In Pastor Todd Mathison's sermon, we will focus on the conclusion of the Ultimate Question series by asking THE ultimate question, "What will you do with Jesus?" Tune in for the final part of this sermon series, and a special Easter Sunday service.

Pr. Todd Mathison

What Will You Do With Jesus?

Holy Week 2024, The Ultimate Question
Selections from John 11
March 31, 2024
In Pastor Todd Mathison's sermon, we will focus on the conclusion of the Ultimate Question series by asking THE ultimate question, "What will you do with Jesus?" Tune in for the final part of this sermon series, and a special Easter Sunday service.

Well, dear friends, grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. That’s a blessing I can give to you. I don’t have crosses for all of you. Sorry. But we’re going to be looking at answering life’s most important question today related to the empty cross and empty tomb. Now, just a note here. Don’t let that countdown on the screen throw you. Okay? It’s there on purpose. But you’ll find out more as the sermon continues on what that is all about. It’s Easter Sunday, my favorite day of the year. And not just because of chocolate. It’s because of the cross and the empty tomb. And it’s my favorite day to preach as well because, I mean, come on. Usually there’s a big crowd on Easter and it’s true here today. Of course, that brings some pressure and I’m feeling it. But especially knowing that for some it might be the only time or two that you attend church Last year, Easter Sunday, I had a guy in the lobby say to me, with all seriousness, wonderful service, Pastor. I’ll see you next year.

That compelling. So I started asking myself, I mean, is there a message I could put together? Is there a story I could tell? Is there some video clip our creative team could put together? What could I say that would get you to come back, not just next year, but next week? Because more than anything, I want each and every one of you to know and discover Jesus Christ and find in Him new life now and hope for tomorrow. So, this week I found myself as a preacher kind of praying, you know, Lord, Easter tends to draw a crowd. What message could I share? So I thought, well, I’ll kind of look and see what Jesus did when He drew a crowd. What words did Jesus speak, speaking to large gatherings? And you know, what I discovered was kind of unsettling and almost disturbing. Because whenever you read about large crowds following Jesus, it seems that He just said things that would make most of them leave and not come back. Rather than aiming to please, He certainly aimed to enlighten. And after His teachings, the Bible says many people departed, uninterested. In returning.

Lemme just give you a couple of examples. In John chapter six where Jesus is speaking to a crowd of about 20,000, he says, I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat. And can’t you almost feel the awkwardness and the discomfort in the moment there with the crowd? As Jesus uses such language to make a point that life, true life, is found only in Him. And sure enough, a few verses later, we read from this time, many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him. Here’s another example from Luke 14. Jesus says this, if anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes. Even their own life, such a person cannot be my disciple. Here Jesus is emphasizing that he must be the sole focus of his followers, not just one option among many, not just even first among others, but only. He challenges those who would prioritize worldly concerns over following him, even warning that following him entails carrying one’s own burdens. Despite the comfort that he caused, Jesus consistently speaks truth to large crowds, even if it means some may leave. And you know, it caused me to reflect back on some of my other Easter sermons. And I found myself apologizing to God. Because at times I’ve been perhaps too concerned with getting people to come back.

Now don’t get me wrong, my motivations were right. But I, I think that in the process Of begging people to come to Jesus, I have unintentionally belittled him. I mean, imagine this scenario. Back before my daughter was married, but she really wanted to be married, eager to find a husband. Imagine if I resorted to desperate measures like taking ads out in newspapers or erecting billboards or t shirts, pleading with someone to choose her. Wouldn’t that diminish her worth? Wouldn’t it imply that any suitor would be doing her a favor? Now, that’s not my style, that’s not my daughter, and that’s not me, her dad. I set high standards, and she exceeds them. And I tell you the truth, if you want to pursue her, you better come with your A game, or you’ll be swiftly shown the door. But I’m sorry if I’ve ever cheapened Jesus, or made it seem that you’re doing Him a favor. So today, this Easter Sunday, I want to invite us to be confronted with some uncomfortable truths. Remember Pilate in the story of Jesus at his trial? He posed this critical query, What should I do with Jesus? And Pilate, sensing, I think, the weight of what it means to believe in who Jesus said he was, he got scared and chose to wash his hands of the matter.

