Summary: Jesus made it clear in His teachings that you are not really ready to live until you have faced the reality of death.
Jesus Turns a Funeral into a Celebration (Theme for this message came from "Outflow" by Sjogren and Ping)
Can you imagine the shock of the widow of Nain and the crowd surrounding the funeral procession when Jesus walked up and stopped the procession? Jesus saw the widow and had compassion on her. She probably had just recently lost her husband and now her only son is dead. Jesus waked up to the casket and said, “Young man, get up.” The young man sat up and began to talk to those around him. The crowd began to praise God.
Can’t you see the mother jumping for joy? Her only son who was dead is now alive.
Funerals are a time for reflection on life. When a loved one dies we do some deep thinking about the meaning of life. I find myself recommitting my life to the Lord at the funerals of loved ones.
One subject we tend to avoid is the topic of death. Carollyn worked for ten years for the Free Methodist Foundation helping people plan their wills, trusts and doing estate planning. The Foundation discovered from their studies that 80% of Americans do not have a will or a trust. Why? People don’t like to think about death and dying.
Jesus made it clear in His teachings that you are not really ready to live until you have faced the reality of death. A good practice sometime is to write out your own obituary and write what you would like your gravestone to have written on it.
Beside attending funerals of loved one pushing me to rethink my life and make new commitments to live for the Lord, when I have faced close calls they were wake up calls for me.
My second year of High School I was involved in a car accident near Salina, Kansas. I was knocked out when my head hit the dash and then thrown out of the car on the passenger side and the wheel of the car missed my head by inches. When I came to while lying in the ditch of the road I could hear the siren of the ambulance coming, and my first thought was, “God help me to be okay and I’ll stop compromising and live for You.”
In my first church where I served as Pastor in Kansas City, Kansas we purchased three acres of property on a hill and build a new church and parsonage. The back of the property slopped down to new homes built along that hillside. When it rained dirt was washed down into the back yards of the homes. So we decided to rent a backhoe and fill up the holes. I started down with the front end loader filled with dirt to fill a hole and the brakes failed to slow me down and the several ton tractor was headed to go through the backyard of a house and run into the back of the house so as I got near the bottom of the hill I turned sharply and the tractor flipped over. Fortunately I was thrown clear and landed in the bushes. If any part of the equipment had fallen on me I would have been a goner. I did some deep soul searching and praised the Lord for saving my life.
I. Time of Sorrow
When Jesus approached the village gate of Nain he met the funeral procession of the Widow and her friends following the coffin of her dead son. The atmosphere was one of sorrow and mourning.
Sorrow is something that all of us go through from time to time. We tend to make jokes about death to somehow take away the reality of death.
#A young minister who was asked by a funeral director to hold a graveside service for a homeless man who had died while traveling through the area. The service was to be held at a new cemetery way back in the country. This man would be the first person laid to rest there.
As he was not familiar with the back woods area, the young minister soon became quite lost and finally arrived over an hour late. He saw the backhoe by the grave and noticed that the crew was eating lunch under a nearby tree, but the hearse was nowhere in sight. He apologized to the workers for his tardiness, and stepped to the side of the open grave, where he saw the vault lid already in place. The young preacher assured the vault crew he would not hold them long, but this was the proper thing to do. The workers gathered around still eating their lunch. The young preacher poured out his heart and soul.
As he preached the workers began to say “Amen,” “Praise the Lord,” and “Glory hallelujah.” The young preacher preached and preached like he’d never preached before, from Genesis all the way through Revelation. He closed the lengthy service at last with a prayer and began to walk toward the car. He felt he had done his duty to the homeless man, and that the crew would leave with a renewed sense of purpose and dedication, in spite of his tardiness.