Derald Weinberg Funeral (John 11)
- Order of Service: Funeral Service
- Hymns: LSB #744, 727, 770
Jesus said to [Martha], “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the Last Day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:23-27)
Jesus calls Himself “the Resurrection and the Life.” He came into the world to bring abundant life. But this abundant life comes through His death. The great exchange of His holiness for your sin.
Jesus' resurrection of Lazarus grounds our entire funeral service. Through it, Jesus sets forth four beliefs about life and death for the Last Day and today:
- There will be a resurrection on the Last Day.
- Jesus is your Resurrection now.
- Jesus is the Son of God, who is coming into the world.
- Jesus gives you His life.
“Jesus said to [Martha], 'Your brother will rise again.' Martha said to Him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the Last Day.'” Jesus teaches a bodily resurrection from the dead. We sometimes take the idea of the resurrection for granted. But Jesus speaks very specifically and very pointedly for the audience who hears Him. The Greeks and Romans believed in the immortality of the soul. That every soul went down to Hades for judgment. In that judgment, everyone would be sorted into good, bad and otherwise. Others, like the Essenes of Dead Sea Scrolls fame, believe in the immortality of the soul. In both scenarios, the body meant nothing because the soul was everything. Many people, even Christians, have this same understanding about the resurrection of only the soul in the Bible. But Jesus teaches a resurrection of the body.
The Pharisees of Jesus' day would have accepted this teaching. They too believed in the resurrection of the body on the Last Day. Martha confesses this belief to Jesus. Job confessed this millennia before: “After my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” Job, in the time of Abraham and Isaac, believed in the bodily resurrection of the dead. And Christians throughout history have believed in a bodily resurrection.
And the bodily resurrection comes through Jesus. “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” He raised Lazarus and Himself from the dead. There is no denying either of these facts. You can't deny the resurrection because denying it destroys your hope. “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” If this life is all there is, that makes you very sad you see. If there is nothing to live for and look toward, you have nothing but sorrow, agony and heartache for no good reason.
But Jesus raises you from this pitiful sorrow. He is the Resurrection. Death has no more dominion over Him. Lazarus and the others whom Jesus raised from the dead lived only a little longer. Death still had dominion over them. Death has dominion until it is destroyed. “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” When death will be completely destroyed, we will have everlasting joy. Derald believed this. He knew death would come soon. Living ninety-five years is a great blessing from God. And Derald saw each day as one of God's blessings. He could have this joy in this life because he had already been raised from the dead. In his Baptism, he died to his sin. Jesus raised him from this death to walk in newness of life. This new life was a life centered in his Savior. Spent as a resurrected son of God. Waiting for the moment he would be with God forever.
Derald is now living that reality. His soul is with his Lord, waiting for the Day when Jesus will reunite him body and soul to live with Him forever. We mourn the temporary shedding of the flesh, but we rejoice with the hope and knowledge that this shedding is temporary. He, and all those who have died, will be reunited with their bodies. And God has planned a great reunion for everyone who believes in Him. “For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” You will see Derald again, as he comes back with his Lord on the Last Day.
But until then, you live in your Baptism. You were baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection. The new life given in Christ. The Christ who is coming into the world.
Martha believed that as well. “I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Even though Jesus was standing right next to her, he was still coming into the world. He hadn't fully arrived yet. He was here, but He hadn't completed His mission yet. His mission to bring the forgiveness of sins. His mission to die to take away the sin of the world.
This was His first mission. The mission that brings hope in the face of death. Jesus has atoned for the sin which causes death. It is atoned for, but it doesn't leave in this life. The departure comes in the age to come. At His final coming.
With Jesus' final coming, everything will be completed. His atonement for sin will be final. Sin will be no more. Neither will sorrow or pain. On that Day, Jesus will make things again the way He created them to be. Perfect. Without sin. In this hope, you live the life He gives you despite the sorrow and pain.
Jesus gives you Himself for life. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” In Baptism, Jesus places His blood on you as a glorious robe of righteousness. Wearing this robe through your life, you are secure even in death. Because it will simply be a nap. You will sleep in Christ. Your grave will be your bed that you will rise from again. This was Derald's hope.
One of the great memories Derald had in his life was his trip to the Holy Land. Being in the same places where his Lord had been. Celebrating the Lord's Supper in the Upper Room where Jesus had instituted the sacrament. Living in Christ's peace, Derald was able to die in peace.
Derald lived a life fully believing in the resurrection of the body. He believed Jesus gave him the resurrection in his Baptism. He knew that Jesus was coming back into the world. He understood Paul's statement, “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.” Derald lived a peaceful life because his life was wrapped up in Christ. And Christ came into the world to give peace. Amen.