Funeral Sermon For Mike Toth / Friday October 27th 2017
Funeral Sermon for Mike Toth / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted Giese / Friday October 27th 2017: Season of Pentecost / John 14:1-7 "I go to prepare a place for you – a Custom Home in Christ"
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Jesus said to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” For centuries the church has talked about Jesus and His adoptive father Joseph being carpenters. More recently that view of them being carpenters has expanded to thinking of them not only as wood workers but as contractors and builders. So when Jesus says, “In My Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” The first thing to remember is that the Father Jesus is speaking of is not His earthly adoptive father Joseph who became the husband of the Virgin Mary Jesus’ mother who had conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit but rather Jesus is speaking of His heavenly Father, God the Father; the second thing to remember is that the Jesus who says this as one who worked in a family business of carpentry and construction and as such He would know a thing or two about building a house.
Mike, as you know, was involved in real estate for 40 year and for a good number of those years he would sit down with people to help them custom order homes. He would take them through all the features from countertops to utility rooms. Helping them see the details that they didn’t even know they wanted, assuring that they would have a fine home for themselves and for their family. He was an instrumental part in the preparations that were necessary to provide the house; Mike’s work was there before the builder and the workers measured twice, before they cut once, before the hammer began to swing, before the nails were driven home to make the home.
When Jesus says to His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you” Jesus is both talking about what would follow the next day on that first Good Friday and about what would follow in His Ascension following His Resurrection when He would return to His heavenly Father to sit at His Father’s Right Hand. In preparation for His crucifixion some unknown carpenter cut the wooden beams used for Jesus’ cross, and even though it was a Roman soldier and not a carpenter who swung the hammer that nailed Jesus to the cross each nail which pinned Jesus there was swung to build a heavenly home for Mike, for you, for me. From Scripture we are told that Jesus was obedient to the blueprint of Salvation drawn up by Himself and God the Father, that Jesus the Son of God, “being found in human form, humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” While He didn’t swing the hammer Himself Scripture tells us that it was Jesus Himself in His humility and obedience who canceled “the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside,” St. Paul says in Colossians 2, “nailing it to the cross.” Nailing our sins to the cross, nailing all of Mike’s sins, all of your sins, all of my sins, every sin that would keep us from Eternal Life in Jesus’ Father’s House. Every sin nailed there to die there.
With the framing in place, with the house prepared Jesus then, by His death, Jesus in His resurrection, goes to prepare a place for you in His Father’s House. You do not build the house for yourself. Jesus built it for you. "It is finished." Mike doesn’t build it for himself by his own merits or works; it is built for Him by the faultless merits and works of Jesus. "It is finished." The house is a gift. Mortgage free: paid for, “not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.”
The night before His crucifixion Jesus says to His disciples, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” With these words you have the promise of Jesus Himself that in your death - for all those who have their faith in Him - Jesus Himself will come and take you to Himself. This promise is yours, this promise was Mike’s. Jesus made this promise to Mike in Mike’s baptism. St. Paul in his letter to the early Roman Christians says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into [Jesus’] death? We were buried therefore with [Jesus] by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with [Jesus] in a resurrection like His.” St. Paul continues to say, “We know that our old self was crucified with [Jesus] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with [Christ Jesus].” And so it is that Jesus promises you and I and Mike that He will come again at the time of your death and that He will, at that time, take you to Himself, that where He is you may be also. To that end all who die with their faith in Jesus are described as having their life hidden away with Christ Jesus in God, so that “when Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with [Christ Jesus] in glory.” Like the hymn we sung at the beginning of our Service today, “Rock of Ages cleft for me let me hide myself in Thee.”
Over and over again Scripture talks like this, that Eternal Life is a gift. In Ephesians 2 St. Paul assures us that it is “by grace [that] you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” And keeping with the theme of building and construction Paul continues to say, “For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
What does this mean? It means that Salvation and Eternal Life are like walking up to a par-5 hole on a Golf Course and before you can swing your club Jesus intercedes and swings it for you and you stand there and watch the ball as it goes and goes and goes and to your shock and amazement it’s a hole-in-one. And that hole-in-one is written on your scorecard, that signal perfect golf stroke is yours even though you didn’t swing the club. It is in fact the only stroke that counts, the only one that counts on the whole scorecard. It also means that on your last day when you die in Christ and He comes to take you to Himself, even though you didn’t swing the hammer, you will walk into the Father’s House in heaven and find your room and it will be perfectly prepared for you, with every detail taken care of. Mike will see the details that he didn’t even know he wanted, all prepared in advance for him, ready for his arrival, paid for by the blood of Christ Jesus. Prepared by Jesus who clearly states that He, and He alone, is, “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him].” Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Philippians 2:8
 Colossians 2:14
 John 19:30
 1 Peter 1:18-19
 Romans 6:3-8
 Colossians 3:3-4
 Ephesians 2:8-10