Text: Luke 7:11-17
Dear Cindy, Jared, Ryan, Curtis, Hillary, brothers, family, friends; Our Lord’s comfort be yours today as you mourn.
Funerals have a bittersweetness to them. We’re here in Christ’s Church because this man – Kevin James Trimpe – belongs to Christ; He is a child of God who has received Christ’s forgiveness and life. At the same time, though, this isn’t where we want to be today. This isn’t what we want to be doing. We want no part of death, or the great sadness that comes with it; especially when it’s a man we love and who loved us.
We want no part of death because it scares us. We want no part of death because it reveals to anyone who’s looking just who we truly are. We are sinners. So was Kevin. We all are slaves of sin; and so we behold our reward: death. We want no part of it. We desperately want to deny it or at least move on from it as quickly as possible.
This is, I think, in large part why we don’t know what to say to people who are mourning. What do you hear at the reception? “I’m sorry for your loss.” “My condolences.” “Our thoughts and prayers go out to you.” “He’s in a better place.” “It’s going to be OK.” And you know what? All of these are fine things to say. They are the best we can do on our own at offering comfort, especially when we have been made most uncomfortable.
We say these things because though we empathize, and we want to help, we know that there’s nothing we really can do to help and so we don’t really know what to say.
The Gospel lesson for the funeral service today is the same Gospel lesson that was heard here in the Divine Service this past Sunday. The story told in these few verses teaches us that when it comes to funerals, the one who can speak the most comforting words – the words that give us true comfort and hope – that person is Jesus only.
Jesus approaches the widow there at Nain, and He speaks to her. But it’s a little shocking, at least at first: “Do not weep.” That is, Jesus says, “Stop crying.” Which seems a bit blunt. But Jesus says this because He has in mind what He’s about to do.
Jesus stretches out His arms and halts those who are bearing the boy’s body to the grave. And He opens His mouth again and speaks words which make alive: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” And the young man sits up and begins to speak. He is fully alive.
Jesus’ words and actions here are a comforting lesson for us. Jesus can gently tell us that there’s no need for weeping, because He has all authority in heaven and on earth. Jesus has the power to forgive sin. Jesus has victory over death.
This is the most important thing you can ever hear. Jesus, the Son of God, became man to trample down death by His own death. And this resurrection of this young man at Nain is a preview, a foretaste of things to come.
On the Last Day, Jesus will return and say “Arise!” to all the dead. Kevin will sit up, stand up, behold Jesus. It will be just like we heard in the reading from Job. Kevin will see Jesus with his own eyes, in his own glorified, perfect body that Jesus has resurrected. Sickness and suffering, ill-health and mysterious ailments will not return.
When Jesus raises the widow’s son at Nain, He shows us who He is. He is the Lord God, the only one who has true power to give life. And we learn what His eternal kingdom looks like. Death is not natural; it’s not just a part of life. Death has no place in Jesus’ kingdom. So there is no death. There’s no sickness, no pain, no weeping. Death is defeated, Jesus reigns. And where Jesus is, there is forgiveness and life for His people – for Kevin.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He dies no more. Death has no more power over Him. On the Last Day, Kevin will rise from the dead. He will die no more. Death has no more power over Him. For he belongs to Jesus, forever and ever.
Dear friends, this is our hope, for Kevin and for ourselves, in Christ. Not a hope based on speculation or wishful thinking, but on the promises of Jesus. Christ dies and was raised. Kevin has died, and he will be raised from the dead on the Last Day into the joyful, wonderful, glorious eternal life with Christ.
How do we know this? Because Kevin is a baptized child of God. We heard this at the beginning of the service. In Kevin’s baptism Jesus gave His own death and resurrection to Kevin. Christ joined Kevin to Himself, and Himself to Kevin. Christ’s death for sin is Kevin’s death. Christ’s resurrection from the dead is Kevin’s resurrection. Christ died, was buried, and was raised. The same is and will be true for Kevin.
So do not weep, Cindy. Do not weep, Hillary, Jared, Curtis, Ryan. Or, I should say, do not weep as those who have no hope. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Kevin believes in Him, so though he dies, yet shall he live. Everyone who lives and believes in Christ shall never die. Jesus is the Christ, the one who has taken all sin with Himself to the Cross. Jesus is the Christ, who was raised on the Third Day as a promise of eternal life. And Kevin is His. On the Last Day, Christ will resurrect Kevin and give Him everlasting life. And in Christ, we will be there with him.