“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” – Job 19:25-26
Grace & peace to you from God Our Father & Christ Our Lord. Amen.
My friends, in a moment we will hear the obituary that summarizes Karl’s life read. Clearly, he was a man who led an impactful life. He obviously cared deeply for his family and community and church and worked hard and with great love and concern to take care of all these things. His life was a wonderful blessing through which love of Christ truly burned brightly. So, even though I was never personally privileged with the opportunity to meet Karl, I too share with you your grief over the loss of a beloved husband, father, and friend. I would like to express my personal condolences to you.
I say all that from my heart, but, to be frank, I could have communicated all that to you by sending a sympathy card. Since I never knew Karl, I am sure many of you are probably thinking what else can be said that will help. Coming from myself, I would agree with that sentiment. Nothing else I can say personally will change the reality of Karl’s death. But God has called me here today not simply to speak for myself, but to speak a Word for Him.
That’s why God has brought us to this place today. We gather together today in the name of Jesus Christ to hear a Word from Him who is the One who has authority over all things including death. I know that is not a very popular answer in today’s culture. Many people in our day and age will give a variety of other answers as to why we go to funerals. Some say that we are here to show honor and remember a person’s past significance. Others will say that we are here to help people start the greiving process; it’s a way to help them say goodbye & to begin to accept death’s reality
Now, it is true that the good memories and honor we will share about Karl do accomplish these things & the desire to provide comfort to those mourning is certainly well-intentioned. These things are all wonderful gifts from God through which He expresses His love and presence in our time of grief. But, if that is the only thing which gets spoken, then we miss out on the greatest gift that God wants us to receive which is His Son, the one who overcame death. You see, the Holy Spirit of God has gathered us here this day just to announce our Redeemer lives. Yes, Jesus Christ is alive!
Now you may be asking: That’s nice but what does that have to do with Karl? Well, to be frank, the fact that Jesus lives has everything to do with Karl. Indeed, it’s the only thing that matters to him now & it also means everything for you too!
We just heard what that “everything” was in the reading from God’s Word we just heard from the book of Job. God has said that on the Last Day, Jesus the Redeemer will come to Karl’s grave, speak a simple Word saying “get up”, and he will be raised out of the grave into the newness of life. God is not just promising some half-baked reincarnation either. God isn’t saying Karl’s soul will come back in an animal or a bug or even that he will become merely a ghostly spirit being hovering only in the clouds in the sky.
No, what God is promising is that those like Karl who have been baptized into Christ is a complete resurrection of the body. That is what God’s Word in our reading from Paul’s letter to the Phillipians has promised. There will be a complete resurrection of Karl. He will live again just as we have known him and seen him before but without the effects of sin that troubled him in this world. Yes, God has promised all this to Karl in His baptism and God is not a mere man who lies. So you can rest assured, God will not leave Karl to be forgotten in the dust and ashes of the grave but he will be raised to new life in an imperishable body because Jesus who is his Redeemer lives.
That’s the truth, my friends. The Lord created Karl, loved him from before the foundation of the world, and desired the very best for Him so He was not content to let death get the final say. God has promised that when the time is right for Karl, Jesus who has authority over all things will speak another Word, His final Word of His eternal life, that is stronger than death. At sound of His voice, the grave will be burst open & Karl’s body & soul will be reunited & will be free forever from illness, pain sadness & fear.
And so, today we gather here in this church to hear again glorious truth that our Redeemer Jesus Christ lives. Because Jesus is alive, He comes here to renew us even in our grief by speaking aloud the tremendous baptismal promise that He will never forget Karl or you in even in death. We come to receive once more the Holy Spirit of God who brings to us in the hearing of that Good News the gift of faith which allows us to hold to the truth of Christ’s promises that, against all visible appearances, death will not ever get the last word over Karl or you because God is alive & is with us always.
My friends, death does not end a person’s significance to God. So, while we may come to a funeral to remember a person’s past significance as they lived among us, we must also remember even more that God continues to love them and they continue to have present and future significance to Him. They or you are not swept aside by death and will never be forgotten by God. The Lord holds all of His sheep – both Karl and you – dearly in His everlasting arms forever in His glorious eternal Kingdom.
So yes, we do come today to grieve and receive comfort. But a Christian’s grief and comfort is different from the world’s. And, yes, in case you are wondering, you are a Christian because God has said again today that Jesus is your Redeemer too. God has promised you once more today that He has indeed chosen you to be His forgiven and beloved Child for all eternity. So our sadness as baptized children of God is the sadness of being apart from a loved one for only a brief time. It is not the world’s sadness of thinking that we will never see a person again. God has promised us that we will see Karl again so we never truly say a final goodbye. This is most certainly true because Jesus our Redeemer lives.
Now may Our Lord, the Living Word, the One who has chosen to present you holy & perfect before the Father on the Last Day, be with you always & give you His peace until that glorious day comes. Amen.