Susan Derby Funeral
Wednesday of Easter 4 Trinity Lutheran Church
20 April 2016 Murdock, NE
+Jesu Juva +
1 Corinthians 15:51-57
Funeral of Susan L. Derby
Well, let’s get right to it. No messing around. And no sugar coating it.
Death does not have the last word. In fact, death really has no say so at all. Someone else has the say so today and forever.
Oh sure, death acts like he’s in charge. Pretends that he’s lord over all. And you’re tempted to believe that too. After all, death gobbles everyone up. Doesn’t seem to miss anyone. Sometimes in the most unexpected and swift ways.
Take Susan for example. Similar to her sister Nancy. Good grief, in the blink of an eye everything changes – it all goes south in a hurry. One day Susan’s doing her regular whirlwind of doings from fixing Butch supper, baking a pie, running grandkids everywhere, taking care of pets, running off the church bulletin, stopping by to say hi to her father, and whatever else she had her hand in. Then all of a sudden she’s sick, getting sicker, and then sick to death. On Saturday death got right in our grill and confidently proclaimed: “Nothing you or the doctors did could stop me. I’m the winner. You lose.”
You don’t believe that, do you? You’d better not. Death is a liar. Death is a preeminent fraud. He is a quintessential con artist. A scammer par excellence. Death is not what he appears to be. Death is defanged. Death is impotent. In fact, death has been gobbled up by none other than, that’s right, you guessed it … Jesus!
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE JESUS IS THE LORD! He has the say so. Illustrated so well at his best friend’s grave. Four-Days-Dead Lazarus. So dead that his body is already decaying — already emitting and reeking the foulest of death’s disgusting odors. The very same Lord who said at the beginning “Let there be light,” now categorically commands at the tomb “Lazarus come out!” His words do what they say. You know. You heard the story just a few minutes ago. And in whom did many believe? Death? Of course not! They believed in Resurrection and the Life Jesus!
His words are the only words that really count. He is the Good Friday King. His divinely shed blood that stained the earth red and His sacrificial death answered and atoned for all sin. For every sinner. FOR YOU. For Susan.
And more! The miracle of all miracles. Grave yard dead and buried Jesus broke death’s jaw by rising from the grave on the third day. Oh, yes, death tried to be the lord by irately gulping down Jesus in one bite on the Friday we all call “Good.” But Jesus gave death such indigestion, such nausea, such an intense bellyache, that death could only do one thing. Give in. Cry uncle. And violently vomit or wretch Jesus out of the tomb. Then came the most intense dry heaves And then Jesus put His foot on death’s neck and crushed his limp and noodle like body forever.
So who is the Victor? Who has won the victory? Jesus! “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” declares the text.
And it is true. Absolutely correct. I told you at the beginning of the sermon. No messing around. No sugar coating it. I preach Christ crucified and risen! He is the Lord! He reigns. He is the Resurrection and the Life.
What He, as the Good Friday and Easter Sunday Lord promises, He does and gives. For example: “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mk 16:16). Or: “Eat this bread. It is My body given for you. Drink the wine. It is My blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” (Mt 26:26-28). Or how about this one? You heard it earlier. “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die,” (Jn 11:25-26).
Do you believe this? Of course you do. Thanks be to God that you do! You know the truth. You believe it. Even as tears are in your eyes today. Here’s the fruit of the Lord Jesus being the Resurrection and the Life FOR YOU and FOR SUSAN. It’s today’s text. Hear it again. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and we shall all be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”
Now it’s we that are audaciously bold. Yes, even in the stark and stunning face of Susan’s death and at her funeral. Like the Old Testament patriarch Job we get in death’s face and shout: “And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God whom I myself shall behold and whom my eyes shall see and not another.”
Because of Jesus who is the Resurrection and the Life we categorically declare to death and the grave today: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” The victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Because Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, we dare to mock, ridicule, scoff at – and dare I say it? – yes I will – SPIT IN DEATH’S FACE today with these taunting nana nana nana questions: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? Yes that’s right! You have no victory death! You have no sting death! Jesus has defeated you!”
This is the victory that only faith can see. Faith that trusts in Jesus. In His promises. On the Last Day faith will give way to sight. Every eye will see what we’ve always believed. Jesus is the Lord. Like at Lazarus’ grave so too at Susan’s, yours, mine and all believers: “Come out!” Jesus will command. His words will do what they say. The perishable raised imperishable. The mortal raised to put on immortality.
It’s just like I told you. Death does not have the last word or any word for that matter. Jesus does!
He’s never one to mess around or sugar coat anything. Especially at times like these. When you really, really need to hear it. And here is what He says. It’s categorical and definitive. “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.