Text: Luke 5:1–11
Dear Family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
“It’s not about me.” That’s what Peg wanted to get across – she titled her book with this sentence. It’s not about Peg. It’s about Jesus. Everything is about Jesus; all of life is about Jesus. That’s what Peg believed.
This belief is a gift from God. Jesus says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” The one necessary work that God asks of us, and that God works in us, is that we believe in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Peg believed in Jesus Christ, her Savior.
But she couldn’t do it on her own. She was sinful from conception, just as King David knew he was when he wrote down those words in Psalm 51: “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Like all of us, Peg was dead in her transgressions.
But new life was given to her from God. Her faithful parents brought her to the font, where she was baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection on October 1, 1953. Thereafter she walked in the “newness of life” that Paul describes in Romans 6, which we spoke together at the beginning of the service. “We were buried therefore with [Jesus] into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Having been blessed with the baptismal gifts of a regenerated heart, the Holy Spirit, faith, and the complete and certain forgiveness of her Sin, Peg could rightly say that it wasn’t about her. It’s all about Jesus, for her; and for you.
The newness of life of a Christian says “It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus’ forgiveness and mercy for me, and His forgiveness and mercy for my neighbor.”
So throughout her life Peg worked hard. Her goal was that this Jesus whom she knew and trusted in would be known and trusted in by so many others. In the archives of this congregation you can pull out the notebook containing the minutes of various meetings back in 1980 that led to the start of Good Shepherd. Signed at the bottom of the first meeting’s minutes is Peg’s name.
Since 2006, Peg has worked with Lutheran Bible Translators and Wycliffe Associates, first as a volunteer and then from 2009 until this year as an associate member. Her hard work along with so many others has helped to further the hearing of the Scriptures – which are all about Jesus – in west Africa, especially in Cameroon.
It may seem that her time was cut short. Her battle with cancer over the last few years sometimes slowed her down, sometimes weakened her. The disease was finally too much for her body and for the medical care she was receiving.
But no time is too short, or too long for that matter. All things are watched over by our Lord. He had the days of Peg’s life numbered, just as He had all the good works that she faithfully accomplished prepared for her ahead of time. Of course she wasn’t saved by those works. She was saved by the grace of Christ, received through faith.
Through all the times of rejoicing and sorrow, the relief and the suffering, the Lord instructed Peg to trust him and to take comfort in His numbering of her days.
A little while back, I sat with her at the house and we read Psalm 90 together. After I finished reading it aloud, she singled out verse 12: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” “I’ve been forced to number my days,” she said, “which is not a bad thing.”
It’s not a bad thing at all. Numbering our days, we can see more clearly what is important and what isn’t. Numbering our days, we see that we cannot help ourselves. “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.”
Moses, who wrote this psalm, didn’t write these words to depress us or make us think, “what’s the point?” He bids us to look beyond ourselves to the end. Moses’ testimony here is that if we’re staring at ourselves – or wondering whether anyone else is noticing us – then we will see nothing but the struggle and suffering which is brought upon us by the brokenness of the world and our lives due to sin.
In the same way, if we stare at Peg’s life in order to see Peg, we will see a woman who worked and then lost her husband, her son, her health, and her life. But the testimony of Peg’s life isn’t about her; it’s all about Jesus. The testimony of Jesus’ life is that it’s all about Peg, and you, and me, saved from our sins.
Jesus died and rose for the forgiveness of Peg’s sin, and for yours and mine. Jesus died and rose for the relief of suffering, for the death of death, for the giving of eternal life: to Peg and to you and to me.
In Christ, there is no toil and trouble; not for Peg, not for you. “I am the bread of life;” Jesus says. “[W]hoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. In the resurrection on the Last Day Peg will no longer have to endure those ”milkshakes”. She’ll dine at the wedding feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which has no end.
In Christ, there is no fear, no pain, no suffering; not for Peg, not for you. As we hear about in St. John’s revelation of heaven,“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
In Christ, there is nothing but the eternal bliss of sins forgiven, life restored, and the bodily resurrection from the dead; for Peg and for you. And on the Last Day Peg’s body will come out of her grave, reunited with her soul. She will stand and behold her Redeemer. He in His glorified body, she in hers. You in yours too, having faith in Him.
Oh what a glorious day that will be. On that day it will be very clear that it is not about Peg, or you, or me, or anyone else except for Jesus. He is the One who tooks our Sin to the cross and paid for it there with His own precious blood and innocent suffering and death. Jesus says, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Baptized, Peg received her sight and beheld Jesus. She believed in Jesus. She continued to confess His holy and saving name. About two weeks ago she received His forgiving body and blood in the Sacrament for the last time. I spoke the Absolution into her ears. She is forgiven. She is with Christ. She will rise on the Last Day and be with Him, body and soul, for eternity. Thanks be to God.