Summary: This funeral sermon is based on the story of the widow of Nain and the promsises of Jesus to enable us to live without fear because He has conquered death and freed us from Satan’s grip of fear.
In Jesus Holy Name February 15, 2007
“The Promised Resurrection”
In our liturgy for today we spoke the words of Jesus as recorded by the apostle John: “Jesus said, do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am.”
Note the promise of Jesus. “I will come back and take you to be with me.” He pledges to come and take us to our eternal home in heaven. He does not delegate this task. He may send missionaries to teach you, angels to protect you, teachers to guide you, singers to inspire you, and physicians to heal you, but he sends no one to take you home. He is our personal Savior. That’s why the Psalmist can offer these words of hope: “Yea, though I walk though the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me.”
Would God, our Father and creator, who loves us require his children to journey to eternity alone? Absolutely not!
He is always with us. “God is our refuge and strength and ever present help in trouble….. if the earth gives way I will not be afraid. For the Lord Almighty is with us.” (Ps. 46)
Jesus offers hope even in the face of death. The post modern society in which we live offers not hope beyond this earthly life. When our heart ceases to beat and our brain waves are silent….what lies beyond the portal at the moment of death? Some in our culture would like to convince themselves that this present life is all there is… but in reality there are few of those people. Most people try to invent their own version of God or mix a little Christian hope with their own version of what is acceptable, for they are still in the grip of the fear of death. Death can not forever be denied. The death of a loved one, a mother, a friend brings us together.
Death seems so final…but it is not.
The gospel of John tells us that one day Jesus and his disciples came to the village of Main. As they approached the town gate they met a funeral procession. A dead person was being carried to the cemetery. The only son of his mother, who had already lost her husband to the final grip of death.
Jesus told her, “Don’t cry.” ….What kind of request is that? Only one that God can make. He then steps over and touches the coffin. Those who carry it stand still. No one spoke. What could they say? Someday it will be me. Jesus knew what to say. He glared at the angel of death. The people in the funeral procession were his prisoners. He relished their fear.
The angel of death didn’t see what the mourners saw. He didn’t see Jesus of Nazareth. He saw the wrath of God. Then he heard the voice. That voice…he knew the owner. Jesus spoke: “Young man, I say to you get up!” The living stood motionless. Gray pale cheeks blushed. His heart began to beat. His brain came alive. The dead man sat up. He spoke. All who saw it were amazed.
Death seems so final…. It is not.
Many people in our culture are afraid of what lies beyond death’s door. And rightly so.
Death comes. It is part of the natural law of nature established by God when Adam and Eve sinned. We all have sinned. Sin always alienates us from one another and from God. But God did not leave Adam and Eve nor us without hope.
From the beginning of time God demonstrated his care for we, the human beings, he created. He knew Satan would challenge every person with the fear of what lies beyond death’s portal. Satan allows people to acknowledge some from of spirituality, seeking to overcome the fear of death, but always never quite sure. God’s plan was to destroy Satan’s grip on the human soul.
In the book of Hebrews we find this words: “Since we have flesh and blood, (God) chose to come to earth and share our humanity.” His name was Jesus. “so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is the devil and free those who all theirs were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)
Jesus died, but death did not have the final world. The grave, the stone, the Roman seal, the Roman guard, could not keep Jesus dead. He rose from death by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because Jesus conquered death, the consequence of sin, all who believe in Jesus will also rise from their graves as well.