Even while knowing that it would alter everything. For us, however, washing our hands of Jesus isn’t feasible. Just as one can’t disregard gravity standing over the edge of a cliff, we can’t avoid the question, What will you do with Jesus? So, let’s look at a few uncomfortable truths, and then answer the ultimate question. I’m gonna be in John 11. If you have your Bibles or devices, you can follow along there. John 11. It’s a story about a man who himself had died and was raised to life again by Jesus, a man named Lazarus. Here’s how the story begins in verse 1. John 11. Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister, Martha. This Mary was, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, Lord, the one you love is sick. Lazarus is sick. to the point where there’s nothing and no one else they can turn to. The doctors have done everything they can do, but Lazarus has this dear friend named Jesus. And the sisters don’t even have to name their brother’s name. They just say to Jesus, send the message, The one you love is sick. But the hard truth is that Lazarus is not going to get any better. There’s nothing anyone can do. Lazarus needs to be saved. And herein, I think, is the first uncomfortable truth for you and for me that I want us to consider. We need to be saved. Imagine that you’re, say, on a large lake, and a storm erupts and hits.

Waves eventually overturn your boat, and you’re tossed into the waters. Now, got your waterproof cell phone, okay? And you see, you’ve got a signal! But your battery is like extremely low and so with that one call, what are you gonna ask for? You’re gonna order food because you’re hungry from DoorDash? BoatDash? Are you gonna ask for a raise at work because you really want that bigger house? Are you gonna ask someone to marry you because you really want to be married? No, the request you’re gonna make is someone save me! But I think the reason we don’t ask ourselves that question in life is because we don’t realize that we’re drowning. That apart from Christ, we’re in trouble. We don’t understand the need. The Bible says in Romans chapter 3, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This is actually one thing that we all here in this room and online have in common. The Bible also says that the punishment for our sins is death. What sin pays off in, what the wages of sin is death. Not just a physical death, but our sin condemns us to eternal separation from God. Which is really just a more comfortable way of saying hell. Hell. It’s a place described in the Bible As being outer darkness and horrible or Jesus said hell is a place where the worms that eat them do not die and the fire is not quenched. But the truth is that all of us have sinned and unless we’re somehow saved. Hell is a reality. And even though the Bible teaches this, a lot of people don’t believe it. And I, I think the reason they don’t believe it is because they don’t want to. And so maybe you’ve said, or maybe you’ve heard, well, I believe in God, but I don’t believe in a God who would send people to hell. But what if that is the God of the Bible? There is only one God. And he has made it clear that the wages of sin is death. Any other God is a pretend God. Something we imagine because that’s what we want. But the truth remains. We all need to be saved. And here’s It’s an attendant, uncomfortable truth. We can’t save ourselves.

You ask anyone, what’s gonna happen to you after you die, a lot of them will say, I’m gonna go to heaven. And you say, why? And they say, well, what, I’m a pretty good person. It’s hard for us to accept that we all need help. We all want to save ourselves. In my junior year of high school, my chemistry teacher, Mr. Risbrew, did something a little unusual. He handed out a test to all of us in the class that he, that he and we knew was going to be difficult. And he told us, I want you to read through the entire test before you begin taking it. And now some of you know where I’m going with this. As we read through the test, most of us realized we were in trouble. I thought I should have studied more for sure, but then I got to the end of that test, I read all the way through it, and read these words at the bottom, it said, You can try and get an A by taking the test, or you can just put your name on it, and automatically receive an A. I put my name on it, and brought it up to him right away, and walked out relieved. I found out later one of my classmates, Mark, sat next to me, didn’t read through the test, painstakingly worked all the way through it, never caught on, and that’s really too bad because I think that might have been the only A Mark would have ever gotten in chemistry. And then there was Faye, the co valedictorian, and apparently she got quite upset because she had spent so much time studying, and what kind of a teacher gives an A for doing nothing? I understand she actually stayed and just took the test on principle. Because, hey, if she’s gonna get an A, she was gonna earn it. Now, the truth is, you and I can’t earn holiness before God. I mean, I understand you’re a nice person who does good things. But even good people sin. And the Bible says that we have all sinned, and the penalty for our sins is not one that we want to pay.

Back to our story with Lazarus. He didn’t have much time left. His sisters sent word to Jesus, hoping he would come and save their brother. And in verse 6 of John 11 tells us that when Jesus heard about Lazarus, he stayed where he was for two more days. That’s not a good way for a pastor to make a call. When Jesus and his disciples finally get there, we read that Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days. There were friends and family with the two sisters, and it was a heart breaking scene. Many of you have even experienced people crying and weeping at the graveside in death of a loved one. Verses 20 through 22 say, When Martha heard that Jesus had arrived, she went out to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Yet even now I know that God will do anything you ask. Amen. Several versions of these verses have Martha saying to Jesus, If only you had been here. If only you had been here. How would you finish that sentence? God, if only you had. And I wonder if you’ve had some if only moments with God. There have been some times when God didn’t come through for you the way you thought He should or in the time that you expected. And like Martha, you might feel that He’s let you down. If only, Lord, if only you had kept my parents together.

