off the bat, Lazarus of Bethany, the village. These are real places, historical places, places they had dug up. You can go and see today, in fact, in just a few verses later, wills are in the next passage. Next week, we'll see where it says that this was two miles outside of Jerusalem. We're not trying to hide anything about this story, not trying to make up details. In fact, some of the archeology that's been done in that particular area, they've dug up what are called ossuaries, which are burial boxes. Throw a photo up on the screen. These aren't the exact ones, but they're similar to what these burial boxes would have been like. And the way these work, they're actually not very big. It doesn't mean the people were small. What they did was kind of like with Jesus's tomb. They lay them out in an open tomb until the body decayed, and then they put the bones in the boxes. That way you could fit more people in there that way. And so a whole family might have their own box. And archeologists have discovered this in particular burial site with ossuaries from this area with the names of Mary Martha Lazarus in that particular city. We don't know if that was actually them or not, because the thing is that those names were very common then. And so you have all this historical fact right in here in the front end of this passage, things that are going to be difficult to deny and just write off because we we don't like what it might imply. Now, what happens here is that when the sisters reach out to him, the way he reacts is interesting in this. First, it makes a sad comment about Mary being the one who anointed his feet, which we haven't encountered yet. In the book of John. He's pointing forward. It's going to come in a few chapters. John often assumes that you have read some of the other gospels now in the introductory sermon to the whole series, one of the early church fathers pointed out that John wrote this book. He wanted to write something different than what Matthew, Mark and Luke had done. He wanted to piece it together differently. That's why something like 90% of what's in the Book of John is unique to John. Even though Matthew, Mark and Luke share many other stories about Jesus. And so here we get a little pointing forward. You know, this is coming. This is who this is. You've heard about her. This all ties together. You can trust it all. And we also get through that just a subtle reminder of how much Mary loved Jesus, the love that was shared between them in fact, she said to him, We know that you love Lazarus. There is a deep, intimate love shared between us. And Jesus says in that moment, I'm not worried. This isn't a sickness unto death. Now, how does it continue? You look at verses five through seven. Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after he said this to the disciples, let us go to Judea again, these two verses verse five and six present What for many is a huge difficulty and for many is too difficult to overcome when they think about following God, knowing God, following a loving God. And what we have here is just this gigantic contrast. You see in verse five, it says very clearly, Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. In fact, this verse is such that in Greek that word loved is moved to the front of the verse so you don't have to do it in word order like we have to in English. They move words around and usually, if the words really important, they'll throw it on the front end to emphasize that some have translated like he really loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus. He loved them deeply. And so how does he show them his love here in this passage? Not how you would expect because he loved them. He stayed two days longer in the place where he was. That's a weird way to show your love, Jesus. Right? You. We would expect that because he loved them. He would respond to their request. He would come right away. He would come running. But he doesn't always do it. He doesn't always do that. In fact, that's difficult for many of us. Jesus doesn't just snap to attention when I demand it. He doesn't immediately do what I say he should. He doesn't always answer the prayers the way I think he should. That's difficult, especially given the nature of whatever situation you might be praying for. Even though he says he's loving, there are times where you feel like, are you really? Are you really here? But you're saying you're loving. I don't feel that way in this moment, but he doesn't just snap to attention because we demand it. I just finished reading a book by a lady, Kate Butler. She is a professor of divinity at Duke Divinity School, and she wrote a book that walked through her own struggle with cancer as a young mother with just a one or two year old at home. You know, life's just starting all her dreams and hopes, new career before her. And she's diagnosed with cancer and she's wrestling with this question as well. But the irony of the situation is she had just finished dissertation on the whole prosperity movement, which would say name it and claim it. No one should ever be sick. If you're sick, it's because your faith is weak. You should be rich as well. If you're poor, it's because your faith is weak. God wants you to have everything, to have perfect help, to never have any problems. That would be the prosperity gospel of great simplification of it. And so here she is in the midst of her own challenge, having just been saturated into that world. And she was shocked by how after person of friends she had made in that connection. In our world, we're bringing a lot of that same language to her. Where's your faith? Why are you not trusting God in this moment? What have you done wrong that has brought this sickness upon you over and over again? But God is not our puppet. We don't just demand what He does, and then he follows. In fact, he has his own sense of timing. One of the things that's interesting about this whole section, it reminds me of a couple of different stories we've already encountered when they asked about the blind man, was he blind? Was it because of his parents in a red own? And he says, no, it's just so that God will get the glory. I mean, that's what he says here. This