Funeral Sermon For Frank Wagner / Wednesday October 14th 2015
Funeral Sermon for Frank Wagner, October 14th 2015 - Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / (John 14:1-7 ESV)
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. Thomas and the other disciples were with Jesus the Thursday night before the day we call Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified, the day Jesus died. The Gospel reading we heard this morning from John 14 is part of Jesus' conversation with them on that Thursday Night. Jesus knows that in just a couple hours He will be arrested on false trumped up charges and that within 24 hours He'll be dead. He knows something that Thomas and the rest of the disciples don't know.
The disciples had been with Jesus every day for three years and Jesus had never "gone away" from them for anything more than a couple hours, to pray, and He always returned. So when Jesus tells them, "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,” it's only natural that Thomas should ask, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” You are going away to the Father? How can we follow you to Him if we don't know the way? This is a reasonable line of questioning from Thomas and the disciples.
John the disciple, one of the twelve disciples, wrote all of this down for you, so that you as a Christian can know the whole account of what happened. At the cross Jesus did "go away" when He died there, but three days later He rose from the dead and returned to them. One week later, after spending time with the other disciples, Jesus saw Thomas and pointing to the nail holes and the wound in His side that He'd received at His crucifixion Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Frank is one of those people, Frank believed in Jesus, and because the disciple John wrote down Jesus' words, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Frank knew and believed that Jesus is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. Frank knew and believed that no one comes to the Father except through Jesus.
40 days after Jesus' resurrection, after spending time with the remaining disciples, after appearing to more than five hundred brothers at one time, after appearing to James, then to all the apostles, after all that Jesus went away again ascending into heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. On that day, on the day of the Ascension, just before He left, Jesus said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This is the Jesus that Frank believed in, the Jesus that Frank confessed to be faithful and true in the Creeds of the Church. From His baptism in 1927 to this very moment, and forevermore Jesus has been, is, and ever shall be with Frank. We don't always think of Jesus being there at the moment of a person's death, but for the Christian we know this to be true because Jesus promises to be there, remember Jesus says, "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."
Dear Christian, hear these words: Jesus is with you in the best of times and in the worst of times, He is with you even at the moment of death, and He is one who experienced death Himself, Jesus drank the cup of death, He drank every last drop so that you will have life, so that you will have life in Him and have life to the full. As Jesus went to the cross, He went there to prepare a place for you, a place for Frank. With the wooden beams, with the nails Jesus renovated your life, took away your sin, and secured a room for you in Heaven. This is Jesus' labour of love for you, His heavy labour, His hard work, that you would find rest in Him. Jesus makes this invitation to you when He says, "Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Rest for your body, "rest for your souls."
Frank worked on the farm, worked on other peoples farms, worked in the mill, worked at driving a school bus, worked around the yard worked around the house; his house, other people's houses, his next door neighbours house: labouring away at things even in these last years in his garden, putting up Christmas lights - Frank did all these things and his labours were welcome, and well received, and in Jesus Frank found his rest. Frank now rests in peace in Christ Jesus. This rest is not only for Frank it is for you, it is for all people who have their faith in Jesus.
Two interesting things were going on last Thursday. 1) Frank had photos of family laid out on his dresser, photos from the past - and more recent photos (Did Frank know something was up?) He didn't always have pictures laid out like that, clearly Frank was thinking of Ruth, thinking of you, thinking of family. As Christians we look forward to the happy reunion that takes place when we are gathered together in Christ Jesus, that Thursday Frank went to that Happy Reunion. 2) Frank was having his kitchen renovated, the drywall was all done the painter was there, Frank was excited to see the room renovated, to see it finished, all the labour and work to prepare its completion was almost done. (Did Frank know something was up?) 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? 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." The finished room that Frank saw Thursday was not his kitchen, in Christ the room Frank saw was the one Jesus had prepared for Him.
Did Frank know that Thursday was going to be his day? We'll have to ask Frank later, when we too enter into that Happy Reunion in Christ Jesus, in Jesus' Father's House, in the House that is now Frank's House, the House that is your House. What we do know today is that Frank believed in God the Father and Frank believed in Jesus, Frank trusted his baptism, He trusted the Holy Spirit. Psalm 116 says "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints." While this was unexpected for us - that doesn't mean that Frank was unprepared for it. Trust in Jesus and you need not live the rest of your life unprepared. Work hard, labour hard for those you love, for everyone around you, even for people you don't love, and find your rest in Jesus, who is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life." Remember Frank is with Jesus, and Jesus promises to be with you. In Christ you are not alone. 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.
 John 20:27-29
 1 Corinthians 15:6-7
 Matthew 28:18-20
 John 10:10
 Matthew 11:28
 Matthew 11:29
 Psalm 116:15