Summary: In death we rest with the assurance that our Lord will stay with us when we pass and with our loved one’s still on earth.
Stay With Us
(Spouse’s name), it was but about 3 weeks ago that I first shared this story of our Lord’s resurrection with you and (name). We sat at your kitchen table and I read from a pamphlet like this one here as it recounted how two disciples of Jesus bid a friend to tarry awhile, to remain in their company. They asked him; perhaps out of a bit out of sorrow and fear, perhaps our of a bit out of comfort and new found joy; that he not leave them all alone, but instead that he remain here together with them.
It’s a wish that probably well describes some of the feelings in this house today. (name) was faithful wife, a loving mother and grandma, a good friend to all of you and the thought of life without her is not a pleasant one. We wish her back, not with the pains and uncertainties that the cancer brought; but with the smiles and reassurances she graced our lives with for the past 72 years. We wish her back for the hugs and kisses, for the warm heart and helping hands. We think, “Stay with us, (name). Stay for the companionship and care, for your kind words and the comfort of your enduring faithfulness and love. Stay with us just a little while more.”
It’s exactly what the two disciples were thinking in the text. All along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus this man had built them up in the word, comforted them with the promises of God and instructed them with regards to the truth of God’s plan. Now, even though they had just met a few hours before, they couldn’t bear the thought of being separated. There was a certain closeness that they felt and didn’t want to end.
And the two disciples were about to find out why. As they sat down at the supper table they asked their new found friend to bless their meal and something truly remarkable took place. He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them; when suddenly, miraculously their eyes were opened and they recognized him before he disappeared from their sight. They then looked up at one another and asked, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" It’s as if they said to one another, “It was so obvious, we should have seen it.” It was Jesus who went to the cross according to God’s plan. It was Jesus who took on himself the sins of all mankind, who paid the price for our sins, just as the Scriptures he quoted had said he would. It was Jesus who was no longer dead, but raised so as to assure us who believe in Him that we are forgiven and gifted with eternal life with him in heaven.
It was Jesus and now the two men knew that they’d never be alone. He died their death on the cross, but he had risen. This one who had been with them on their journey to their earthly home was not dead and lifeless, uninterested in them and unable to save. He was alive. Jesus was alive and they knew that He would see them safely all the way to their heavenly home above. They knew that they’d never really be alone again, and we take comfort in knowing Jesus was there, walking hand in hand with (name) too.
He was there on the 1st of April, 1930 when (name) was adopted into the Lord’s family by the water and word of Holy Baptism. He was with her throughout her life, every time she sought first the kingdom of God and his righteousness with the assurance that everything else would be given her as was spoken over her head on the day of her confirmation. He was there every time she gathered with the people of God in His house; every time she opened up God’s word and sought His comforting peace; every time she called on Him in prayer. And I have the utmost confidence that He was with her again that past Monday night, and that by faith in Jesus as her Lord and Savior, she took his hand and walked forgiven and fully restored into heaven where the two will never be apart. He was there and He always will be; as He always has been and always would be for you and me.
These two disciples, they were in our shoes. They were among the grieving, among those who were left behind, just as we are today. That would not change after this day. But something did. Listen to what happened. Jesus, once again was gone. “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." The two were giddy with excitement. They knew their friend and savior was not dead. They also knew that no matter what challenges lay ahead in the wake of his return to heaven, they wouldn’t have to face them on their strength alone. And that promise is ours as well.