Lavonne Germeroth Funeral (Jn 11, 17–44)

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

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

What sort of friend is Jesus? Is it good to have Jesus as your friend? What good is it to trust in Jesus? When there’s suffering and death, these are the sorts of questions that come to mind.

Mary had these sorts of doubts about Jesus. “If you had been here my brother wouldn’t have died.” The people from Jerusalem did, too. “Couldn’t this guy who gave sight to the blind keep this man from dying.” Martha had faith at the start, but balked at the end: “Lord, by this time there’s an odor.”

When there’s suffering and death, we, too, have our doubts about the Lord. About the sort of “friend” Jesus happens to be. What sort of Lord, what sort of Savior is He? Does He abandon His friends their time of need. Does He just let them suffer, just let them die, just let them be on their own until some better promised future?

And do we just accept that that’s the way it is? With some sort of, “Well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles sort of attitude”? Are we just to harden our hearts to the inevitable? That’s what we try to do, and then we feel all mixed up and sad and helpless when someone dies. When someone dies, Mary’s complaint is our complaint. “‘Lord, if you’d been here they wouldn’t have died.’ If you were any sort of good Lord or good Friend, Jesus, then this wouldn’t have happened.”

But our greatest fear may be that that’s the way it’ll be for us when it’s our time to die. That we’ll be mixed up, sad, helpless, and alone. That we’ll suffer, and what will have to show for at the end of it? That death will just end the pain, the sickness? Is that our only comfort? That the suffering’s over? Didn’t seem to help Mary and Martha much, and besides Lazarus was still be dead. You will be, too.

So what sort of Lord is Jesus? What sort of Friend do we have in Jesus? Does He just let is His friends, those who trust Him, suffer and die?

No, you have a Lord who hates death. He cried at the death of His friend, Lazarus. He hates every death. One death is too much for Jesus. One death is too much for us, too. But we experience lots of people dying in our lives, and we’ll die someday, too. Lavonne had that experience, too. Her parents. Charlene. Darrel. Sarah. The reality of our situation is that the wages of our sinfulness, being conceived and born sinners, is death. And that’s not to make us cold-hearted toward death—far from it! It’s look to our Jesus, our Lord and Friend, who does something about it!

Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, didn’t create any of us to die. So, when the devil tricked Adam and Eve, and death entered the world, the Lord set His eternal plan in motion to deal with the problem of sin and death. At the right time Jesus was conceived and born. By being an infant He swallowed up the sin and death of the infants. He bore all our sins—from infancy to adulthood—in His own body, big sins, little sins, each sin, every sin. There wasn’t a sin that Jesus didn’t carry. You want to know what those sins are? Jesus tells you in the Ten Commandments.

He went to Calvary weighed down with the sins of the whole world, the sins of all people, of all time, of all places, and Jesus, the eternal Son of God who was born in time of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate. And there at Calvary, on that cross, Jesus, the immortal God who is the very Author of Life itself, died. Jesus who is the Light of the world shut His eyes and went into the darkness of death. He was buried in grave.

Lavonne suffered, Jesus suffered for her. Lavonne died. Jesus died for her. For you, too! And this Jesus won’t stand to let death have the last word! No, no, no! Not Jesus. Jesus destroyed death from the inside out. He came back to life again. He came out of His grave. That’s the sort of Jesus He is, and Jesus is such a Lord, such a Friend of sinners that He won’t let them stay dead either. That’s what we see with Lazarus.

The Lord Jesus shows what sort of Friend He is to those who trust in Him not so much before they’re dead or while they’re dying. He rather shows what sort of Friend He is after they’re dead! He doesn’t do memorials. No, He raises them from the dead! “Lazarus, come out.” “And the dead man came out.” He makes them share in His resurrection from the dead, His coming back to life. Jesus shared His Easter empty tomb with Lazarus ahead of time. He’ll share it with Lazarus on the Last Day, and Jesus will share it with Lavonne that Last Day, too. On the Last Day Jesus will bring Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Lavonne, Darrel, Sarah, Charlene, and all everyone else who believes in Him back to life!

He’ll raise all the dead, too. Jesus holds the keys and power of death itself. Those who trust in Him will celebrate with Him in the eternal feast, just like Lazarus was celebrating with Jesus a few chapters later in John. But on the Last Day that celebration will have no end!

He’s also Friend in the midst of suffering. “I am with you always,” He says. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” That’s the promise of Holy Baptism, for those who trust Jesus’ Word in the Water. Jesus, the Suffering Lord, the Dead-and-Raised God, is with us when we suffer. He bears us up. He won’t abandon us, and He hears our prayers, our moans, our sighs. He knows our tears, too. He sympathizes with you in your suffering, in your death, and even when you cry because someone you love died. Jesus did all those things.

And at the end of it all, the Lord Jesus shows what He’s all about. He’s all about destroying death. He destroyed it at Calvary—Good Friday, Easter. HE destroyed it at Bethany. “Lazarus, come out!” He’ll destroy it at Bremen, too, and unto all the ends of the earth. The Last Day will come, the dead will rise at Jesus’ command, and He’ll bring you and me who trust in Him to live forever with Him.

He’s taken care of everything. Yes, He died, but He came back to life again. He’ll give that to His friends. That’s the sort of Lord and Friend He is.

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

INI + AMEN.

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