Why Do We Go To Funerals?

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

Text: Job 19:23-27

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

Dear friends, why do we go to funerals?  Yes, why are we here in this place today? 

Many people in our day and age will give a variety of answers to why we go to funerals.  Some say that we are here to show honor and remember a person’s past significance.  Others will say that we are here to help family members begin the process of grief – to help them learn how to say goodbye.  Perhaps we go to funerals to accept the reality of death. 

Now, while many of these motives are well-intentioned, they all, unfortunately, miss the main reason why we go to funerals.  You see, we are here this day for one reason and one reason alone, and that reason is this: our Redeemer lives.  Yes, Jesus Christ is alive! 

But what does that have to do with our brother Chuck? 

Dear friends, the fact that Jesus is alive has ‘everything’ to do with our brother Chuck.  Indeed, it has everything to do with Chuck and has everything to do with you too! 

Permit me an opportunity to explain. 

We hear from today’s Old Testament scripture reading from Job that at the Last Day, Jesus will stand upon the grave of Job to raise him up out of the grave to newness of life.  Keep in mind, though, this is not some half-baked reincarnation, where Job’s soul will come back in an animal or Job’s soul will come back in a different body.  The Lord raising Job from the grave is not Job becoming a floating ethereal, wispy spirit that bounces around on the clouds of heaven.  No, that kind of stuff is complete nonsense; it is the kind of babble that makes up sci-fi movies.  But rather, what we hear in our Old Testament reading is that those in Christ – like Job and Chuck – will have a complete resurrection of the body.  It will be a complete resurrection of Chuck, as we have known him and seen him (except without the effects of sin and death).  Mark this, Chuck will not be forgotten in the dust and ashes but will be raised from the grave imperishable because Jesus lives.  The Lord desires the very best for Chuck by giving him a body without death – a perfect renewed body.  Listen closely, the grave will burst forth, and Chuck’s body and soul will reunite, and Chuck will be free from sickness, pain, sadness, flaws, and fear. 

And so, today we gather here in this church to hear the bold promises that our Redeemer – Jesus – lives.  And because Jesus is alive, we gather in this church to hear the tremendous promise that Jesus will not forget Chuck or you in death.  We gather here to hold to the Lord’s promises, against all appearances, that even though Chuck will lie in dust and ashes, he will be raised on the Last Day.   

So, while we may come to a funeral to remember a person’s past significance, we must remember even more their present and future significance – that a person’s soul goes to be with Jesus in paradise only to be reunited with their renewed body at the resurrection of the dead.  Dear friends, death does not end a person’s significance before the Lord.  The Lord holds all of His sheep; He never lets them go but tucks their bodies into the grave for a moment and at the right time resurrects the body together with the soul at the very end. 

And while we come to funeral to help a family process grief and say goodbye, we know that the Christian’s grief is different than the grief of the world.  Our sadness is the sadness of being apart from a loved one for a time, not a sadness of thinking that we will never see a person ever again.  And so, we never truly say goodbye.    

And while we come to a funeral to accept the reality of death, we must understand the reality that death has been swallowed up in Christ’s victory.  Remember the words of the Apostle Paul?

“O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?” 

In a way, our gathering here today is not only to express our grief, love, and support for Chuck and the family, but it is a gathering here this day to confess boldly in the face of sin, death, and the devil that our Redeemer lives.  Actually, we can do more than just confess.  We can taunt sin, death, and the devil as the Apostle Paul did.  Yes, because our Redeemer lives we can insult and taunt death by saying,  

“O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?” 

With our grief in one hand and the promises of God in the other hand, we  are here together this day to hear, believe, and confess the reality that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, Chuck will also walk in newness of life when he is resurrected at the last day. 

And as Chuck awaits the resurrection of his body, Chuck is in newness of life brighter than we can imagine.  Jesus is his protection and comfort; all the accusations of the Law are left behind, with no shadows of death, no deep valley of pain, no threats, but life unimpaired in the arms of Jesus’ rest.

This is most certainly true for Chuck, and it is most certainly true for you and me this day, for our Redeemer lives.

It is about Jesus my friends.  Jesus who is for Chuck in life and death.  Jesus’ life is Chuck’s; Jesus’ death is for Chuck, and Jesus’ resurrection prepares the way for Chuck’s future resurrection.  Glory be to you O Christ!   

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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