The Word of Jesus. Funeral Sermon.
In Memoriam + Harlow Eungard
Blackburn-Giegrich Funeral Home
St. John 5:24-30
November 2, 2015
“The Word of Jesus”
Dear Sandra, Gwen, Jason,
All of Harlow’s relatives and friends:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s Word for our comfort this morning is from St. John’s Gospel, chapter 5: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (v. 24)
I watched the video you put together with pictures of your dad and grandpa throughout his life. It made me think of the many joys God gives us in our lives on earth—the joy of growing up, the joy of getting married, of seeing your children born, of seeing your grandchildren growing up. The sad thing is that so often many of us are caught up in the troubles we experience in this life and we forget to be thankful for the joys God gives us, particularly the blessings of family. But today, despite our grief, is a day to give thanks for the joys God gave your father and grandpa, and that God gave to you through him. Today, besides our mourning, we have to give thanks to God for the gift of Harlow and his life, and the gift of one another.
We can give thanks to God especially because it is not His will that death should have the victory and reign over us in grief and despair. Rather God has given what is dearest and most precious to Him to us so that we might have life. He has given His only-begotten Son to become one of us and join the human family. God the Son is a human being, our brother. He joins us in the valley of the shadow of death, where we live, and He calls out to us with these words of authority: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” (John 5:25)
That is a kind of power that is difficult for us to comprehend—the power to give life to the dead with your voice and your words. But Jesus’ words are not the words of an ordinary, sinful human being. They are the words of Almighty God who has come in human flesh and blood. He created the world and gave life to us in the beginning by His Word, by speaking. And now He has come as one of us to speak the word that raises the dead.
You probably remember from Sunday School the story of the fall of mankind. The first man disobeyed God’s Word and took fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because he wanted to be like God. As a result he and all his offspring became subject to death and the curse. From one man death spread to all human beings. The joys God gives us in this life with our families are punctuated by sorrow because of death. We lose those we love to it and every day we grow closer to our own end.
And after this life comes the judgment by God. And no human being can stand that judgment on his own, no matter how good he may seem or how well he may have lived in the judgment of other people. God’s righteous law requires that we be righteous not only in our actions but in our thoughts and emotions. Every sinful impulse, thought, and word that has ever come from us makes us guilty before God, subject not only to death in this world but to eternal death.
But now Jesus comes to us and speaks the words that give life. He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
Jesus speaks the word that makes us free from our sins, free from God’s judgment. He speaks the words that give eternal life as a free gift. He can do this not only because He is God, but because as true God and man He came to the earth to bear our sin and death. He bore the sins of the world on the cross and was judged guilty by God. He bore the punishment for our sins when He cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” As a result everyone who believes in Him is set free from the guilt of sin and eternal death.
Because Jesus has redeemed and bought back the whole human race by His death on the cross, at His Word death will let go of the whole human race. It is certain. He says, “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:29) The grave will let all people go at the word of Jesus, even those who don’t believe. All people will be raised from the dead, either to be judged or to be given everlasting life and joy.
The only question is, “Which resurrection will I have?” Most people trust that they have lived fairly decent lives and hope that God will judge them to be righteous. But according to the Bible that is a vain hope. It teaches, “There is no one righteous, no, not one. All have turned aside—there is no one who does good, not even one.” (Romans 3)
There is a righteousness that stands before God and makes us good in His sight. It is the righteousness that is by faith in Jesus. Jesus has accomplished all that God requires. He has paid all our debt of sin with His blood on the cross. In His Word He freely gives this righteousness so that we are able to stand before Him with joy on judgment day.
That word of Jesus that gives eternal life has come to your father and grandfather Harlow, and it has come to you also. It first came to Harlow on the fourth of July in 1937 when it said through the pastor, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And Harlow continued to hear this life-giving word of Jesus through most of his life. That word has the power to give eternal life and free from judgment all who continue in faith in it until the end.
It is this same powerful word of Jesus that comes to us today to console us in our grief and enable us to give thanks. It enables us to give thanks because it proclaims eternal life and the forgiveness of sins as a free gift. It is the same word that will one day raise the dead and give glory, immortality, and eternal joy to all who receive it in faith.
Stay close to this Word. Hear it preached. Read it. It gives comfort in our grief, promising us that death and judgment are not our end, because God’s Son has tasted death and judgment for us. Draw near to Jesus who comes to you in His Word when it is proclaimed. The same word that will raise the dead on the last day will also raise you up spiritually and give you comfort in your grief and assurance that your Lord, who conquered death, is working out your salvation.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Soli Deo Gloria