More / Book of the Month / Wayne Bjorndahl Funeral Sermon - John 5:2-24 November 17th 2022 / The Word of Jesus Loud and Clear

Wayne Bjorndahl Funeral Sermon - John 5:2-24 November 17th 2022 / The Word of Jesus Loud and Clear




Wayne Bjorndahl Funeral Sermon - John 5:2-24 November 17th 2022 / The Word of Jesus Loud and Clear

Wayne Bjorndahl Funeral Sermon / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Thursday November 17th 2022: Season of Pentecost / John 5:2–24 "The Word of Jesus Loud and Clear"

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of His own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing. And greater works than these will He show Him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father. Whoever does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

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 Wayne Bjorndahl. Now as you know in the days of our Gospel reading nearly 2,000 years ago there were no radio transmitters, no WiFi or fiber optic cables for internet signals, no Television broadcast signals of any kind and yet Jesus by healing the invalid by the Pool of Bethesda was broadcasting something very important: He was transmitting to the people of Jerusalem a signal that He was the only begotten Son of God, that as such He was in fact God in the flesh and Jesus caps this off by saying that He is not just one who can heal the physically sick but that He has the power to raise the dead, finally adding these words which were favourites of our dear Wayne, saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” Consider this Word of Jesus today and remember this was dear to Wayne, just as you are dear to him even now.

As Lutherans who hold Scripture in the highest of regard we seeks to understand what we read and hear by allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, that is to allow the full picture to come clear based on what else God’s Word has to say on the topic, as Saint Paul says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”[1] So, when Jesus says, “whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me,” we may suddenly have spring to mind Romans 10 where Saint Paul begins by saying, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ,” then continues by asking, “But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for, “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”[2] Just a couple verses before all this Saint Paul asks, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”[3] The invalid by the Pool of Bethesda did not at first recognize the feet that walked up to him that day, the invalid didn’t know who He was that said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk,” and yet at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. He heard and he believed. The question Jesus had for the man was, “Do you want to be healed?” and because of our modern way of thinking of illnesses we tend to think only of the physical, perhaps a clearer interpretation of this question, that gets at the heart of what Jesus was asking, is this, “Do you want to become whole?”[4] This is why Jesus says to the man when He sees him later that day in the Temple “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” … When Jesus says, “whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me,” Jesus says that person, “has eternal life.”

Wayne was, and is, not alone in caring that people would hear Jesus’ Word, he trusted dearly in the centrality of God’s Word read, studied, preached, heard and sung to the glory of God because he knew that what Jesus promises here and elsewhere in Scripture is as true now as it was then. That in the life of the Christian hearing God’s Word, the reception of faith as a gift,[5] and believing as a result are paramount and that they are all so intertwined with the gracious working of The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart as not to be ignored. The eternal life delivered in Christ’s Word makes one whole, we may wait with patience for the final realization of this but that is exactly what is promised and Christ Jesus delivers on His promises. That which is present today in the urn, the remains of Wayne’s Body, on The Last Day, along with his mind and spirit, now at rest in Christ Jesus, will be made whole in the resurrection of the dead. “Do you want to become whole?”  

What is the impact of trusting this in the here and now? The one who believes this is called to share their time, talents and treasures in order that they would be able to hear this same Word of Jesus over and over again, to grow in this faith; but more than that to share their time, talents and treasures to help ensure that others likewise would hear this Word of Jesus too: so they also would believe in Christ Jesus. And whatever you’ve been gifted with in this regard it is like the hymn says, “If you cannot preach like Peter, If you cannot pray like Paul, You can tell the love of Jesus And say He died for all;”[6] so it is that each of us is called to bring what we have to this task, remembering what Scripture says, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver,”[7] and as you know Wayne was a kind, generous and cheerful giver of his time, talents and treasures. In fact one can easily say in his case that he brought not just his time, talents and treasures but also his considerable expertise.[8] A list of what Wayne was able to bring to bear to help share the good news of the Gospel, that Word of Jesus, with his accumulated knowledge and skills would be as long as my arm and longer — and you who know him, especially we here at Mount Olive, can attest to this — but he would not want that list read out today. A better thing to consider today is, ‘What out of gratitude for this very same Word of Jesus can I provide to ensure that the Word of Jesus will be there for those who need it this day and tomorrow and in the days to come?’

