Summary: This funeral sermon is in story form. Funerals always need to point the way to Jesus.
Finding Jesus At A Time Of Grief
Today is a day of grief. Today is a day of sadness. Today we are here because __________ has died and it affects us. I would not say everything is all right. Because it is not. We hurt. And we know we will hurt for a long time. When a relationship is lost we feel pain. Relationships come with a price. The price we pay is that there are times of joy but there are also times of sorrow. But relationships are worth it. We are here because a loved one has died - and it hurts.
I say to you, grieve. Grieve long and grieve deeply. Do not run from it. Do not treat your grief as if it were a stranger you can send away or deny it. Grieve what is lost. Grieve honestly. Grieve lovingly. Grieve patiently, until the cup is emptied. There is no other way back to wholeness but by facing what life brings.
Yet, I would like to speak a word of comfort. I would like to tell you a story today. It is a true story. It is found in the pages of the Bible at John chapter 11. It is a story of death – but also a story of life. It is a story of hope in the mist of despair. It is a story of miracles. The story took place a little over 2000 years ago.
There was a little village named Bethany. It was not far from Jerusalem. The customs were different from ours as was the language. But the events of that day were the same as this event today. A family member had died and there was sadness in the air. The family had gathered together to mourn the loss of a loved one.
You see times of grief and sorrow are universal. Every man, woman and child on this planet has been or will be affected by death – regardless of the nationality, economic status or age. Everyone in the world can identify with us being here today.
In the story it was a brother who had died. The family members that he left behind were two sisters. One of them was named Martha and the other one’s name was Mary. They loved there brother very much and were saddened by his passing. His name was Lazarus.
Lazarus had many friends and one of them was a man by the name of Jesus. Jesus was a popular guy. He was a kind of a roaming preacher. He taught from the Bible and performed some miracles in his travels. He had turned water into wine, caused the lame to walk, gave sight to the blind and healed those who were near death. Is it any wonder that Martha went out of the house and down the road when she heard that Jesus was in town? She went to him and made a bold statement the minute she saw him. She said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
There are times we have hope and there are times we feel let down? Martha was expressing those feelings that day. We express it in the same words that Martha did, “If only.” If only we had done something different. If only we had gotten treatment earlier. If only I had …… If only God had ….. But we can’t live in a world filled with only “if only”. We need to live in a world of reality. It is a world where bad stuff happens to good people. It is a world where good people get sick or have an accident and they die. Sometimes good comes and sometimes bad comes that is the world we live in. It is the process we call life. But it is the reality of our existence. There are times we hope and pray that God would break in – “If only God would …” yet sometimes He doesn’t change the order of things and we hurt.
But Jesus did not leave Martha without hope. He gave her this promise. Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again. Your brother will live again. Your brother will be with you again.” I am sure that the thought brought a faint smile to her tear stained face. To think of a day – somewhere in the future where there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more disease should bring a smile to all of our faces. To think of a day when every tear we have ever cried with be dried up and forgotten – should bring us some peace. To think of a day when those who are friends of God will live again should bring a little hope to our hearts – even on a day like today.