If only you would have given us a child. If only you would have made those tests come back negative. If only you would have given me this job. If only you would have saved our marriage. If only you would help me find a spouse. And here’s the truth that often doesn’t get talked about. And it’s this, that just because you follow Jesus doesn’t mean life is going to be easy. Or I could put the uncomfortable truth this way. Sometimes Jesus doesn’t save the way we think he should. If only. And we have all these things that we think Jesus should do. And Martha, even in our text, wasn’t alone. Verse 37 says, Some of the Jews who were mourning there with the sisters said this, He gives sight to the blind. Why couldn’t He have kept Lazarus from dying? And maybe you’ve wondered from time to time, if God can, then why doesn’t He? And perhaps you’ve become a bit disillusioned. And you might still call yourself a Christian, but I mean, to be honest, your relationship with Jesus is kind of like that cousin you see only once or twice a year. And you know, I know sometimes, in an effort to build a crowd and get people to come back, some churches will teach that if you follow Jesus, all your problems will be solved. And, and so I think we can get these ideas of how we think Jesus should save. And it seems like our own idea is of salvation. They’ll end up focusing on the temporary and the temporal. Like Martha, we have our own ideas of how God should s save. Ideas that stretch all the way from, Lord, please help open up a parking spot in this crowded parking lot, to Lord, help fund our retirement dreams. Lord, straighten out our kids. Lord, give us a negative biopsy report. And we tend to think that salvation is something that we get on this side of the grave. And today, on Resurrection Easter Sunday, it’s important for us to consider this. Are we focused on the temporary earthly good? Martha was focused there, but Jesus was thinking far beyond that. In verse 23, Jesus told her, Martha answered, I know he will be raised to life on the last day, when, when all the dead are raised. And I think she’s thinking, Jesus is saying to her, Hmm, Lazarus, he’s gone on to a better place. You’ll see him again someday. And now, isn’t that what everyone says at funerals? And I find that sometimes of being dubious comfort. But Martha’s not just talking to anyone. I mean, this is Jesus. And then Jesus makes this incredible claim in verses 25 and 26.

I am the one who raises the dead to life. Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. And he says, do you believe this? And that’s the ultimate question. Do you believe that Jesus is the resurrection and the life? With that one statement, Jesus is not only claiming to be God, but he’s making this important claim. Jesus claims to be God. Life. The life. The Bible says that everything we need for real life and real living are found only in Him. I came upon a 60 Minutes interview years ago with Tom Brady, Captain Cool, right? Back when he was with the Patriots. He’d already had three Super Bowl championships, but he was saying that despite fame or dating supermodels and magazine covers, Brady expressed a hunger for something greater. Questioning if there’s more to life beyond his achievements. And this was Tom Brady with still four more Super Bowls to win. And maybe you hear about life and you think, Well, wait a minute. I thought that this is it. I thought that this, this life, that this was it. But Jesus says this, I am the life. I am what you were created for. Jesus says, I am what you’ve been searching for. All along. Jesus also says, I am the resurrection. He’s saying I’m the one that has power over death. I’m the one that gives eternal life. And then he says, do you believe this? And here’s how Martha responds. Yes Lord. She replied, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God.

You are the one we hoped would come into the world. And then Jesus puts action. To his words, walks over to the tomb, says, take away the stone. Martha objects. She says, he’s been in there for four days. The odor is going to be horrible. But the stone is removed and verse 43 says when Jesus had finished praying he shouted Lazarus come out the man who had been dead came out His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth a cloth covered his face Jesus then told the people untie him and let him go and that funeral turned into a party Weeping gave way to celebration Jesus says and shows You I am the resurrection and the life. Now, if you believe in this and put your trust in Jesus, here’s the promise. You will live. Because here’s the final truth I want us to consider. Jesus alone can save. Maybe that sounds a bit uncomfortable to you, but that truth is actually a reason to celebrate. We needed to be saved, couldn’t save ourselves, but the Bible says, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For you see, all of us will have a day like Lazarus. A day when we all die. Remember that number up on the screen? It’s actually a countdown. It’s been counting down during this entire sermon. That countdown is actually the number of seconds I have yet to live. It’s from a website called Death Clock. You simply enter your date of birth, and that’s when you die. And it gives you the date of your death. And, you ready for mine? July 11th, 2034. Gives me about 316 million more seconds to live. Now, the problem with this website, it doesn’t come with any guarantee. I mean, like we’re not, none of us are guaranteed even tomorrow. It’s an estimate. But you know, even if it’s in the ballpark, It’s kind of depressing just to watch those numbers keep going down, you know on this website There’s a little link that said delay your date of death Okay, let’s find this out takes me to a medical website or a health one the health care website It’s probably true I can exercise eat better take better care of myself and maybe put off my day to death a bit And, you know, a lot of people work at that.

They give all kinds of attention to those things. But you know what? Eventually the clock runs down to zero. But you know what? I don’t need to live in fear of that number. I don’t need to live in fear of death. And you don’t either. Because here’s the good news. This story from John 11 isn’t just some story from 2, 000 years ago of a man who died and came back to life. It’s much more than that. It’s a preview of And it’s a promise and hope that one day, because Jesus conquered death, we too need not fear death, but will come out of our own graves, all to follow Jesus, the first one who came out of his own, which is what we celebrate today on Easter. You know, not long after this account of the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus himself would be arrested. Beaten and put to death on a cross for our sins. But on the third day, he came back from the dead just like he said he would. And because he conquered death, all of us who look to him and are in him have conquered death also. Because as someone once said, when a man walks out of his own grave, he is whoever he says he is. And whatever he says is true. That truth isn’t always comfortable. But the Bible says the truth will set you free, free from the fear of death, and free to receive God’s radical grace. New life now, and everlasting life to come, given through faith in Jesus Christ. So how will you answer that ultimate question? What will you do with the resurrected Jesus? Join me in prayer. Lord God, grant us the work of the Holy Spirit to embrace these challenging truths. Amen. Thank you for the opportunity we’ve had to reflect on our faith and to celebrate Easter Resurrection. And grant us the courage then to acknowledge our need for salvation, and then to fully trust in Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord. I ask in his precious name.

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Whether you are new in faith or are seeking to deepen your walk with Jesus, we are eager to connect with you.

Don’t hesitate to reach us out at (480) 830-5024, or message us filling the form below.

GriefShare

The GriefShare Program is a 13-week series of videos that we watch each week of the meeting. Each weekly GriefShare group begins with a 30-minute video featuring respected experts on grief-related topics and helpful stories from people who have experienced loss. Their insights will help you manage your emotions, gain clarity, and find answers to your questions as you walk through the grief process. We welcome everyone who has a loss; whether it be a child or a parent or spouse.

The videos are followed by discussion. Talking with other people who understand what you’re experiencing brings great comfort, normalizes the grief experience, and offers a supportive environment to work through your grief.

Each session stands alone, so you can join anytime. Consider a single session to learn about the program.

We meet every Monday from 12:30-2:30pm here at Victory.
Check out the schedule.

Sign up today!

Do you have more questions? 
Don’t hesitate to reach us out at (480) 830-5024, or message us filling the form below.
Learn more about GriefShare at their webpage: www.griefshare.org.

WOMEN’S MINISTRY

We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study.

Summer Schedule (May-Sept): 2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30am

Winter Schedule (Oct-April): 2nd Tuesday of the month

Esperanza Bible Study – 9:30am

Mary Bible Study – 1:30pm (in home)


Women’s Ministry

PURPOSE STATEMENT

As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30 am.

Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

  • 2nd Tuesday of the month
  • Esperanza Bible Study - 9:30am
  • Naomi Bible Study - 2:00 pm
  • Mary Bible Study - 1:30 pm (in-home)
  • Women’s Ministry

    PURPOSE STATEMENT

    As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

    We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

    Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

    2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30 am.

    Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

  • 2nd Tuesday of the month
  • Esperanza Bible Study - 9:30am
  • Naomi Bible Study - 2:00 pm
  • Mary Bible Study - 1:30 pm (in-home)
  • Stephen Ministry

    Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or relocation.

    Stephen Ministers are trained by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders using resources from Stephen Ministries St. Louis. The training they receive in the congregation equips them to provide high-quality care to people who are hurting.

    Care receivers are individuals in the congregation or community who are going through a crisis or life difficulty. Potential care receivers first meet with a pastor or Stephen Leader, who assesses their needs for care and matches them with a Stephen Minister.

    After being matched with a person experiencing a life crisis, the Stephen Minister meets with that person on a weekly basis for about an hour to listen, care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support. The caring relationship lasts as long as the need for care exists.

