Funeral of Chad Baker (Jn 11; Is 25; Rev 7)

Photo by Milo Bauman on Unsplash

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᛭ INI ᛭

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

((5. Oops!: How did it ever come to this?))

How did it ever come to this? Of all the things you thought you’d be doing on December 29, 2021 it wasn’t this.

((4. Ugh!: Why didn’t Jesus do anything?))

There’s lots of conflicting emotions today, lots of swirling thoughts. We’re almost in a fog, caught up in a whirlwind. Is it even real? How can it be so?

In a sense, there’s no right or wrong set of emotions to be feeling today. We’re lost in the trees with seemingly no path through the forest. What’s the right way to be feeling? What’s the right thing to be doing?

As Chad’s pastor, I’m wondering about such things. But for you Anna, and Melvin and Mary, and Casa, and all the Baker and Friedrich’s clans, and all of the rest of you here today, I’ve got pretty good idea where you all are on the emotional spectrum. (Or maybe not. We can’t assume anything, can we?) But there is one thing, one thought, that binds us together today. It’s a question: “Why?”

It’s more direct than just “why?” It’s “Why didn’t Jesus do anything?” This question is all over the place in our Gospel reading, too. Martha and Mary ask it. Now, they don’t put it as a question. Martha and Mary both say, “Lord, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” Tough words for a tough Jesus. Some of the crowd, too, have similar thoughts: “Couldn’t this guy who healed the eyes of the blind keep this man from dying?”

What’s Jesus to do with such people?

((3. Aha!: Jesus has already done everything!))

Well, Jesus, like He did some 2,000 years ago in Bethany, comes to people who are all mixed up and in throws of grief and sadness and death. He doesn’t expect us to sort things out on our own. What sort of terrible darkness we’d end up in! He comes. He leads the way. He really does call us to Himself. He really speaks to us, like He spoke with Martha, with Mary, and with Lazarus! He says, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

His will has already been done. Jesus makes His Father’s will known. His revealed will “is that all people be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” (“Yes, Lord, I know that you are the Christ.”, says Martha.) “God’s will is done when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and [in] faith until we die.” And that means when it comes to Chad the day of all days isn’t today. It isn’t December 23. It is the day he was baptized.

This really is God’s will for all of us, and we know this because of who Jesus is. Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” Jesus is “coming back to life.” Jesus is “eternal life.” Jesus is “the Light that shines on those who dwell in the shadow of death,” and this Jesus “is the life of men.”

Not only IS Jesus “resurrection and life.” Jesus DOES “resurrection and life.” He has to because Jesus hates death. He hates death because He is life. He hates death because “since light awoke and life began, [He has] desired [His] life for man.” And so He comes to fix it. Today was unthinkable to Jesus, and so He entered into this world. He took death head on. “Where was Jesus?” The truth is at His cross, at His death, Jesus was “drawing all men to Himself”—their sin, their death. This death.

What does Jesus know of death? Everything: He went through it, too. What does Jesus know of resurrection and life? Everything! He went through it! He came back to life. He really did. Facts. And Jesus’ own cross, suffering, death, burial, and resurrection show us an answer. Jesus has already done everything! He does death and resurrection.

He did resurrection and life at Bethany. He brought Lazarus back from the dead. He did resurrection and life at Bethlehem. That’s what that Christ candle is all about. In holy Baptism Chad “received Christ who is the Light of the world.” In “holy Baptism Chad received the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covered all His sin.” “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?….If we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.”

((2. Whee!: JESUS SETS THOSE HE LOVES FREE FROM THEIR GRAVES.))

Since Jesus is and does resurrection and life, that means something for those He loves. What does Jesus do for those He loves?

JESUS SETS THOSE HE LOVES FREE FROM THEIR GRAVES.

That’s what we see in with Lazarus. Jesus loved Lazarus. He loved Mary and Martha, too. Jesus loves Lazarus not by preventing his death, but by raising him from the dead. He let Lazarus experience of preview of Easter, a preview of the Last Day.

Now, Jesus loves you, too. His love, His eternal love is put on display, openly for all the world to see, at Calvary. There He didn’t shy away from your chief problems. “The wages of sin is death.” There He paid for those sine, endured their consequences. His love shines brightly there, and it shines all the more brightly still on Easter morning. Jesus came back to life, exited His grave, and we see that Jesus has the power to set THOSE HE LOVES FREE FROM THEIR GRAVES.

Jesus loves Chad, too. His eternal love for him. (See how great Jesus’ love is! Not just for all, but even for one!) Had it just been Chad Jesus would’ve done no less. The care He has for Mary, for Martha, for Lazarus, shows us the love Jesus has for just one. It’s not saying anything about the character of Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Chad, or each of you, or even me. It’s saying everything about the character and quality of Jesus’ eternal love for each.

He loves us in a very specific way. He loves us in the Lazarus way. Lazarus is a picture for each of us that Jesus loves. (And we love Jesus for it, too.) Jesus loving us in the Lazarus way means that He will call us out of our grave, just like He did for Lazarus. “Lazarus, come forth.” “Chad, come forth.” You, too. “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Jesus’ words to the Prophet Ezekiel came true in Bethany. They’ll come true again. “Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people…And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.”

JESUS SETS THOSE HE LOVES FREE FROM THEIR GRAVES.

((1. Yeah!: What happens in the meantime and after?))

But what about now? What happens now? Well, the Lord Jesus will keep making His resurrection and life promise. That’s the promise He delivers in His Holy Word. It’s the promise in His Gifts. It’s the promise of Baptism. “Heir of eternal life,” as Paul says. “Baptism now saves you,” as Peter says. It’s the promise of His Supper. As Jesus says, “Whoever eats my body and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will resurrect him on the Last Day.” It’s also the promise of His absolution. “Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven,” as Jesus promises. Wherever that word shows up. “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”

Jesus also weeps with those who weep. He weeps over Lazarus’ grave, even though He knew what He was going to do. Jesus hates death that much. It moves Him to tears. Moves Him to action: not just raising Lazarus. But going through death Himself to blow it up from the inside out, to kick its teeth in. The Lord makes the tears we shed for Chad holy by the tears He shed for Lazarus. Jesus grieved. “Jesus wept.” We can, too. We do so in hope. “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so [we believe that], through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”

But the Lord also makes another promise through David. David in the Spirit says, “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Oh, they are. Each tear. Every tear. Whenever an enemy causes one of those He loves to cry, and the last enemy to be destroyed is death, but when that happens, the Lord keeps track. For David, for Chad, for each of you. He does so, so that He can keep His promise. He makes it to you today in Isaiah and Revelation. He will “wipe away tears from all faces.” Not just this one, that one. All of them. These ones. “He will wipe away every tear from their eye.”

JESUS will do that when he SETS THOSE HE LOVES FREE FROM THEIR GRAVES. All His Word and Promises and Gifts point us in that direction. His cross. His empty grave. His Font. His Word. His Supper. His Absolution. Making you holy. Prepping you for the day when JESUS WILL SET THOSE HE LOVES FREE FROM THEIR GRAVES, even you and me. “He who calls you is faithful He will surely do it.” “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

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

᛭ INI ᛭

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