THE EVANGELICAL CHURCH WINNING ALL
5007 SOUTHSIDE DRIVE
LOUISVILLE, KY 40214
THEME: When the Curtain Opens For You
TOPIC: Faith in God’s Providence
TEXT: Matthew 27:45-56
Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi
A story was told about a father in the Middle East of Baghdad who sent his son to a market place to run an errand. When the son completed the assignment and as he wanted to leave he saw a lady. The face of this lady frightened the son so much that he left the market place immediately and ran home in order to report the incident to his father. As this son narrated the story to his father, the father took a horse and ran to the market place to see the lady. The father said to the lady, “why did you frighten my son this morning?” The lady replied thus, “I didn’t intend to stare or frighten your son but it was your son that frightened me.” The lady continued saying, she was surprised to see his son in the Middle East of Baghdad because she supposed to have an appointment with him that day.
Brethren, you and I have an appointment in one place or the other. It could be in London, Chicago, Louisville, KY, Lexington, Maryland, or New York. This appointment could be because of cancer, accident, or different types of diseases that devour us today. Be aware that death awaits us as the concrete floor awaits the falling light bulb. But when we fall into different categories of sorrow, difficulty, and disappointment, be assured that the Lord has given us the resources to cope with the difficulties in our lives. That might mean making some tough choices, but there is a way of escape because we have someone to call upon. And that person is Jesus Christ who says, Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me (Psalms 50: 15 (NKJV).
Step 1: Faith in God’s Providence
In reference to a man, Erwin W. Lutzer in his book titled “One Minute After You Die.” He narrated the story of a couple Pastor Scott & Mrs. Janet Willis in this way:
On November 8, 1994, Pastor Scott Willis and his wife, Janet, were traveling with six of their nine children on Highway I-94 near Milwaukee when a piece of metal fell of the truck ahead of them. Scott had no choice but to let the object pass under his vehicle; the result was that the rear gas tank exploded and five of the six Willis children died instantly in the flames. The sixth child, Benjamin, died a few hours later.
Scott and Janet were able to get out of the vehicle; sustaining burns from which they would later recover. Standing there watching their children die in the fire, Scott said to Janet, “This is the moment for which we are prepared.”
Every morning we awake we say, this is one more day to prove the faithfulness of God. Every night we say, we are one day closer to seeing our children again (Erwin W. Lutzer, pages 157-158).
Beloved, such is the testimony of this couple who understands that children are a gift of God; and when God wants them back, He has the right to take them to Himself. The above horrible story of Pastor Scott and Janet Willis reminds me of the painful and sorrowful story of Martha and Mary when their brother Lazarus died. The Scripture narrates it thus:
The Death of Lazarus
1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”
12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles[a] away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Jesus and Death, the Last Enemy
28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was[b] in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”[c]
32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” 37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”
Lazarus Raised from the Dead
38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.[d] And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11: 1-44 (NKJV).
Brethren, be assured that Jesus Christ is our best example of how to face that final hour that most assuredly will come to us at any time. I wish you truly understand that heaven is every Christian final destination, and we will be free from the fear of death.
Step 11: He Died with the Right Attitude
Beloved, be assured that our Lord Jesus Christ died with a mixture of grief and joy for the Scripture says,
The Prayer in the Garden
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless[a] I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26: 36-42(NKJV).
Our Lord Jesus Christ knew that or believed that His personal holiness would come in contact with the defilement of sin. Therefore, He was sorrowful unto death as He wrestled with the trauma that awaited Him. Nevertheless, He believed that His death was the path to victory. Before He was taken to Gethsemane, the Bible recorded His words thus:
Jesus Prays for Himself
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, 2 as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should[a] give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. 3 And this is eternal life that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. 7 Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.
9 “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me,[b] that they may be one as We are (John 17: 1-11(NKJV).
Dearly Beloved, do not feel guilty when you face death with apprehension, for our Lord Jesus Christ also expressed emotional agony the night before the horror of the cross. Yet, with this fear came comfort, joy, and peace. Be assured that the Almighty Father is on your side to protect and guide you no-matter how difficult the situation might be. Be assured that He will see you through because He is on your side. Trust in Him, depend on Him, and you will see that victory is certain because He is always on your side no-matter your difficulty or sorrow.