A Savior For The Helpless

The following 'Funeral Sermon' is posted with family permission.  May the Lord give to the family of Vicent Olson, and all who mourn, comfort in their grief and a sure confidence in the Lord's loving care.

Text: Mark 10:13-16

Donna, Robert, Crystal, Roger, Darci, Debra, Rodney, Sandy, grandchildren, family, and friends, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are assembled this morning because of one man; a man known by many of us, a man who loved many, and a man who especially embraced the helpless, the needy, the insignificant, and the sinful.  That man is obviously, Jesus Christ. 

Yes, we are gathered here this day because Jesus Christ has redeemed our brother Vince Olson.  Jesus has forgiven Vince of all of his sin, claimed Vince as His own, and promised to resurrect Vince from the grave at the last day.  We are here this day because we need to hear in this moment of our grief that Jesus Christ has not, will not, and cannot forsake Vince that Jesus was with Vince in his earthly life and is with him in death. 

This last Saturday, Vince took his last breath and his heart slowly drifted away; however, as this happened, Christ Jesus took our beloved Vince into His arms, laid His hands upon Vince, and blessed Him with rest of His soul in paradise. 

The reason why we can know this to be true is that Jesus Christ Himself has told us that the Kingdom of God belongs to little children, children like Vince. 

But we may say to ourselves; Vince was 91 years old; he was hardly a child.  Yes, it is true that Vince was removed from childhood by about 90 some years; however, we hear in the Gospel of Matthew chapter eighteen that we adults are to change and become like little children if we are ever to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Indeed, unless we change and become like children, we will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 

What does this mean, though?  Dear friends, it means that it is not the strength of our faith, the power of our good works, the splendor of our reputations, or the supremacy of our abilities that gain us access to the Kingdom of God, but rather, it is childlike helplessness.  That is to say; Jesus chooses to redeem, forgive, and save those that become like helpless children – that is to say, those who know that they are sinners in need of a Savior.  It is most certainly true; the Lord chooses not to forsake helpless sinners like me, like you, and like Vince.

As you all know, Vince was a gentle soul.  He had a kind disposition and a quiet, compassionate voice.  I say this not to draw attention to Vince’s character, but to draw attention to Vince’s helplessness.  You see, Vince knew that He was a sinner in need of a Savior.  He knew that he could not make it through this life on his own.  He knew that he was like a child – a child that needed help to make it to and through those pearly gates – as they say.  So, Vince in his childlike helplessness trusted in another.  He trusted in Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners, the Lord of life – His Lord, His Redeemer, His refuge, His strength. In fact, in the last moments of his life, Vince did not boast about himself.  He did not look to his past accomplishments. He did not even look to the power of his will, but rather, he sang on his death bed with his beloved Donna. With a throat that had been damaged by hospital tests, he sang the following,

And when I think that God, his Son not sparing, sent him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on that cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.  Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee: How great Thou art!  How great thou art!

Indeed, we are here this day at this funeral service because we need to hear about the surpassing value of knowing Christ.  We need to hear, believe, and trust in the same Savior that Vince trusted in – Jesus Christ.  We need to hear the same thing that Vince heard on his death bed, that we have a righteousness, not of our own, but a righteousness found in Jesus Christ – a righteousness given to those in need of grace. We need to hear about Jesus Christ and the power of Jesus’ resurrection – a resurrection that guarantees our resurrection.  We need to hear all of this as children of the heavenly Father. 

What we learn from our brother Vince and our scripture lessons this morning is that we need to be brought to the status of childlike faith.  We need to be stripped of our attempts of being self-sufficient and be reduced to a helpless, dependent, and needy childlike status, for this is so very good.  Why is this good, though?  This is good because when we are brought from a position of strength and self-sufficiency to a position of helplessness, we are then freed to look outside of ourselves.  When we are brought to a position of realizing that we can do nothing about our sinful condition and death itself, we can then hear that we have a heavenly Father who cares for us, who has absolved our sins, and who has triumphed over death. 

Our brother Vince was a child of the heavenly Father.  He did not have to struggle to get himself in a good position for having a relationship with God. He did not have to craft ingenious ways of explaining his position to Jesus. He did not have to create a pretty face for himself, and he did not have to achieve any state of spiritual feeling or intellectual understanding before the Lord.  All Vince did was happily receive Jesus and Jesus’s love.  All Vince did was receive the gift of the kingdom, for Jesus came to Vince and received Vince into His arms at his baptism and held him some 91 years – especially at the very end. 

Dear friends, those who insist that they are not helpless sinners will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  On the other hand, those who are helpless, dependent sinners – those who are empty handed children depending on the Lord – are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, for the Lord does not loathe children, and He does not despise childlike faith.  Oh no, He does not reject empty handed childlike sinners, but in His mighty arms, He accepts them and envelops them in His mighty strength. 

Dear friends, you who feel helpless this day, you who feel the pain of loss this morning, you who have been brought to the status of a child with empty hands, hear and receive the good news of the Gospel, news that is especially for you this day: neither life nor death shall ever sever children like Vince and you from the Lord, for you are given the Lord’s grace. 

Hear and receive this day the good news of the Gospel: though the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, the Lord God does not abandon his children, for they are the center of His love. 

Hear and receive this day the good news of the Gospel: the Lord gathers His children in this life and especially at death to preserve them pure and holy.

Hear and receive this day the good news of the Gospel: the Lord promises a resurrection of His children.  At the last day, a trumpet shall sound, and Vince will rise alive with a new body, unto life everlasting.

Take comfort this morning dear friends.  Our beloved Vince did not have to climb.  He did not have to huff and puff. He did not have to try and earn the Kingdom of God, but rather, it pleased our Father to give him the kingdom, and it pleases the Father to give you the kingdom this day as well, through the promises of His Word. 

Take comfort this morning that the Lord does not leave his children – children like Vince –, but He meets His children to lavish grace upon grace so that we might all sing,  ‘Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee: How great Thou art!  How great thou art!’

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

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