Summary: A straightforward sermon that can be used for either a believer’s or non believer’s funeral. It speaks of the reality of death and presents the gospel in a gentle way.
Freedom from the Fear of Death
The scripture says in Ecclesiastes: “There is A time for everything…”
1 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance …
We don’t live on this earth forever. We are all aware of that – and this day is a stark reminder of that reality. Therefore, just as a wise man will plan how he wishes to live his life, he also is a wise man who will plan in advance for his death. Death is one of the ugly realities of life, a reality which we must all face. Our gathering here today is to honor the life and memory of Edwin Oswald. It is also to find comfort, not just because of Edwin’s death, but because we are faced with the reality of the certainty of our own death.
Ø What hope is there? If death is a finality are we not greatly fearful of what death means?
Ø The Word of God – the Bible – is the message we have from God. That comfort – the only comfort we have regarding death – is found in the Person of Jesus Christ. I know of no more comforting text than the words of our Lord Jesus Himself, recorded in John chapter 14. These are the words which I would share with you today, as we seek to find comfort in the face of death.
As Jesus was approaching the time of His own death, He spoke these words of comfort and assurance to His own disci-ples:
"Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 "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. 4 "And you know the way where I am going." 5 Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:1-6). [Pause for effect]
There is one great fear common to all men, which is greater than all other fears. It is a fear which haunts men all of their lives. That fear, is the fear of death. The writer to the Hebrews speaks of that fear in these words:
Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives (Hebrews 2:14-15).
The disciples were no different than anyone else when it came to the fear of death. Even though they had been with Jesus, and had witnessed His power over death on several occasions, the fear of death was always with them; Never more so than when He spoke of His own death. Every time that Jesus told His disciples “I am going to die”, they were uneasy; and they sometimes even tried to persuade Him to change His mission to avoid it..
Jesus was eating the Passover with His disciples on the night He was to be arrested and soon after crucified. He had just shaken His disciples by telling them that one of their group would betray Him – and then he reminds them that He would be put to death very soon – and that they would not be able to follow Him immediately, but would follow Him later on.
Imagine for a moment how you would have felt, if you were hearing from one of your very closest of friends that he/she was about to die, and that you would not be able to see him/her for a time – but that soon you could most cer-tainly see him/her again. I suppose you or I might think that person was not thinking straight. For the fear of the separation that comes with death would appear to make that impossible. We think of death – too often – as a finality, a finish. But Jesus had another perspective on Death….