Sermons

Funeral of Lois Prell (Jn 11:17–44)

November 30, 2015
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

“Jesus, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died,” the sisters mourned. We mourn too: “Why couldn’t you have healed her, Jesus?” “We would’ve had a little more time together, Jesus.” Maybe we try and console ourselves by thinking, “Well, Lois was blessed with a very long life.” “It was her time to go.” Or even darker thoughts: “Death is just a part of life.” All these thoughts are our thoughts, and I guess it’s natural for us to gravitate toward them, but in the beginning there was no sorrow, no sickness, no mourning, no sin, no death. “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” Death was brought about by Adam and Eve’s not heeding the Lord’s Word: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God created us to live and not die, and so whenever people die, and it doesn’t matter if they’re preborn, child, teenager, middle age, or 94 like Lois, it was not meant to be that way from the beginning. Even Lois, as old as she was, was far too young.

Yet, there’s death. We all will die. And today we see what the Christian faith is all about. It’s not about being a nice person, though, because of your faith, you will love your neighbor as yourself. It’s not about being for or against this or that political issue, even though you will stand by the unchanging Word of God. The Christian faith is the “What now?” when it comes to death. In the face of casket, at the open grave, what then? Where is our confidence? Our hope? Our joy in the midst of sadness? Our life in the midst of death? It’s Jesus. How could it not be Jesus? He lives. He died for all our sins on Calvary. He was dead and behold He lives forevermore. He holds the keys of death and hell. It’s what He tells Martha and Mary who mourn Lazarus, and it’s what He tells us who mourn Lois. It’s just as He says,

JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.

Even though Jesus tells us, “I Am the Resurrection and the Life”,

(I.) We still mourn.

It’s natural to mourn the death of a friend, a family member, someone we love. Even though we still have the confidence of the resurrection on the Last Day, we’re still sad now. We grieve. We cry. We mourn. We’re sad. But we don’t mourn without hope. St. Paul tells us, “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” Jesus died, He was buried, but He rose to life again on the third day. He was dead. He lives. His tomb is empty. One day, Lois’ grave and casket will be empty, Harold’s casket will be empty, yours, mine, they all will be burst open, and death will be destroyed forever. This is our hope and confidence because Jesus’ tomb is empty.

We still mourn. We mourn in hope. Even Jesus mourned! Jesus hates death. He hates what it did to His beloved Lazarus. What it did to his sisters, Mary and Martha. He hates what it does to all who mourn. You want proof that Jesus hates death? That He mourned? “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.” Jesus wept, and He knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead! We mourn believing, trusting that Jesus will raise Lois from the dead to eternal life. He will raise her and us all even as He is raised from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity.

In the face of death and in the midst of our mourning and sadness,

(II.) Jesus is still the resurrection and the life.

He is resurrection and life for Lois. He isn’t just resurrection and life now, but He was also resurrection and life during her lifetime. He brought His life and resurrection to her in the waters of Baptism. “Or,” as Paul says, “do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” Resurrection and life were given her in the Supper of Jesus’ body and blood. As He Himself says, “I am the bread of life…If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh…Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” These promises are for you and me too! Jesus is your resurrection and life. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” We, the baptized, are clothed with resurrection and life. Life that will not fade away. We’ve received the pledge of eternal life in the Supper: “This is My body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” And where there is the forgiveness of sins there is also eternal life. These are all the promises of Christ. We trust them. For He who gave them died and was alive again, just as He said. All His Words and Promises are cross-won and empty-tomb assured.

JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. Not just in the life to come, but even now. His Words and promises to you are certain. They were certain to Lois. Because of His promises made and delivered to you at font and altar, it will be for you as it happened for Lazarus. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” And He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

On the Last Day, Jesus, your Lord and God, will cry out once again, “Lois, come forth!” Her grave will open, and the Holy Spirit will fill her, bring her back to life, and she will come out. Jesus will tell His angels, “Loose her, and let her go.” Then she will live body and soul in the Father’s Kingdom forever. The same goes for you. The promises Jesus made to Lois He’s made to you too! JESUS IS THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. Yours now and forever.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

INI + AMEN.

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