Walter Sears’ Funeral (Jn 10:17–18, 25b–30)

November 2, 2017
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO


Jesus knows His sheep. He knows Walt. He knows you, too—each one of you. And Jesus isn’t the sort to know someone, and then not do anything about it when that person’s in trouble. So Jesus, God Almighty, Son of the Father, does something. He can’t not! That’s the sort of Jesus He is. Jesus does something for Walt and for all His sheep—for you, too!

So, what does Jesus do? Well, He “gives them eternal life.” He’s God Himself, one with the Father, and so He can do that sort of thing. What happens when Jesus gives eternal life to His sheep? It’s simple, but amazing, but, more importantly, it’s comforting, especially on a day like today. So, what happens?


((I. Jesus bends all of creation to make sure of it.))

That’s right: JESUS’ SHEEP NEVER PERISH. And He bends all of creation to make sure of it. Nothing will stop Jesus from making sure His sheep never perish, from making sure Walt will never perish.

Just think of it: God Himself moved all of human history so that He could be born for His sheep, so that He could die for all their sins, “laying down His life” for the sheep, so that He could come back to life, “taking His life up again” for the sheep. That’s what Jesus does for His sheep. That’s the “mission” He received from the Father.

That Jesus lived, died, and rose again “bears witness” to who Jesus is: Savior and God. Lots of people saw Him alive after He died, as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15. But the comfort for us today isn’t just that Jesus did those things. It’s that He does those things “for His sheep,” for Walt.

The Lord Jesus continually bent all creation to make sure Walt never perishes. He used creation to bring His eternal life to Walt. He maneuvered history to make sure Walt would receive it. And so Walt was washed in the “Water of Eternal Life.” In Holy Baptism, Jesus made Walt His sheep, and united Walt to His own death and resurrection.

But Jesus wasn’t done. Oh, no! Jesus isn’t a one and done sort of Shepherd. He kept using and bending history and creation to make sure His sheep, Walt, wouldn’t perish. Bread and wine would be used for Jesus’ purposes—to feed and nourish Walt with His body and blood, and there, would be, of course, (couldn’t be any other way!) a pastor to deliver that precious gift to Walt.

A pastor in the right place at the right time to give what Walt needed most: Jesus’ body and blood to strengthen Walt in both body and soul unto life everlasting. Yes, Walt received the Medicine of Immortality, the body and blood of Jesus. A sheep fed by the under shepherd of the true Good Shepherd, Jesus.

So we see that all creation, all history is used by Jesus to rescue His sheep, to save them, to save Walt, to make sure that he would receive eternal life. Because, after all, JESUS’ SHEEP NEVER PERISH. Jesus makes sure of that, and nothing in all creation will stop Him from doing it.

((II. Though they die, they live and will live.))

Now, maybe you’re thinking: “Ok, Pastor. You say that JESUS’ SHEEP NEVER PERISH, but Walt died.” Do we think that’s a problem for Jesus? He died and rose. He’s got what the Father’s got; He does what the Father does: “No one can snatch them from My hands.” So yes, Walt died, but he (a sheep) is always safe, eternally and forever safe in Jesus’ nail-scarred hands.

Jesus was dead, then He wasn’t. He’s the One who promises, “No one can snatch them from My hands.” So, no one, nothing can separate a sheep from Jesus—certainly not death. The fact that Jesus was dead and then not—and that for Walt—shows that death isn’t a problem for Jesus.

Not only that: “My sheep follow Me,” Jesus says. They follow wherever He goes. They follow Him through death, which is now the entrance to eternal rest with Jesus. But more importantly, the sheep not only lives now with Jesus, but the sheep will live, his body will live again on the Last Day. Just as Jesus was dead and risen, and the “sheep follow Him” so also the sheep will die but also rise again. Jesus will make sure of that.

We heard that in our Old Testament lesson: “Yahweh will swallow up…the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces.” That’s Jesus’ promise to His sheep, to Walt: “I give them eternal life.” Life from the dead sort of life. Life from the grave sort of life. After all, JESUS’ SHEEP NEVER PERISH. They may die, but not forever. They don’t perish. They live and will live.

Walt isn’t unique, well, he is to you. You knew him, loved him for all the ways that he’s Walt. He’s unique to Jesus, too—His dear sheep. Jesus knows him, and now Walt sees Jesus. But Walt’s not unique in that what Jesus does for Walt He does for you, too! All the same things He’s done for Walt, Jesus does for all His sheep—for you, too!

He bends all history and creation to His purposes. He’s God. He can do that sort of thing, after all. If that weren’t enough, He’s received that “mission” from the Father, too.

Jesus was born, lived, died, and came back to life FOR YOU, His sheep. He used the font, bringing you through the river of the water of life, so that you would be a pure and spotless lamb of God. His body and blood come to you, too. His Word (read, preached) echoes in your ears.

Jesus moved all history to bring you to this moment, to bring you to His Gifts. Because no matter what, not nothing, not no one will stop Jesus from giving eternal life to His sheep. It’s a life that endures past death, it’s a life from the dead.

It’s simple, but amazing, but, more importantly, it’s comforting, especially on a day like today.


That’s what Jesus does for His sheep, that is, for Walt, for each of you, too.


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