illness does not lead to death. It's for God's glory. I've got a greater purpose in mind than what you can ever imagine or understand or comprehend. So there's that story in terms of what this point towards. But here in this particular section stayed two extra days. He loved Martha mary Lazarus, and yet he lingered. One of the challenges with this is that many will read something like this and they'll think, if God and you've probably heard this kind of objection to Christianity at times, if God is all knowing and all loving, why would he allow evil and sin to continue in the world If he's all knowing and all loving, He no one would dare allow things to happen that have happened. So either he must not be all knowing or he must not be loving. This is way a common objection you'll hear to this dynamic. And so I just want to take a second and give a couple of responses to this. And by the way, this isn't a light and easy section. Here I am giving more of maybe the theological responses. I'm not necessarily unpacking the full pastoral response. These aren't the responses you lay out someone right in the midst of a big challenge. In fact, we went to Julie and I went with some friends to a comedian last night. He's a Christian comedian, and he was down at the Kentucky Center for the Arts and he said, Why is it that it seems like God only we only say that God is in control when something bad happens is said. When you when someone says, hey, I got a new job, we say, hey, that's great. Hey, I lost my job. God is in control and it's only in the bad moments that we drop that I like. He wasn't game control with the with the good job, but we feel like we've got to remind people God in can control and he is and so let me just walk through but this isn't with these four arguments then I'm going to present these aren't the ones you drop on someone right in the midst of suffering, per se. These are for us to kind of address at a high level here. So let's look at these together for reasons why. And the technical term for this is called The Odyssey. What is God allow evil and suffering to continue in the world. It's called theodicy. The response to these Why the Odyssey comes from God and justice. God's righteousness. Why can we consider God righteous in the midst of allowing evil and suffering to continue in the world? These don't cover it all. They're just a few. But number one. First one consider is human freedom. Human freedom. That's one of our words for this year. Free and fearless. Everybody wants freedom. In fact, as Americans, we demand freedom as nothing more offensive than thinking someone might control me. Yeah, we demand freedom. But yet. But we want him to control the actions of others apart from their own desire. It's a really hard thing to bring up, but we really can't have it both ways. Yes, God, we want freedom. But no. But stop that now. Don't allow them to do that. But I want to be free though. But don't. Don't control my behavior. I want to be free. But stop them. If we have human freedom, some will abuse it. That's just the reality of that dynamic. And by the way, any one of these four arguments I'm making is it's not the trump card. It doesn't stand alone. These act together. And there are many more there are gigantic books written on this topic. I can't cover it all, but these are just a few. Number two, the reality is challenges, suffering difficulties can make us stronger as they can. They might not always, but just thinking about my own life, some of the most growth has occurred in my life through the hard things, even more so than the great things those have grown me as well. That's just one dynamic of why difficulties suffering have continued in the world. Number three, God is sovereign. Even when it doesn't feel that way. He is sovereign, He is in control. And the key part of that reality is he can see the bigger picture way better than we can. I've also been reading a book called Providence by John Piper, Gigantic book going through passage after passage after passage on the Providence and sovereignty of God. I've been reading it over a year now. Every couple of months I'll get on the phone with a friend of mine. We'll talk through some of the chapters. Recently, he went through the whole story of Joseph and one of the big takeaways there, Joseph says to his brothers, who were really worried that he might take it out on them after their dad died, which you meant for evil. God meant for good. All this horrendous stuff he went through being sold into slavery, being and accused of things he didn't do, seemingly one thing after another, going against him. He couldn't see the whole big picture. He couldn't see what God may be doing in the background. Again, none of these stand alone. There are plenty of things encountered you may not know in this lifetime what God was doing in the background. We don't always get all the answers, but He is his sovereign and he is in control, even when even when it doesn't feel like it. And then number four, and before I read number four, look at verse four, just as a reminder, Jesus heard it. He said, 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. Verse four. And number four, part of why He allows things to continue in the world is to bring glory to him. I've heard it said at times, people don't really care what you believe when life is going great, but when they watch you suffer, when they watch you respond to suffering, especially if you respond well, that's when they'll want to know what you believe. That's when they'll want to know. How did you get through that? And that's a difficult reality. That's hard, especially when we pray God open doors for me to talk about the gospel. And then he brings suffering. No, no, no, Lord, that's not what I meant. I didn't mean that way. No, like through a pamphlet or tract or something not suffering. But that's one of the ways, one of the reasons why the challenges, the suffering evil continue in the world. You know, Jobe, when he was going through so much, his wife came to him and said, Look, why don't you just curse God and die? And I thought she really needed our five love languages class here at church, right? Words of affirmation. I don't think