Blog / Book of the Month / Malcolm Floyd Bloos Funeral Sermon - John 20:19–31 March 11th 2022 / That you may believe

Malcolm Floyd Bloos Funeral Sermon - John 20:19–31 March 11th 2022 / That you may believe

Malcolm Floyd Bloos Funeral Sermon - John 20:19–31 March 11th 2022 / That you may believe

Malcolm Floyd Bloos Funeral Sermon / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Friday March 11th 2022: Season of Lent / John 20:19–31 "That you may believe"

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When Jesus had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into His side, I will never believe.”

Eight days later, His disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He 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.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.

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 and family of Malcolm Bloos. Cancer is a wicked beast and it has robed you of Malcolm. A father and mother should not have to bury their son. A wife shouldn’t have to bury their husband so soon in life, children, sister and brothers, the whole family and friends have been cheated by death. While Malcolm was sick his death came on so fast and unexpectedly in these last weeks that it’s still hard to process what just happened. Malcolm however had some idea his time was coming and because he did, he took care of things, set up in advance some stability, as best as he could, for Jackie his wife. Now Malcolm was not Jesus he was a sinner like you and me but there are some things about his death that are similar to Jesus’ death and because of Malcolm’s baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection he has the promise of eternal life and Jesus makes good on His promises.  

Right now in the Church we are in the Season of Lent a time of repentance and focused devotion where we zero in on Jesus’ path to the cross of His crucifixion and Good Friday. We think about Jesus’ suffering and death, we even think about the details of it. In Holy Week we start the week off with a bang! The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with the crowd cheering Him on where He rides His donkey to the Temple and clears out the moneychangers who were selling animals for sacrifice exactly where that sort of thing shouldn’t be happening. I mention this because Jesus was riding high He’d just raised Lazarus from the dead,[1] He’s cleared the money changers out of the Temple, everything was going well, the crowds are cheering Him on, yes He had his prognosis (that the chief priests and the scribes and the Pharisees and the Elders of the People would reject Him, that He must suffer and be killed)[2] but surely that wouldn’t happen right then when everything seemed to be going so well, all things considered. Yet it was just one week from that Triumphal Entry that Jesus was taken from them, beaten to a pulp, crucified, dead and buried. When Malcolm was admitted to the hospital at first you guys didn’t expect that he would die so soon, so quickly. For the most part Jesus’ disciples didn’t expect this turn of events either. Thomas, however, sort of thought it might happen: When Jesus had said they were heading back to the Jerusalem area Saint Thomas said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”[3]

When Jesus was crucified Thomas didn’t die with Him, neither did James or John or Peter or any of the other disciples. Saint John the writer of our Gospel reading today was at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother the Virgin Mary and together they were there when Jesus died. Jesus was not alone in that moment, they were there. It is a blessing to have family and friends around you when you die and thankfully Malcolm had this too. I mentioned how Malcolm had prepared to take care for his wife Jackie; remember from the cross Jesus had also prepared to take care of His mother Mary, John tells us how it was that “when Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple [John] took [Jesus’ Mother the Virgin Mary] to his own home.”[4]

Crucifixion and the sort of lung related cancer Malcolm experienced share some things in common. The thing about crucifixion is that thing that kills a person is a combination of exhaustion and suffocation. At the end the person just can’t breathe. Nailed to the cross and hung there in that way with no way to hang onto anything, the body slumping down on its own weight, the lungs can’t get breath properly and minuet by minuet, hour by hour, less and less air can be taken in and it becomes a struggle to breath and struggles to speak. With the rapid advancement of Malcolm’s cancer, even doubling in size over one night, he experiences the suffocating lose of breathe, which made it hard to breath, hard to speak. While not beaten to a pulp, crowned with thorn and nailed to the wooden beams of the cross Malcolm and Jesus still shared in this suffocating lose of breathe. And you who were there have something in common with the Virgin Mary and Saint John and those other folks who stood nearby. You watched and kept vigil with Malcolm just as they did with Jesus. The feelings of being cheated, the anger, the sorrow, the confusion you felt, that you feel, they would have felt also. The prayers, the hope you clung to they would have clung to as well.  