We who believe in Christ Jesus carry that signal of God’s Word to the waiting world; we broadcast the good news of Jesus in what we say and do both inside and outside of our congregation; we desire to have that signal amplified in the World not jammed, we want it to cut through the static and be heard. Yet we live in a fallen World, so with all honesty this Gospel reading today includes the reality that not all will gladly receive Jesus and His Word but even still as Saint John later writes in His Gospel account after Jesus had faced death at the cross, died, and was risen that first Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we remember that, “these [things,] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”[9] So without fear of how that Word will be received we are all called to do our part to broadcast Jesus’ Good News loud and clear, to make sure there are places like Mount Olive where it is proclaimed, studied and preached.  

Which brings us to the last bit of this favourite passage loved by Wayne; where we hear how the one who has eternal life from Christ Jesus “does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” In Christ Jesus Wayne passed from death to life in His baptism,[10] he passed from death to life whenever he heard the Word of Jesus, he passed from death to life whenever he received Jesus’ body and blood in Holy Communion[11] and in his last moments Wayne passed from death to life as Christ Jesus took him to Himself,[12] and finally on The Last Day Wayne’s physical body will be made new,[13] and he will become whole, and on That Day Wayne will pass from death to life one last time. It is true that by the Law of God we in body, mind and spirit are judged and it is equally true that by the Gospel — the life, work and righteousness of Christ Jesus — our body, mind and spirit, indeed our whole self, our very soul, receives the gift of repentance and forgiveness and is justified before God the Father presented to Him by our redeemer Jesus Christ without blemish or spot. What did Jesus say in our Gospel reading today? “For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father.” So it is with Wayne; so it is, and will be, with you. “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom He will.”

That day by the Pool of Bethesda, that day in the Temple Jesus was broadcasting loud and clear, transmitting a signal to the whole city of Jerusalem and everyone in it, to all the people in Israel that He would not just be healing invalids, He would be forgiving sin and raising the dead. Later on, only days before that first Holy Week, in the village of Bethany just outside Jerusalem Jesus would raise His friend Lazarus from the dead,[14] this so infuriated His enemies that they again plotted to kill Jesus[15] and by the end of that first Holy Week on Easter Sunday the plot of His enemies was foiled and Jesus Himself was raised from the dead fulfilling what Jesus confessed about Himself in the Gospel of John, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.”[16]

Days like these are opportunities to think about these big questions of life and death and faith, opportunities to hear the Word of Jesus and contemplate them, to cut through the jamming of the signal, the static of our daily life and hear for ourselves what Jesus is broadcasting loud and clear about Himself and what that means for each of us. For his part Wayne has occasioned your being here today to hear Jesus’ Word, listen carefully this Word is for you: Jesus says to you today, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” My prayer is that this Word of Jesus will be as dear to you as it was to Wayne, that you will hear this Word of Jesus loud and clear and believe it. 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] 2 Timothy 3:16–17
[2] Romans 10:17–18
[3] Romans 10:14–15
[4] William C. Weinrich, John 1:1-7:1 Concordia Commentary, Concordia Publishing House 2015, Pg 561.  
[5] Ephesians 2:8-10
[6] There Is a Balm in Gilead, Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House 2006, Stanza 2 #749.
[7] 2 Corinthians 9:7
[8] Wayne worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation / Radio Canada, including fifteen years at the CBK Radio transmitter in Watrous. Wayne’s work took him to Moose Jaw, the centre of CBC’s Television department at the time, and then to Regina where he assisted with the design and development of the Broadcast Centre on Broad Street and held responsibility for radio and television transmitters for the entire province of Saskatchewan, English and French.
[9] John 20:31
[10] Romans 6:3-11
[11] “These words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.” Sacrament of the Altar, Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2017, Pg. 29.
[12] John 14:2-3
[13] Revelation 21:5
[14] John 11:1-44
[15] John 11:45-57
[16] John 10:17–18

Photo Credits: Main Photo provided by the family and Mount Olive Lutheran Church; detail of Photo Car Radio Dial from pexels; detail of Stained Glass Window of Jesus at the Pool of Bethesda from wikimedia commons; detail of Helping Hand from pexels; detail of Sound Board from pexels; baptism from schultzphotographic; Radio Mic from unsplash; Jesus Sidewalk Chalk Artist from unsplash.    


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