More / Book of the Month / Funeral Sermon for John Heuchert / Friday June 7th 2013

Funeral Sermon for John Heuchert / Friday June 7th 2013

Funeral Sermon for John Heuchert / Friday June 7th 2013


Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Friday June 7th 2013: Season of Pentecost, Funeral Sermon for John Heuchert. John 11:17-27 ESV 


Now when Jesus came, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 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. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from 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. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”


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. The last stanza of the hymn Jesus, Grant That Balm of Healing has these words, “O my God, my Rock and Tower grant that in Your death I trust, knowing death has lost its power since you crushed it in the dust. Saviour let Your agony ever help and comfort me; when I die be my protection, light and life and resurrection.”[1] Jesus says 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. Do you believe this?” Jesus had yet to go to the cross at that point, the raising of Martha  brother Lazarus from the dead happened in the course of the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. So when Jesus asked Martha if she believed that He was the resurrection and the life, when He asked her if she believed that everyone who lives and believes in Him, in Jesus, shall never die, she could only say “Yes, Lord;” by faith, she couldn’t say it by sight, she could by faith only confess, “I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”


Faith, my dear friends, is an essential thing, a gift from God: We receive it when the promised Holy Spirit works in us, Saint Paul says that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”[2] The Holy Spirit works though the public reading of the Holy Scriptures, and through the preaching of the church and through encouragement given, hymns sung and prayers prayed, The Holy Spirit works through the confession of the faith as the faith is detailed in the creeds[3] and the Holy Spirit works through Baptism. “[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy,” Saint Paul continues to say in his letter to young Titus that this salvation comes personally to us, “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by [God’s] grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”[4]


John was given “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” in 1932 in his baptism, and through his life, he was dedicated and diligent about platting himself in the one place where he could be sure that he would hear the word of Christ, the one place where he knew the Holy Spirit would continue to strengthen his faith: Regular Sunday attendance was an important part of his life and while he wouldn’t force anyone to do the same, he encouraged it always by his own personal example. For in his persistence, in this regard, John made sure that he regularly stood on his own two feet and confessed the Creeds of the church, knowing the promise that Saint Paul makes in his letter to the Christians in Roman, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”[5]


All of this was a simple part of his life, John enjoyed keeping things simple, church on Sunday; coffee with friends, work hard; time with the family, simple. His faith was a part of this simple approach to life, it too need not be complicated, trust in the LORD, trust in His Word: Trust in the gifts He gives. Trust in your baptism, trust in the Lord’s Supper; Jesus says “I Am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”[6] “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”[7] John listened regularly to the voice of the Good Shepherd; When Jesus says “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. Do you believe this?” John would get up Sunday Morning, come into the church here at Mount Olive, and say “Yes, Lord; I believe,” John would confess the Creeds of the church and say “Yes, Lord; I believe,” John would kneel at the communion rail and receive the Body and Blood of the crucified and risen LORD Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins, and in humility say “Yes, Lord; I believe.”


What do you believe? We all have memories of John, for some he is our grandfather, for others he is father, brother, husband, uncle: friend. Today we ask ourselves ‘do I believe what John believes?’ When Jesus says, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life” the question is directed not just at Martha, not just at John here, the question Jesus asks if for you, Jesus reaches across the expanse of time from the pages of the Bible and asks you, “Do you believe this?” What do you say in your heart? What do you say with your lips? Jesus is the One who knows you, fear not, for not a one of us is perfect in this regard, take heart, for if your trust has wavered, if you’ve not been diligent in your faith, if you’ve faltered in any way, there is always forgiveness in Christ Jesus. If you need to be built up, if you need to find strength, take John’s lead and follow his example. Make it a personal mark of your faith to diligently come to God’s House to hear His Word, and receive the gifts God has for you here in this place, doing this faithfully will not disappoint. It is the medicine that binds up the broken heart; that heals the wounded soul; that gives you courage to press on toward glory. If life has become too complicated, too hectic, if life is too much; remember you can keep it simple: Trust Jesus, and from this simple trust, you too can grow in your faith and be nourished by God in Christ Jesus.   


I was honoured to share a time with John at the Pasqua Hospital on Sunday May 26th, we remembered our baptism,[8] we read from Revelation Chapter 21,[9] we prayed together, we prayed the LORD’S Prayer,[10] we had Holy Communion together,[11] I anointed John with oil[12] and I blessed him with the promise of God’s love and protection.[13] John appreciated all of these things and cherished them. These gifts were for him that day, yet these gifts are for you too in Christ Jesus. John received them with joy, trusting that Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life, would do as He promises; that on the last day Jesus would “make all things new,”[14] that He would raise John up from the dead, body and soul reunited, transformed “to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables [Jesus] to subject all things to Himself.”[15] John trusted that in the hour of death Jesus would “come again and ... take [John] to [Himself], that where [Jesus is, John] may be also.”[16]


For John, Jesus was and is his God, his Rock and his Tower; John trusted in Jesus’ death and what that means for all people; John trusted that in Jesus’ crucifixion Jesus “crushed [death] in the dust.” John’s simple prayer can be your prayer also: Dearest Jesus “When I die be my protection: Light and Life and Resurrection. 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 Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.



[1] Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House, 2006. # 421 Jesus Grant that Balm of Healing. 

[2] Romans 10:17

[3] Apostles,’ Nicene, Athanasian Creeds.

[4] Titus 3:5-7

[5] Romans 10:9-10

[6] John 10:11

[7] John 10:27-28

[8] Matthew 28:19, “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

[9] Revelation 21:1-7 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

            And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I Am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”

[10] Matthew 6:8-15, “your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

[11] 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.”

[12] James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”

[13] Numbers 6:24-26 “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”

[14] Revelation 21:5

[15] Philippians 3:21

[16] John 14:3