Here is a message I recently shared at the funeral of a friend. The question I have to ask myself is, "Could my name be inserted here?" Likewise, the question for you is, "Could your name be inserted here?" Read this 10 minute message while inserting your name wherever you see the words "He/She", beginning with the title; "He/She" Got It!
Funeral Message – March 30, 2014
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
There are two things that I wish to make note of in this passage of Scripture. First is the way we ought to grieve and the second is those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
Let’s consider the second point first. Those who have fallen asleep in Jesus refers to those who have died after coming to faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Such is the case for "He/She". Having come into full agreement with God that he/she was a sinner and that he/she was in need of a Savior to save him/her from the wrath of God, "He/She" put his/her full trust in Jesus Christ and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.
Jesus Christ went to that cross and paid a debt that we could not pay and that He did not owe. His death satisfied the wrath of God as payment for our sin. His resurrection was a sign that the sacrifice was acceptable to the Father. Therefore, the Father turns His wrath aside for those who place their trust in the Son and rest wholly on His saving work of love.
Now we consider the first point, not grieving as those who have no hope. Apart from faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ, there is no hope of being spared the wrath of God. From where would one’s deliverance come? Who can save us from the very one who created us?
As believers, our hope, that is our confidence, comes from our faith. That is to say that our complete trust is placed in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, His resurrection to life, and His promise of eternal life for all who follow Him. We also place our trust in His promises, such as His promise to go and prepare a place for us and then to come again and call us to Himself.
Mourning and grieving are natural and good things. I believe that weeping is a gift from God as a means of cleansing our souls. It allows us to release anxiety and fear. It frees up our emotions rather than stuffing things down inside where bitterness and anger can grow. I suggest that you take a solid thirty to forty days of allowing yourself to mourn the loss of your loved one. In that time you ought to also draw close to God for comfort and to allow those tears of mourning to be transformed to tears of joy as you remember the good things and times. Do this also with the knowledge that as believers, we will be reunited one day with "He/She" in eternal life.
The shortest verse in the bible is John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” When we see that Jesus cried at the death of a friend, why wouldn't we? Here are the highlights of the story.
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.
This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.”
So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”
Some people got it, some didn't.
Jesus went on to call Lazarus out of the grave. The resurrection of Lazarus put the power of God on display. Again, some people got it, some didn't.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ again put the power of God on display. Once again, some people got it, some didn't.
Today we can rejoice and give thanks to God because "He/She" came to a knowledge and understanding of the power and salvation of God. "He/She" got it!
While Jesus was hanging on the cross, one of the two thieves that were also being crucified “got it”. Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Likewise, the day "He/She" drew his/her last breath in this mortal life, he/she went to be with the Lord in Paradise. His/Her last breath here, in this world, immediately preceded his next breath in eternity. He/She is now free from the curse of sin which included a breaking down body, suffering and disease. He/She is awaiting a reunion with fellow believers whether it is in our death or in the return of our Lord to call us home.
The Apostle Paul teaches this concept that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
While we can walk by faith, be of good courage and serve our Lord in whatever way He calls upon us to do so, it is still preferable to be at home with the Lord and free from the curse of sin. "He/She" has found the preferable place to be. He/She is there because of the grace and mercy of God. It is a free gift that "He/She" received from God. "He/She" received that gift of salvation simply because he/she believed God.
"He/She" came into full agreement with God that:
"He/She" got it!
"He/She" is in the preferable place.
"He/She" is awaiting the reunion to come, when those of us who believe join him/her in paradise with our Lord and God.
Do not grieve as those who have no hope.