    “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NRSV)

    FAMILY PROMISE

    Four times a year we host families experiencing homelessness at Victory for a week at a time. Volunteers needed to set up rooms, preparing a meal, serve/clean-up dinner or stay as an overnight host.

    Upcoming Host Weeks: April 16-23, 2023 & November 112-19, 2023

    STEPHEN MINISTRY

    Stephen Ministers are lay congregation members trained to provide one-to-one care to those experiencing a difficult time in life. 

    GRIEFSHARE

    A grief recovery support group where you can find help and healing for the hurt of losing a loved one.

    13-week Program: Mondays, 12:30-2:30pm, February 13-May 8, 2023
    (No meeting April 10th)
    GriefShare.org

    LSS-SW

    Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest (LSS-SW)

    I-HELP PROGRAM: We provide a safe and secure place for women who are currently experiencing homelessness the 2nd & 4th Thursday of the month.

    FOOD PANTRY: Food boxes distributed Mondays & Wednesdays, 9:00-11:30am.
    Utility & rental assistance by appointment only 480-654-4539.

    Victory Quilters

    We meet the 3rd Tuesday and Wednesday of the month at 8:30am. Come when you can, stay as long as you can; everyone can cut, sew, pin and tie knots. You do not need to be a church or circle member to attend. Bring a friend! The quilts are donated to Navajo Lutheran Mission, Orchard: Africa and Lutheran Social Ministries. We typically break for the summer. Please check schedule.

    MUSIC MINISTRY

    Ensembles at Victory practice weekly during the high season to prepare for weekly worship and special events. In addition, many people share their talents individually. Click here for our concert line-up!

    NAVAJO LUTHERAN MISSION

    Serving the Navajo community of Rock Point, AZ, a remote, isolated village near the Four Corners. The Mission campus includes a K-2 private Christian school, clinic, cultural center, water project and food bank.  (nelm.org)

    FAIR TRADE

    Victory Women support Lutheran World Relief (lwr.org) by selling Fair Trade hand-made crafts, jewelry, coffee and tea that generates income for small-scale businesses in third world countries. 

    OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD

    A “shoebox ministry” of Samaritan’s Purse, delivering gift-filled shoeboxes to boys and girls around the world.

    ORCHARD: AFRICA

    To equip the church to respond to poverty & injustice, thereby caring for the vulnerable using four programs: Food & Agriculture, Care, Education and Ministry.  (orchardafrica.org)

    Stephen Ministry

    Stephen Ministry equips lay people to provide confidential one-to-one Christian care to individuals in our congregation and community who are experiencing a difficult time in life, such as grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or relocation.

    Stephen Ministers are trained by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders using resources from Stephen Ministries St. Louis. The training they receive in the congregation equips them to provide high-quality care to people who are hurting.

    Care receivers are individuals in the congregation or community who are going through a crisis or life difficulty. Potential care receivers first meet with a pastor or Stephen Leader, who assesses their needs for care and matches them with a Stephen Minister.

    After being matched with a person experiencing a life crisis, the Stephen Minister meets with that person on a weekly basis for about an hour to listen, care, encourage, and provide emotional and spiritual support. The caring relationship lasts as long as the need for care exists.

    “Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, NRSV)

    WOMEN’S MINISTRY

    Welcome to the vibrant women’s ministry at Victory Lutheran Church! As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are committed to growing in faith, affirming our gifts, and supporting one another in our callings. Our purpose is to engage in ministry and action, promoting healing and wholeness in the church, society, and the world. At Victory Lutheran Church, our women’s ministry provides a nurturing and empowering space for women of all ages to connect, grow, and serve together. Through uplifting worship, inspiring Bible studies, enriching events, and impactful service opportunities, we equip women to live out their God-given purpose and embrace their unique gifts. Join us as we journey together, fostering fellowship, spiritual growth, and making a lasting impact within our church, our families, and our wider community.

    PURPOSE STATEMENT

    As a community of women created in the image of God, called to discipleship in Jesus Christ,  and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves to grow in faith, affirm our gifts,  support one another in our callings, engage in ministry and action, and promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.

    We meet throughout the year on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for Bible Study:

    Summer Schedule (May-Sept)

    2nd Tuesday of the month all groups meet together on campus at 9:30am.

    Winter Schedule (Oct-April)

    • 2nd Tuesday of the month
    • Esperanza Bible Study – 9:30am
    • Naomi Bible Study – 2:00pm
    • Mary Bible Study – 1:30pm (in home)