Rick Lissel Funeral Sermon - John 11:25–26 August 21st 2021 / The Resurrection and the Life
Rick Lissel Funeral Sermon - Mount Olive Lutheran Church - Graveside Funeral Sermon / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Saturday August 21st 2021: Season of Pentecost / John 11:25–26 "The Resurrection and the Life"
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?”
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. St. John one of Jesus’ disciples in His Gospel tell us how Jesus was friends with a little family: and in this family there was Mary and Martha and Lazarus. When Lazarus was sick they sent word to Jesus hopping that Jesus would come and heal their brother, but Jesus didn’t immediately come, why? First because He knew that whatever happened He was in control of it and second so people could see who Jesus truly was, is and ever shall be and finally to have faith in Him and Him alone. When Jesus arrived He had this short conversation with the sister Martha that leads to one of the short readings we heard this morning.
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.” [Then Jesus asks Martha,] “Do you believe this?” Days like today ask that same question. We gather here to settle Rick into his rest; we pray that Rick will rest in peace in Christ Jesus until Rick is risen on The Last Day.
When faced with Jesus, in the Word of God that we hear today, we are provided with this promise of the resurrection of the dead and we are being called to trust it, so the words, “Do you believe this?” are very important. Stretching back into the earliest parts of the Old Testament the faithful have believed that they, like we heard from Job, at the last will stand upon the earth resurrected, though they had long been dust, and in their own flesh see the very one who resurrected them from the dead, that they would see God for themselves with their own eyes. Martha already believed this, what Jesus was asking her was if she believed that He was God, He was asking her to confess whether she believed He was the Redeemer who will raise the dead on The Last Day. Martha answered, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
There are things you know to be true that in a challenging time become a challenge to believe, but just because a time is challenging and you struggle to believe, your feelings and emotions don’t change the truth. An apple tree doesn’t take your feelings or emotions into account when it blossoms and produces fruit it simply does as trees do and so it is with the truth. As baptised Christians, as ones who have heard God’s word and believed your faith is fixed on this Jesus as Rick’s faith was and is fixed on this same Jesus. We may struggle, especially in times of grief or loss, to keep our end of the bargain when it comes to faithfulness to Jesus and to His Word, but Jesus doesn’t fail in keeping up His end of the bargain when it comes to His faithfulness to us.
What does it mean for Rick and for you and I that he and you and me will be raised from the dead? This is the promise, what does it mean? What will it be like? In the Book of Revelation St. John writes, “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 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.”
Life with Christ after The Last Day of this world will be in a new world one that is restored and made perfect: A world where all things are made new in Christ Jesus. In death Rick is not losing the acreage he so longed to have for so many years, and only achieved in these last number of years, no, in the resurrection Rick is set back on his own two feet, his diabetes passed away with the former things of this world that troubled him and us, and in Christ Rick walks into a new acreage, a garden made for him and for you and for me. No more dialysis, no more trouble, just life in Christ Jesus. Death, pain, crying, morning tears all wiped away, all passed away. None of those things will ever interrupt tending to the corner of the garden prepared for Rick.
And heaven is not a place where you live alone, the baptised are all there and in Christ all the faithful are brought together. Again in the Book of Revelation St. John writes, “I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Then one of the elders addressed [St. John], saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Rick and all Christians with their faith in Jesus, all the faithful are in that uncountable number, including his mom Evelyn and people like St. John and Mary and Martha and Lazarus, including us. This is what Jesus promises, “Do you believe this?”
Back on the day when Jesus and Martha had their conversation Jesus did raise her brother Lazarus from the dead, you’d think this would make everyone happy. It didn’t. It certainly made Mary and Martha happy. There were men who were so angry at Jesus for doing it, men who hated Jesus so much, and could not stand that Jesus was over and over again proved to be God in the flesh, that they plotted to kill Lazarus and Jesus. Shortly after that Jesus was arrested and put on trial, beaten, publicly humiliated and nailed to the cross, and in His death there on the cross Jesus defeated death because three days later on that first Easter Sunday Jesus was risen from the dead and St. John saw this with his own two eyes. Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life, had defeated death not just for Lazarus and Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha but for Rick and for you and for me. On a day like today we are called to remember this, we are called to believe this, to put our hope and trust and faith in this promise of Christ Jesus. We do this looking ahead to a happy reunion, in an eternal life that will never end, that is physical in nature only all the toil, and sweat and tears that came with this life, all the pain and sorrow is passed away. Rick remains, the faithful remain, their troubles are passed away, and today Rick rests in peace with Christ Jesus in paradise awaiting the Last Day and the World to Come. 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 11:21–26
 Job 19:25–27
 John 11:27
 Revelation 21:1–2,4–6
 Revelation 7:9–14
 John 12:9–11