It’s a long way to go but this brings us to our Gospel reading for today. When Saint John says, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week,” that was the first Easter Sunday. That was just three days after Jesus’ death and with the doors locked - for fear that they too would be rounded up and crucified - they sat there unsure what to do. They had heard that the tomb where Jesus was buried was empty, something Peter and John had verified for themselves that morning and there had already been a couple reports that people had seen Jesus in the flesh risen from the dead but this was something they had not witnessed for themselves. That’s when, with the doors locked, “Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” [And] when Jesus had said this, He showed them His hands and His side.” Dear ones Jesus is the first fruits of the Resurrection that all Christian will share in on The Last Day.[5]

The disciples didn’t have long to wait to see Jesus in the flesh following His death, Thomas of course had to wait another week, we have more than three days, more than a week to see Malcolm in the flesh just as we, as far as we know, have longer yet to wait to see Jesus in the flesh. But this is the promise that we recited at the beginning of our service, that we will eventually see Jesus face to face, that we will see Malcolm and those who died with their faith in Jesus face to face on That Day: “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.”[6] And more than that, “if we have died with Christ [Jesus], we believe that we will also live with Him.”[7] With confidence we can say that Malcolm lives with Christ Jesus. Wherever Jesus goes there Malcolm is too, along with all the faithfully departed. This is not Malcolm’s doing it is the work of Christ Jesus who prepared a place for us in His Father’s house[8] through His death upon that old rugged cross where His shed blood pardons all sin and makes us holy.

This promised resurrection from the dead is not always easy to believe, there are times when we like Saint Thomas says ‘I won’t believe it until I can see it, until I can touch it!’ We have a hymn about this struggle:[9]

1           These things did Thomas count as real:
The warmth of blood, the chill of steel,
The grain of wood, the heft of stone,
The last frail twitch of flesh and bone.

2           The vision of his skeptic mind
Was keen enough to make him blind
To any unexpected act
Too large for his small world of fact.

3           His reasoned certainties denied
That one could live when one had died,
Until his fingers read like braille
The markings of the spear and nail.

4           May we, O God, by grace believe
And thus the risen Christ receive,
Whose raw imprinted palms reached out
And beckoned Thomas from his doubt.

Dear ones in the letter to the Hebrews we are taught that, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”[10] In the end we are here today because Malcolm had that faith: Faith in Christ Jesus. This gift that God gave Malcolm in Christ Jesus, God extends to you as well, for those of you who have it, fight the good fight keep the faith;[11] for those of you who receive it today by hearing the Word of God read to you, preached to you,[12] be baptised. This is the path to the happy reunion that Jesus paves for you in His life, death, resurrection and ascension, the path by which you will see Malcolm again in the flesh made new by Jesus who makes all things new.[13] And in that resurrection Malcolm will never suffer the effects of cancer or any other illness ever again. He is with Christ now and Christ Jesus promises to be with you always to the end of the age.[14] In The End it is Life that cheats death, all will be set right.  

So how does Saint John end our Gospel reading today? He writes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. 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.

[1] John 11
[2] Mark 8:31
[3] John 11:16
[4] John 19:26–27
[5] 1 Corinthians 15:20
[6] Romans 6:5
[7] Romans 6:8
[8] John 14:2-3
[9] These Things Did Thomas Count as Real, Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, #472
[10] Hebrews 11:1
[11] 2 Timothy 4:7
[12] Romans 10:17
[13] Revelation 21:5
[14] Matthew 28:20

Photo Credits: Main Photo provided by family and Mount Olive Lutheran Church; Detail from photo collage displayed the day of the service; Malcolm’s gear photo taken from display at Church taken by Pr. Ted Giese; Body of Christ from pexels; Man in prayer from pexels; Jesus on the cross from pexels; Jesus and St. Thomas closeup from Wikimedia.