she skipped that part of the marriage course, but he didn't. He endured. She said, Give up on your integrity. He endured. He stayed fast. And God is the one who's going to get the glory through that. And he's the one who's going to get the glory in this situation. That doesn't cover every aspect at all. That's just a taste. And it's not meant to just paste over some very hurts and challenges many in this room are facing. But it's just a taste of what else is going on in the world in the midst of those challenges. Now look at how the story continues, because after this, after he said to the disciples, Hey, let's go to Judea, look at how they respond. Look at verse eight. The disciple said to him, Look, Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you and you're going to go there again. Jesus answered, Are there not 12 hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles because the light is not in him. So Jesus says, Let's go back to the Judea, and the disciples rightly answer with concern. We just got out of that place. They were trying to kill you, which means they probably want to kill us too. And you want to drag us back there. Now, you would expect his answer to be more comforting or assuring them this instead, it's like some bizarre, cryptic puzzle. What are you talking about? Jesus? Light and day, whatever. We're only worried about those guys trying to kill us. But look at how he responds. There's two things going on here. There's the obvious layer. Okay? If you don't want to stub your toe, don't walk in the dark. Walk in the light, which is pointing to the reality of Jesus saying, we are going to stay out in the open. We don't have anything to hide. We don't have like secret underwear or secret knowledge or something that we're trying to keep from everyone else. We're out in the open here. Same is true here at Valley View, where we don't have just some kind of special knowledge that you might work up to that will unveil, I mean, only what is maybe hidden in God's word. And it's not clear to us at the time. So there's this working in the open, working in the light. And by the way, we're not going to Jesus is saying suddenly we're not going to avoid the hard places as a result. We're not going to shy away from those who want to kill us. We're not going to avoid an area just because those people are there. That's the first maybe more obvious layer, but the second layer really is an application point for Christ and the disciples and. I'm leaning on the work of Don Carlson here in terms of some of the insights he had. He says this these verses metaphorically insists that Jesus is safe as long as he performs the father's will, Jesus is safe, as long as he performs the father's will, and the disciples as well are safe, as long as they are the father's will. The safest place to be is in the father's will. I heard a guy, Ronnie Stevens. Years ago, Julie and I were at a conference for new Campus Crusade staff, and he was a pastor still in Memphis, but he had just come back from being a missionary in Russia, and he had gone there not long after the fall of the wall and his took his whole family there and the breakdown of communism. And it wasn't a very safe or stable place to be at the time. And one of his friends, fellow church member, fellow elder, had been very critical. What do you think you're doing? Why are you going to take your family to a place like this that is irresponsible, to put your children in that kind of situation? Now, granted, some of that may be justified. I don't know that whole situation, but the point he made to us, I was only hearing his side of the story, the point he made to us in that moment, that very week that this guy was criticizing for me, this for this as we're in Russia, someone in the very neighborhood I had lived, a young boy fell off a swing set and died. And the safest place to be is in the Lord's will. Safety is an illusion. None of us are safe. The only safe place to be is in the Lord's will. I mean, how many of you here are afraid of being eaten alive by a shark in the ocean? Any. I see a few hands. I know it's a little random. Come with me. I see a lot of hands all of a sudden. Okay. This is a bigger fear. And I thought we may need to have a counseling session just on the fear of sharks. Do you know how many are killed by a shark every year in the U.S.? Half a person. Well, it doesn't sound right. One person every two years is a better way to say it, are killed by a shark. Now, how many are scared of lawnmowers? Let me see some hands out here for fear of armor. Okay. A lot of fear of lawnmowers. I am, too. That's why I've refused to mow our yard. No, not really. 69 people a year are killed by lawnmowers. What does all that have to do with this? Our fears are often misplaced. Where are you? The safest? There is no safe place. Only in the Lord's will. That is the safest place to be. Because the reality is and the word Jesus is pointing here with them. The reality is death comes to all death is coming. Do all we can avoid it. So let's be in the father's will as we move toward it. It's a thousand times more important than to be to be in his will as we move forward in life. Jesus knows, though, that they don't understand this, and so he explains it. Let's look at verse 11 after saying these things, he said to them, Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him. The disciples, confused as they often are, said to him, Lord, if he's fallen asleep, he will recover. Jesus had spoken of his death. They thought He meant taking rest in sleep. Jesus told them plainly. Lazarus has died. And for your sake, I am glad that I was not there. So that you may believe, but let us go to him. I love this interaction. It is amazing how the disciples are often very confused. It seems like they're more confused than they are understanding of what Jesus is doing. And yet the fascinating part is they continue to follow it. Even in the midst of the confusion. And right here. What I love about this passage, though, is that Jesus very patiently takes the time to spell it out with them. This isn't what he did with the Pharisees. The Pharisees demanded last week, Speak plainly to us. Who are you? Are you the Christ or not? Tell us. And Jesus doesn't speak plainly with them. He won't just follow along with what they demand, but with the disciples. He's patient, He's kind. He's caring with those who are sincere. He's going to meet them where they are. He's going to take the time to love on them and meet them where they are. And it always has shocked me and has always shocked me about Jesus. The people who he is the most patient and kind with are the prostitutes, the tax collectors, those who are openly sinning. And the people he's the harshest with are the religious professionals, those who have it all figured out, the self-assured. You know, I just kind of pause and say, this is one of the things that I am very grateful for at Valley View. I'm never worried that the person who comes in who doesn't have it all figured out is going to be rejected. I'm never worried about that In fact, I know the person who comes in and is struggling, whether it's addiction or openly sinful choices, we're not running them out the door. People aren't looking down at them. And of course, maybe there is someone here in there, but the overall tone of the church is please come, please. You're welcome here. And we I love that about valley of you. And we always say, come as you are, so you don't have to stay as you are. Right. That's our hope. We all want to grow. We all want to change. No matter where we are. I love that about Valley View. Even though our temptations, there's something about our hearts at times, much like with the Pharisees we want to praise, who seem to be the professionals and ignore those who don't have it all together. I'm so grateful for being a church that seems to follow, for the most part, the way that Jesus approached it. So he's very gracious with the disciple, He's very calm, He takes the time and then he reveals his purpose here in what's coming in the interaction with Lazarus. You know, you would think the story here would be about Lazarus. Primarily. Lazarus probably felt like it was about him. You think it would be about Mary and Martha. And they're definitely involved. But he reveals his purpose here back in verse 15. I am glad I was not there for your sake so that you may believe. He was focused on the belief of the disciples, and this was critical to the ultimate growth of the church. And in my core guys who were going pass on the message to be on board to know what I'm about. And he's constantly telling them, You think I'm about this, You're confused, here's what I'm about. Believe now how this passage wraps up gives us a real picture into this reality of how people are responding to looming death. So look at this last verse, verse 16, last verse we're going to cover today. So Thomas called the twin, said to his fellow disciples, let us also go that we may die with him. So here we have Thomas. This is the first occurrence of Thomas in John, and he's called the Twin. There's some speculation about who was his twin. I heard one pastor say, I think it was Matthew, because every time the disciples are listed, Thomas and Matthew are always listed together. We don't know. But this was his nickname. He's better known, though, for a nickname we've given him. But what's what's his name referred to as Doubting Thomas, Right. What a great nickname to pick up along the way, Doubting Thomas. And we'll see this as we get into Chapter 20 after Jesus is resurrected. He is like, Yeah, I got to see him, I've got to touch him. I got to know that is him. This passage is interesting. This shines a little of light, I think, on his character, on his heart. And we can't know the tone of how this is written. Exactly. And I've heard a lot of different speculation about the tone of this passage. You know, some have said it's kind of like him just giving up, maybe a little sarcastic. I guess we'll go in that in, you know, Jesus wants to go to Judea. Here we go. We don't know we don't know exactly how it came across. But it's interesting me that he's the only disciple to speak up and he's the one to say, all right, if this is where need to go, if this is the father's will, we've signed up to follow him. Let's go. And so I'm not going to call him doubting. I'm going to call him loyal. Thomas. And if this is what it means, let's go. I am willing to go die. I don't even know what that means yet. If anyone wishes to come after me and deny himself, this was the call to the disciples, deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. And so with Thomas, we see this response to Where's my life headed? We see this response to the reflection at the funeral. Where am I going? Where is my loyalty? Where is my purpose and direction in life? And Thomas sums it up. Let us go wherever he's going, no matter the cost. Let's follow him. And so my hope today for each of us here, that as we think about our own end, as we think about what God has in store for us, that would be the same sentiment, the same burden, God, where you want me to go. And that may not mean Russia. Who knows what that means for you. That may just mean staying faithful to the gospel where you are. But the call is of Thomas to be loyal, to continue to follow in all things. Let's pray. God, we thank you for this morning. We thank you for seeing these students who are graduating, having been a part of this church. Many have already rejected you at this point in life. Many have said, I'm going to go my own way. Many have said no thanks, Lord. We pray for the protective hand over these these young adults, these young men and women. God use to change this city, to change every place you take them. Thank you. That we can celebrate what you're doing in their lives. Thank you. That we have VBS coming up where these kids are growing up in the church. Lord do radical things in their life. In the coming weeks. Lord, I pray today, as Ecclesiastes says, that the living would lay it to heart. Today. We would just be mindful. Life is short. You have a purpose. And more important than anything else is that we follow you help to follow you faithfully to day. Jesus. Tear down the walls of all our traditions, Break up the ground of our empty religion, and help us to truly follow you. Jesus, we love you. We love you, Jesus. Amen.