Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A Tribute to Jesus . . . and to Clint Dobson

Today, March 3, marks four years since Clint Dobson's death. Some of you who read these words may not have known Clint. He served as the Pastor of North Pointe Baptist Church here in Arlington, Texas. This church is a mission of our church -- so Clint was on our staff. He was one of my students at Truett Theological Seminary. I felt led to bring him here to pastor our mission church.

He married Laura just a little while after he began his work here with us. Together, they were such a force for good as they served the Lord here in north Arlington.

Tragically, Clint was murdered in his office at the church on March 3, 2011. A day forever etched in many of our memories.

Today, I found myself drawn to John 11. This is one of my favorite pages in the Gospels. In this text, the humanity of Jesus and the divinity of Jesus are presented so powerfully through both words and actions. I would encourage you to take the time to read it.

The chapter opens with the announcement that Lazarus was sick. His sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick" (John 11:3). Wow. The one "Jesus loved." Jesus was fully human. He understood what it meant to love someone. He was acquainted with the power of love and the force of bad news. 

How many times have we received bad news about someone we love? I take great comfort in the fact that Jesus understands how that feels. He can identify with you when someone you love is suffering. He knows the cascade of feelings that can overwhelm a person. He was fully human.

But John quickly reveals that Jesus is also fully God. In verse 4, Jesus boldly declares, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." Wow. Jesus claims here to have power over death itself. He knew that a display of power of this magnitude would be a testimony to His divinity.

After intentionally waiting a couple of days, Jesus finally made His way to Bethany to the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Martha ran to meet Jesus. "If you had been here, my brother would not have died," she said. The divinity of Jesus emerged as He declared, "Your brother will rise again." Martha had some knowledge of Messianic eschatology. She replied, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day" (John 11:23). Jesus re-framed the entire discussion with His famous statement marked by both Messianic fulfillment and Divine revelation:

"I am the resurrection and the life. the one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

I am! This is a direct claim to be divine. He embodies the power of the resurrection. He is life. He will give life to those who die in Him. Death has no victory in eternity. In fact, as John records in his Gospel, Jesus will conquer death on Easter Sunday through His own resurrection. He will demonstrate the power of the Gospel as He answers both sin and death in His Passion.

Martha was overwhelmed by this truth. She proclaimed her belief in Jesus as the Messiah.

Mary came to Jesus and reiterated the words of her sister. "If only . . ." (John 11:32)

The humanity of Jesus surfaced again when Jesus saw the depth of grief displayed by Mary and her friends. John wrote, "He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled" (John 11:33). He was moved as a human being. Again, Jesus identifies with us in our sorrow and grief. He understands the pain of death and loss.

Finally, Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus. And he wept (John 11:35). The Son of Man wept. The Son of God wept. Overwhelmed by the moment of grief. I believe He wept as a human being because of the pain felt by his friends. I believe He wept as the Son of God because He was staring the result of sin and brokenness in the face. Death had come. At this point, there was little to do but cry. Everyone around Jesus at that moment would also die. Including Him! And --- He wept.

However, then His divinity was displayed when He called Lazarus forth from death. He demonstrated His power over death. The grave is powerless when Life speaks. Resurrection spoke. And -- Lazarus came forth! Wow!

Jesus Christ was fully human. He felt every emotion. He knows what it is like to stand in a cemetery and cry. He knows the pain that families feel when death comes. He identifies with us in our loss and grief. And yet, Jesus was fully God. He understood death to be an enemy to be defeated. He demonstrated His ability to temporarily address death by resuscitating Lazarus from the dead. However, He would deal death an eternal blow with His resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday. 

Because of the resurrection power of Jesus, Christians enter and leave cemeteries differently than non-believers. We have hope in our grief. We acknowledge His presence with us in our sorrow. Jesus was with all of us when we stood in the cemetery in Arlington and buried Clint Dobson. He was with Clint when he died. He welcomed Clint into eternity. He has used Clint in both life and death. He will give Clint a new body one day that will last forever. Clint will rise again on the last day.

Until that day comes, we can testify that Clint did not die in vain. He has brought glory to the Son of God in his death. God has used him in life and in death. His life and ministry continue to bear fruit in God's Kingdom today. He gave his life to give witness to the One who has conquered death. Praise God.

Today we pay tribute to Clint. He lived and died as a tribute to His Lord. Amen.