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Aggie Beck Funeral

September 26, 2012

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Funeral Sermon:  Agnes “Aggie” Beck                                        Trinity Lutheran Church

26 September 2012                                                                  Murdock, NE


John 11:21-45


Jesus could have come right away when the two sisters put out the 911 pastoral emergency call!  “Come quickly Jesus!  Lazarus, your best friend is very sick!  The fever is too high!  Hurry Jesus!”  Incredibly, He doesn’t!  He takes His time.  He lets Lazarus die!  Then He shows up! Four days after the burial!  Lazarus couldn’t be any deader!  In fact, he’s so dead that the corpse has begun to rot.  It stinks.


Martha and Mary are furious!  “Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died!  But you didn’t come!  You stayed away!  And now he’s graveyard dead!”


You’d be furious too!  Their faith in Him is seriously challenged.  Do they dare to trust Jesus at the tomb of their brother?  Do they dare to trust Jesus with their brother’s death?  Will they have any use for such a Jesus?  Some don’t!  They mock Him.  “He could open the eyes of the blind!  But death appears to be too much for Him!  Death one – Jesus zero!” 


There Jesus stands!  Among the scorekeepers!  The doubters!  The scoffers!  In the very midst of death.  At the tomb of his friend Lazarus! And there, as He stares the grave and death in the face, Jesus has the audacity to preach a sermon!  Yes, that’s right.  Times like these call for a sermon!  After all, to use Jesus properly is to trust His promises!  And so He’s off with a full blast sermon loaded with promises!    


“Your brother will rise again!” Jesus proclaims.  Martha believes that.  She gives her “Amen.”  “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  True.  Very true!


But that’s when Jesus really ratchets up the sermon!  Kicks it up big time!  What no one really expected at all!  “Martha,” Jesus preaches. “Listen carefully my dear. The resurrection and the life are standing right here!  Right now!  Right before your brother’s grave!  Right before your very eyes!  I AM the resurrection and the life!  Resurrection and life are here!  In me!”


“Do you get it Martha?  Let me tell you what I mean.  Because I am resurrection and because I am life anyone who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” 


Resurrection and the Life Jesus has the final say.  Death doesn’t!  Death is a defeated enemy! 


And yet here lies the dead body of our sister Aggie!  She gets sick.  Tumor sick.  And within a few weeks we’re attending her funeral.  Getting ready to bury her in the ground. 


So today, as you all stare death and the grave in the face, Jesus asks you the same question He asked Martha after His resurrection and the life sermon. 


It is the most important question you can ever be asked by the Lord?  It is the eternal life or death question. He asks:  “Do you believe this?” 


Do you believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life?  Do you believe His promise that anyone who believes in Him will live even though he dies? 


Martha did.  “Yes, Lord” she told Him.  “I believe that you are the Christ the Son of God who was to come into the world.”  So did Aggie.  She believed Jesus’ promise that He is the resurrection and the life.  For her!  And so as she believed so she had.  AND SHE HAS!  EVEN NOW! 


Brothers and sisters, Aggie is where she’s always been!  She is with Jesus who is the Resurrection and the Life.  We didn’t have to wait until she died to be with the Lord!  He’s always been with her and she’s always been with Him through faith in His promises.  She lives in, with and under Jesus!  It is as Jesus promises: “anyone who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”


Aggie’s body was tired.  Worn out.  But the Lord who died and rose for her had good use for her during her life.  As a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.  As the maker of dill pickles, apple pie, cinnamon rolls and bread!   I wish I could have had one of those pies.  But I got to know her and Bill too late for that.  The arthritis and chronic pain really limited what she could do.  Perhaps the Lord will use her in His kitchen as one of His cooks as He readies for the day when He comes in glory on the Last Day where all believers will feast at the Lamb’s blowout wedding banquet!


“I am the resurrection and the life.”  That was Jesus’ promise to Mary, Martha, Aggie, and all of you.  Aggie believed it.  She was concerned that all of you believe Jesus’ promise too.  She didn’t want any of you to blow off this magnificent sermon from the Lord.  Why?  Because she wanted a happy reunion in heaven and the joy of sharing the resurrection of the body for eternal life with all of her family!  She knew, and I think you do too, the eternal consequences of not trusting Jesus who is the Resurrection and the Life.


Do you trust Jesus – trust Him even with Aggie’s death?  And how about your death?  Could Martha and Mary trust Jesus with their brother’s death?  Can you with Aggie’s?  And yours?    


That’s when Jesus marches to the tomb, barks out the order “Lazarus come out!”  Another sermon.  And quite powerful!  The sermon does what it says!  “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face.”    


Jesus uses Lazarus as an object lesson.  Lets his friend die and then raises him from the grave.  So that Martha and Mary would believe what He promises!  That He is indeed the Resurrection and the Life.


Then Jesus goes off and does His own dying.  Calvary.  Bearing the sin of the world in His body!  Answering for all sin and every sinner!  Making atonement for all and for you through the shedding of His divine blood!  That’s a very “Good” Friday! 


He goes into the deep sleep of death in order to put death to death!  For on the Third Day He cracks death’s jaw wide open by bursting from the tomb!  He rises victoriously from His grave!  Therefore, all sin is forgiven!  Death is defeated!  Eternal life and resurrection of the body is certain and sure for those who believe in Him who is the Resurrection and the Life! “Anyone who believes in me, will live even though he dies,” He promises, “and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”      


So, as we believe and cling to this promise from the Lord, it is time to pray, give thanks, and tuck Aggie’s body in the ground.  Put her redeemed-by-the-Lord body to bed one last time in the full confidence that even though she died, she lives!  She lives with Jesus who is the Resurrection and the Life.  He’s got her!  Always has!  Always will! 


“We will not all sleep,” the apostle writes.  “But we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raise imperishable and we will all be changed.” 


“Death is swallowed up in victory!”  In Christ’s victory!  In His Good Friday!  In His Easter Sunday! For Aggie!  And for all of you who believe in Him and His promises!


In the Name of Jesus. 

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