Summary: This funeral sermon was prepared for the funeral of a four month old but would be good for any funeral.
At a time of death we need reassuring words. Those words are important when they are given but especially when they come from a friend. The words of a friend seem to carry greater weight. They are warm. They are to be trusted. In John 11 we find Jesus sharing a challenging experience with some of His friends. Lazarus had died. He was the brother of Mary and Martha. It was stated, in verse 5, that Jesus was fond of the three siblings. He was their friend. Jesus shared some reassuring words with his friends. I want to highlight three reassuring words that Jesus wants us to know.
1. Jesus wants us to know that he feels our pain. The Bible tells us that Jesus wept (vs. 35).
The Greek people felt as if God was isolated, unfeeling, and uncaring. When John wrote his book he was communicating a revolutionary truth. God is a compassionate and caring God!
The Bible says Jesus "understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the testings we do." Heb. 4:15 (NLT)
He felt our pain. "He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows." Is. 53:4 When Jesus died on the cross he carried the weight of the word upon His shoulders. He literally carried our pain. This is why he cried in agony. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Mt. 27:46
I once heard a story about a lady who was bitter because she had lost a child. She complained about her bitterness to her pastor. She asked the pastor of God’s whereabouts when her child died. The pastor said, "I guess he was in the same location as when His son died." God understands our pain because He has felt our pain.
2. Jesus wants us to know that He sees life and death from a different perspective. Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies." (vs. 25)
When I travel in major cities I tend to turn my radio to a channel that gives travel reports. They usually have a SKYWATCH posted around the city. This SKYWATCH sees and knows things that the average traveller does not know. Even so, God knows things that we humans do not know. He sees things that we humans do not see. He has a different perspective.
A friend of mine told me of losing a sister. He said during that difficult time an encouraging thought sustained him. He said he anticipates a special concept about Heaven. He said he believes God will reveal to us a room that contains an understanding of all things that were confusing in this life. He said even painful things will make sense to us when we receive this revelation. Paul said "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." (I Cor. 13:12)
Jesus sees life and death through the eyes of God’s sovereignty. In speaking of Lazarus death Jesus said "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it." (vs. 4)
The Old Testament character Joseph saw things from God’s perspective. His brothers sold him into slavery as if he were dead. He was mistreated in Egypt and abandoned by his brothers but he looked for God’s perspective. He saw that God was working things for the good of His people.
Perspective means a lot. Henry Van Dyke once wrote a poem about death that conveys the importance of perspective.
"I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then, someone at my side says: "There, she is gone!"
Gone from my sight. That is all.
She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: "Here she comes!" AND THAT IS DYING."
3. Jesus wants us to know that He loves us.
He loves us unconditionally. He loves us even when we doubt or dishonor Him. Thomas doubted Jesus but Jesus still believed in Thomas. Peter dishonored Jesus by denying Him but Jesus still believed in Him. Mary and Martha questioned Jesus absence (vs. 21 and 32) when their brother was sick. However, Jesus did not rebuke them for their doubts. He continued to love them.