Lessons: Psalm 23, Job 19:23-27, 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 11:17-27
Hymns: LSB 761, 575, 461
Dear family and friends of Fred: Grace mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
In our reading from John 11, Jesus declared to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Jesus said these words as Mary and Martha were grieving over the death of their brother, Lazarus, who had died four days earlier. Martha, filled with faith, spoke confidently despite her sorrow, saying, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” She also said, “Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” This reading is just a portion of what John 11 records concerning the death of Lazarus, our Lord’s compassion, and His power over death and the grave.
Jesus proved His divinity by raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus also demonstrated His humanity as He wept when He came into the presence of the crowd who were grieving Lazarus’s death. You see, Jesus is true God and true Man. He is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He came down from Heaven and was born of the Virgin Mary. He became Man. And now Jesus remains God and Man. He is our Lord who has power over all things—even death and the grave. He is the Christ, who was promised to the first sinners, Adam and Eve, to take away the sin of the world through His death and resurrection. He is the Son of God, who is begotten of His Father in eternity.
Our confident hope is not found in what we simply feel to be true. It is not found in fairy tales or cunningly devised fables. It is not found in the current trends of the day or modern thought. These are all fleeting, and quickly change.
If our confidence and hope were placed in subjective matters, how would we have hope when we are grieved by various trials? Look at what Job endured—the deaths of most of his farm animals, servants, and children—his “friends” falsely accused him—and he suffered physically. Yet Job could speak confidently, saying, “I know that my Redeemer lives… In my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:23-27). God certainly tested the genuineness of his faith, and Job was found praising and glorifying and honoring Jesus. Job had not yet seen Christ, but he loved Him. Job fulfilled what we heard Peter write. Job believed in Jesus and rejoiced in Christ and obtained the goal of his faith—the salvation of his body and soul.
For our confidence and hope are found in Christ Jesus, who died to take away the sin of the world and rose to grant us victory over death and the grave. Jesus is God. He is our Savior. He is our Redeemer who lives.
If Jesus has power to raise Lazarus from the dead after having been dead for four days, He has power to rise Himself. He has power to raise our loved ones who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
Life in this fallen world is filled with crosses and sorrows. There is sin all around us. We ourselves keep on sinning, which multiplies our hardships. We suffer from bodily pains and problems. We suffer from material loss and decay. And, of course, it is painful to be here to bury a loved one. Fred’s own death not only brings tears to our eyes, but we are reminded of other times we have had to bury loved ones.
All of this could lead to despair or a rejection of Christ and His grace. Let that not be so among you. Instead, draw near to your Good Shepherd who laid down His life for you. Know that Jesus has taken His life up again in His resurrection to lead you to the still waters and green pastures of Heaven.
You are not alone in your suffering. In the last chapter of 1 Peter, the Holy Spirit guided Peter to comfort us, writing, “the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:9-10).
God is faithful to you. He will never let you down. He uses all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).
Mary and Martha were filled with sorrow at the death of their brother Lazarus. Jesus came and stood in their midst with deep compassion. By raising Lazarus, Jesus showed death has no power over us. This same Jesus loves you and He is with you. He will guide you through the bitter trials of this life to Himself in Heaven. Therefore, cling to your Savior in faith—that where Jesus is, you may also go. God bless you, dear family and friends of Fred. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting. Amen.