Death Is Bad; However, Jesus' Death Is Good - And Here Is Why

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

Text: John 19:28-30

In the name of Jesus:  Amen.

Funerals tend to be sobering events.  Funerals carry with them a sense of heaviness, grief, sorrow, and tears. 

When we hear of funerals or think of them, they tend to make us hang our heads, not clap for joy. 

Now, even though there are times when a person is spared from further suffering through an early death, the death of a loved one is never a good thing, but a bad thing.  Indeed, funerals are never good news but more often than not, bad news.

The reason why it is this way?

My friends, death is our enemy.  Death is your enemy.  Death is Leona’s enemy.  And the Lord does not delight in death, and we do not as well.  Death is not good, but bad. 

Therefore, when we come to funerals like this, we come with a reluctance.  Sure, we are here to remember the life of Leona.  Sure, we are here to pay our respects, as they say.  However, there is a part of us that is shy – we all feel the gloom of death that weighs down upon us, and we feel that shadow of death leaning in on us.    

This is the reason why most people would instead attend a wedding than a funeral.  Most people would rather attend a birthday party than a funeral, as well.  Yes, give us weddings and birthday parties, but not funerals. 

So what shall we do with our time together right now? 

This may seem strange, but let us ponder another death.  Yes, right now, instead of considering Leona’s death, let us shift our attention briefly to the death of Jesus.      

Now, it may seem bizarre, but as we consider the death of Jesus, what we encounter is something quite remarkable.  We do not encounter more bad news, but quite the contrary.  We encounter something very good. 

But you may be saying to yourself,

“Pastor, I thought death was our enemy!  How can there be any good in the death of Jesus?” 

Dear friends, Satan initially planned death for you, me, and Leona, for he was a murderer from the beginning.  Death was to be the ultimate destruction of us.  However, this device of devastation for us becomes the way that Jesus gives us eternal life.  That is to say; the death brought in by Satan is flipped on its head.  In Jesus, death is made powerless.  The cross of Jesus, which is a picture of ultimate death, is now the only solution for your death, my death, and Leona’s death.  Yes, only the death of Jesus could destroy death itself.

Jesus changed everything for Leona.  His cross shattered the power of Satan, and it abolished the sting of Leona’s death.  Leona’s death was destroyed by an act of self-sacrificing love.  Sure, we must acknowledge that death has taken Leona’s body, but it cannot kill her soul, for her soul is safe in Christ. And even more, her mortal body will be raised anew someday at the great resurrection.

Yes, death may taunt you, me, and Leona, but ultimately destroy us? No! Confine us to eternal death?  No!

What this means is that today’s funeral is good, not bad.  It is good not because we have temporarily lost Leona, but rather, it is good because Jesus will never let go of Leona.  It is good because, at the Cross, Jesus damned and devoured sin.  Jesus destroyed death and rendered the Devil powerless.  Yes, today’s funeral is good because of Jesus.  It is good because we do not have to deny our fear of death or cover our fear, but rather our fear is met by the one who partook of death, Christ-crucified.  Death and its fruit of fear are to be met by Jesus’ words that death has been defeated; it is finished.

So, today we can stare into the darkness of death and say,

“What is death?  What is hell?  Christ, the Son of God, placed himself under God’s laws and died.  But Christ’s death defeated death and gave us life.”[1]

My friends, in Jesus nothing is more certain for Leona than eternal life and the resurrection, for she has been baptized into Jesus death and resurrection.   The Apostle Paul is right when he states in our reading from 1 Corinthians,

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting.  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Dear friends, even though death is bad, the death of Jesus is better – Jesus’ death is good.  Therefore, through the good death and resurrection of Jesus, the Lord will not keep Leona in the ground!  She has not been left alone with her sins, and she is not lost in the shadows of death.  But she is with Jesus now.  Jesus is her sanctuary. 

And for all of you this day, the death of Jesus is your sanctuary in the agony of sin.  Your sins are buried deeply in the wounds of Jesus.  Yes, the cross of Christ is your hope’s anchor in affliction.  It is your victory banner in the battle with sin, the world, and Satan.  Jesus is your ladder in the hour of death.[2]

It is finished.  It is all done.  Jesus is good.  His death is good.  And His goodness is for me, you, and especially for Leona. 

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

[1] Martin Luther, Source Unknown. 
[2] C.F.W. Walther, Gospel Sermons: Volume 1 tr. Donald E. Heck, 225

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