Summary: A funeral sermon for the elderly.
• Memorial Sermon for Robert ______ ____________ March 7, 2009
by Pastor Terry Barnhill
Jesus told us, “Do not let your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And you know where I go, and you know the way.” (John 14:1)
When Jesus spoke those words, our favorite doubter, the Apostle Thomas, just couldn’t resist. “But Lord,” Thomas interrupted, “we really don’t know where You’re going. So how can we know the way?”
Somehow, I don’t think Jesus was too surprised by that. For Thomas, and for us all, Jesus explained it as simply as possible, “I am the way,” he said, “the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”
For those who have difficulty understanding our faith in Christ, I invite them to consider those words. That statement is pretty much at the heart of it, and it doesn’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room for reinterpreting. If you know Jesus, then you know his Father.
Jesus wasn’t angry with Thomas for his doubts. Nor is God angry when we confess our doubts and ask sincere questions. Rather, it’s the heart of stone, the heart that doesn’t want to know God, that has no place at the foot of God’s throne. Those who seek God’s Truth, and have a humble heart to receive it, will never be turned away from God’s grace.
Bob had such a heart to know God, and for many years, Bob and his wife, Dolores – or Dee as she was affectionately known – dedicated themselves to the worship and service of Jesus Christ within this church, within their family, and throughout their lives. Now he has received the well deserved blessing of knowing his Lord face-to-face. He has fully realized the grace of God and a joyful reunion with Dee.
The morning that Bob passed away, I met with _____ _________ and ______ and __________ – Bob’s wonderful nurses in his final years. ________ shared with me the events of the previous day; how she had taken him to Fresno for a doctor’s appointment. On their return home, Bob asked Tonya if she would take a detour around his farm. While ________ drove, Bob drank in the joy of seeing his flourishing orchards of walnuts and almonds.
As he gazed at the splendor of the budding almond blossoms, he quietly whispered, “My trees will give me a good harvest this year.” I do not doubt that our Heavenly Father was telling him, even then, that all his concerns were over, and he would soon know how wonderful the blessings of God’s harvest can truly be.
For the moment, Bob has left the love of his family and friends to be embraced by an even greater love. It’s that divine love that makes our faith in Jesus Christ unique above all other faiths. It’s the realization that God is more than an omnipotent Creator. He is the eternal source, the fountain head from which all life and all love springs. Without knowing God, one can still know attraction, appreciation, even passion, but we cannot fully comprehend “love.”
It’s God’s divine love that led Jesus to suffer and die at Calvary so that our fractured hearts can be made whole. In his resurrection from the dead, Jesus proved that there’s no power greater than His love. That He became flesh and dwelled among us is the proof of just how personal God wants to be in our lives. To know Jesus Christ, is not a religion. It’s a personal relationship with God.
In his lifetime, Jesus showed us the proof of his relationship with his Father through unparalleled wisdom and miracles. In his death and resurrection, he showed us the proof that his promise is real. Our confidence in His word is what sustains us. Unfortunately, however, for those who don’t want to believe or can’t get past their own pride, no proof is ever enough. Nevertheless, they will live out their lives trying to fill that God-shaped whole in their hearts that only Christ can fill.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the struggling Christians in Thessalonia,
“We would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.” (I Thess. 4:13-14)