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Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen KS || AUDIO
Jesus said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
INI + AMEN.
Our being gathered here today isn’t unexpected. But it’s not unexpected for the obvious reason. In fact, the sad reality of our world is that no funeral is unexpected. Its timing might be unexpected, but the funeral itself isn’t. “The wages of sin is death.”
We’re gathered here, in this place, today because of Jesus. His glory gathers us together, draws us together at a time like this. We’re gathered into this place and not just a funeral home or whatever other place we could gather as a final act for those we love who’ve died.
Our being gathered in this place today isn’t unexpected. We should expect to be here, even today. Why? Because Jesus has risen from the dead! His glory is that He died on Calvary’s cross, and the glory that His Father adds on to the glory of Jesus’ cross is that He raised His Son from the dead, brought Him back to life, harvested Him from the ground into the land of the living.
We’re here because of Jesus’ glory. The glory that He died for Marjorie and for each of you here today. (And for each of you watching today, too.) But we’re also here because of the glory added to Him: “He was brought back to life for our justification,” for our eternal “forgiveness, life, and salvation.” He also came back to life for each of you, and also for your mom, grandma, great grandma, or however else you are related to Marjorie.
((2. Jesus is the grain of wheat, and you’re His fruit.))
So, how can I say that we’re here because of Jesus’ glory: His death and resurrection? Well, let’s just listen again to what Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I tell you: unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Jesus is the Son of Man. Jesus is that Grain of wheat. Planted in the grave. He “gave His life as a ransom for many.” To pay for all our sins. To redeem us, buy us back from our sin, from the devil, and even from death. He pays the wages, “that we by our sins have deserved.” “The wages of sin is death.” Not just our death. Jesus’ death, too! But there’s more! (Always more with Jesus.) “The free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Sin’s wages paid for by Jesus: “holy, precious blood, innocent suffering and death.”
But Jesus is the grain of wheat in another way. “If it dies it bears much fruit.” Fruit means life. Life from the dead. So also, “Christ has been raised from the dead, the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Or as Job prophesied, “I know that my Redeemer lives and He shall stand at the Last Day upon the earth. And after my flesh has been destroyed, this I know, that in My flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my own eyes shall see and another pair. How my heart yearns within me!”
Now that Christ has been raised from the dead, death is just a nap. A nap Jesus can and will wake your body from. Even this one! Because when Jesus says, “If it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus is the grain of wheat, and the fruit He’s talking about isn’t Himself, through it does hint at His own resurrection on Easter.
So, if Jesus is the Grain of wheat, then who’s the fruit? You are! I am. Marjorie is! That’s how Paul can refer to Jesus as the “Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” He’s the first harvest of the Resurrection to eternal life. And those who are His will be harvested just as He was, raised from the dead, come back to life, just like He did on the third day.
We are gathered here in this place because Marjorie and each of you are the fruit of Jesus’ death and resurrection: watered into His death in Baptism, fertilized by His death through the Supper of His body and blood, given light and breath by the Word and Preaching that deliver His death, you “growing up into Him, who is our head,” just like “branches bear fruit that are attached to their Vine.” Jesus your Vine. You His branches. But now I’m starting to mix some metaphors.
((1. Jesus gathers His fruit, His wheat, into His barn.))
But if you’d permit me, I’ll do that for just a bit more. Mix metaphors. Not that you have much choice. Since that’s what I’ve prepared, and I’m here and you’re there, but anyway. Jesus isn’t just the Grain, He’s also the Sower, the Farmer. Now, that’s something you all know a little about. Being a farmer. Not just you; Marjorie, too! Not just farm wife—farmer in her own right.
If there’s a planting, then there’s a harvest, too. The Lord sows, and He harvests. “He gathers His wheat into His barn.” And what does His harvest look like? Well, that’s what Revelation 7 is all about! “I looked and behold a great crowd that no one can number, from every nation, all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes.” They had “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” The Lamb, the Jesus, who was slain and raised for them. His blood, their purchase price.
Their robes clean. Radiant. Spotless. Best robes, best clothing around. Better than any of the finest dresses or suits you can find at a wedding. That’s a robe your mom now as. She’s now one of those “who have come out of the great tribulation” of this life, “the valley of the shadow of death.” That robe first promised and given in Baptism. It’s now hers forever and ever.
She was washed and clothed with Christ and His righteousness, you, too, in Baptism. “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.” Can’t get much more washed in the blood of the Lamb than getting clothed with the Lamb Himself! United with her Jesus in Baptism, knitted to Him, sewn to Him, yep, crocheted to Him. Now also think about her Jesus and yours and His Baptism whenever you see the lovely gifts she made you.
She’s a fruit half harvested. Nevertheless harvested. His angels took her to His side. Her spirit lives with Him, and on the last day fully reaped: “the mortal shall put on immortality,” as Paul says. “They shall go their Lord to meet, treading death beneath their feet.”
We’ve been gathered here by Jesus. Part of His plan. Part of His harvest to gather us together. To water us. Fertilize us. Give us light. That’s why it’s not unexpected. Yes, there may be tears. Sadness. Yet, hope. The Psalmist says, “Those who sow in tears, will reap with shouts of joy.” Jesus did that for you. Tears and crying at Calvary for each of us, but yet He reaps us with the joy of His own resurrection. After all,
JESUS IS THE TRUE GRAIN OF WHEAT FOR YOU, AND YOU ARE AND WILL BE HIS GATHERED FRUIT.
Grain of wheat for you at Calvary, buried into the ground for you, too. But He came back to life, and you are His fruit. You are the fruit of His cross and His empty tomb. Watered into His death in Baptism, fertilized by His death through the Supper of His body and blood, given light and breath by the Word and Preaching that deliver His death to you. He the wheat. You His fruit. But not just any fruit. Gathered fruit! He’s done that today. He’ll do it on the Last Day, too. “And I,” and you and Marjorie, “will dwell in the house of the LORD [Jesus] forever!”
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!
INI + AMEN.