Bernice Stohs Funeral (Jn 10:14–18, 27–30)

Photo by Jaka Škrlep on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

INI + AMEN.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

”I know them,” Jesus says. He can’t forget, won’t forget, doesn’t forget His own. They are His. He is theirs. That’s what He says in John 10. As Jesus promises through the prophet Isaiah, “I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.” Or more dear to you is the other promise He makes through Isaiah: “I have called you by name, you are mine.”

That’s Good Shepherd Jesus for you. You’re precious to Him. Is it for anything in you? No, not in you. It all flows from His abundant mercy and favor. His love for His Father and for you and other sinners drives Jesus to do what He does for His sheep. “I lay down My life for the sheep that I may take it up again.” He dies and rises for the sheep, runs headlong into disaster for them. Bearing their sin, their shame, their death, the attack of devil who wants to devour them. His death means their life. His coming back to life is their forgiveness and salvation.

How does He know them? “I call you by name.” He does it. He did for Bernice. He knows her. Knows her right now. In fact, now she fully knows Him—face to face—even as she was known to Him, even before the foundation of the world. He called her by name December 26, 1920 in the still waters of Holy Baptism. There with water and the Word and the Spirit Jesus named her. Giving her of His Name, along with the Father and the Spirit. He marked her as His own, eternally she has the Lord’s Name upon her: the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

With that name comes the promise of eternal life. Not just for Bernice but for you, too. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Through Holy Baptism, we all share in Christ’s death and resurrection, not just in the new life lived as faithful Christians, a life Bernice lived, but more importantly baptism means we share in Christ’s bodily resurrection to eternal life, which we and Bernice will share together on the Last Day. “They will never perish,” Jesus says.

“I know them,” Jesus says. “My sheep hear My voice.” He speaks His Word to them. They hear Him. He continually delivers this Word. His Word in Scripture, in Absolution, in preaching, in the Supper of His body and blood, and in the forgiveness Christians share with each other. In many and various ways He comforts His sheep with the rod and staff of His Word. He leads them to the green pastures of forgiveness, and to the table of His body and blood that He prepares for them in the presence of sin and death.

By delivering His Word and Gifts over and over again Good Shepherd Jesus delivers His Name and His voice, His speaking mercy and forgiveness to His sheep, so that His voice fills the heart, soul, mind, and strength of His sheep. That’s what He did for Bernice. Does for you, too. Of the many gifts the Lord showered upon Bernice, the most precious was His voice. As a sheep she cherished His voice.

He never forgets His promises to His sheep. He never forgets what He says to them, what He says about them. They are His. He is theirs. The only thing He forgets about His sheep are their sins. The Lord Jesus, who knows everything, forgets: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” He doesn’t forget His promises, and doesn’t forget His sheep either. He died for them. Rose for them. Calls them each by name, to make them His, to make Himself theirs. He delivers His voice to them so that they would hear it and cherish it, be lead to eternal life, and be comforted by it. But if everything else would give way, the Lord’s promises never will, not ever.

“I know them,” Jesus says. Not “I knew them.” Or “I will know them.” No, “I know them,” Jesus says. And because He knows them, “they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” Nothing can. Not sickness, not a pandemic, not a stroke, not even death itself. No, Jesus’ nail-scarred hands prove that. He died and rose. He delivers that to His sheep. He gives them of His eternal life, and they will never perish. That’s His eternal promise to His sheep.

That’s His promise to you, a promise that Bernice is enjoying right now, “dwelling in the Lord’s house forever.” A promise that is sure and certain for all of you. Christ is risen from the dead. He took His life back again. He gives that empty tomb to you. Your grave will be empty someday, too. He will call your body from its grave. He will resurrect you on the Last Day even as He is resurrected from the dead. He will bring you to Himself, and we will forever be with the Lord—body and soul—to live with Him forever in His and His Father’s Kingdom, which has no end. The eternal wedding celebration of Christ, the Lamb, is the Gift of life that the Spirit, who was given as a downpayment in your Baptism, will gift you on the Last Day.

((Conclusion.))

”I know them,” Jesus says. He can’t forget, won’t forget, doesn’t forget His own. That’s Good Shepherd Jesus for you. He knows them by name—you and Bernice by name. He gave you of His name in Holy Baptism: “baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” ”I know them,” Jesus says. So He delivers His Word to His Sheep, to you. ”I know them,” Jesus says. Right now He does. He always knows you, and so nothing can snatch you from His nail-scarred hands. ”I know them.” “I know you,” Jesus says. You are His; He is yours. His Word and Gifts—His voice—makes sure you are His Sheep and receive that eternal promise, so that you would rise from the dead and dwell in His house forever.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

INI + AMEN.

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