Paul Reinke Funeral
18 August 2016 Trinity Lutheran Church
Thursday of Pentecost 13 Murdock, NE
+ Jesu Juva +
Funeral of Paul Reinke
Paul’s confirmation verse: “I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
Sadly, many are ashamed. Embarrassed to be a follower of Jesus. Mortified to be one of His hangers on. So they won’t be caught dead (pardon the pun) in Jesus’ company or at the receiving end of His gifts. That’s a hellacious shame. I mean that. That’s no joke. In Mark 8:38 Jesus categorically states: “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words … of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” You’re not embarrassed or ashamed of Jesus or his gospel words are you? I sure hope not.
Paul Reinke, however, when push came to shove was not ashamed. From the day of his baptism Paul was a disciple of Jesus. Paul renounced the devil, all his works and all his ways. Paul promised to be dependent on Jesus for salvation.
And he was dependent on Jesus. Thanks be to God! Because Paul knew that he was a sinner. A sinner that needed the gospel! A sinner that couldn’t live without the gospel! Why? Well, it’s as his confirmation verse says: “the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
Even when he physically couldn’t come to church anymore, he always wanted me to bring him the power-of-God-gospel-for-salvation in the Lord’s Supper. He wanted to be given Christ’s Good Friday body and blood with His promise of bestowing His Good Friday forgiveness of sins just FOR HIM. Even as death approached he would mumble the Apostle’s Creed and the Lord’s Prayer with me. Wouldn’t say much of anything else but he did mutter the true faith and the prayer the Lord gave us. Isn’t that incredible? It was the power of the gospel given in holy baptism still bearing fruit in his life! And no wonder! After all, Jesus died for Paul. He rose for Paul. Winning forgiveness, life and salvation for him. And in holy baptism Jesus gifted Paul with God’s divine saving name and all that He won for Paul on the cross.
In other words Jesus gave our brother Paul salvation. It’s what Jesus promises in Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” The apostle Peter says that, “baptism now saves you,” (1 Peter 3:21). The apostle Paul declares that God “saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3:6). Did you hear the “s” verb in those texts? Baptism delivers Christ’s Good Friday’s power of forgiveness to sinners — SALVATION! Or to use the word from Paul’s confirmation text: “the gospel!”
Yes, “the gospel.” It is the power of God that saves! When you say “the gospel” you’re saying “Jesus who saves.” When you say “Jesus who saves,” you’re saying “the gospel.” The gospel is the good news that Jesus is the Savior of sinners. Savior of you. Savior of all. Savior of Paul. That’s really good news. After all, sinners can’t save themselves. Not in any way, shape or form. Only Jesus does the saving. At Calvary He achieves salvation. In the Word and sacrament He delivers, bestows, gives what He won: the gospel.
So let’s hear Paul’s confirmation verse again: “I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
You’re not ashamed. You’re emboldened. Comforted. Hopeful. Because the “gospel is the power of God for salvation.” It’s why Paul went to church all his life. To hear, receive and be given the gospel –THE POWER OF GOD FOR SALVATION — by Jesus in the sermon, the absolution and the Supper. To hear the good news that Jesus atoned for all his sin, defeated Satan, and put death to death.
So there’s no better time to hear the gospel than today. Listen to Jesus Himself. His best friend’s funeral is over. His best friend has been in the grave four days. Nothing left to do but mourn and move one. That’s when Jesus audaciously promises: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever believes in me shall never die.”
The one who speaks at the grave is the same that declared in Genesis, “Let there be light.” Now, like in the beginning, His words do what they say. He marches to Lazarus’ tomb. Barks out the order: “Lazarus, come out.” And Lazarus does! Jesus uses Lazarus as an object lesson to show that He truly is the resurrection and the life. That all who believe in Him have eternal life. That death and the grave do not have the last word. And as you heard from the reading today: “Therefore, many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.” (John 11:45)
Jesus has the say so. Jesus has the last word. His promises are full of forgiveness, life and salvation. That’s the gospel. The power of God that saves you. That saved Lazarus. That saved Paul. Power that even raises the dead from the grave.
So Jesus asked Martha the most important question anyone could ever be asked in her life. “Do you believe this?” She was not ashamed to say: “Yes, Lord. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Paul’s answer all his life was the answer of faith’s, “Yes, Lord. I believe in you too. I am nothing. You are everything. You are my Savior.” Every time he confessed the Creed that’s what he was saying unabashedly. With no shame.
Yes, the Lord Jesus is the Savior. Yours too. You are very precious to Him. He died FOR YOU. He conquered death and hell for you. All your sin is answered for. You are forgiven. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the firstfruits of them that sleep.
That’s the gospel. It is the power of God for your salvation. For Paul’s salvation. One day you and all believers in Jesus will see with your eyes the final fruit of the gospel’s power. Today is not the end. There is more to come. St. Paul put it this way: “Listen, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep but we will all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible and we will all be changed.”
In other words, on the Last Day Jesus does His cup of tea. He will raise the dead. Not just Lazarus but everyone. Even Paul. Bestowing on him and all believers in Jesus the full blast clincher of the gospel – the power of God – salvation that you can see. He will say, “Wake up sleepy heads!” And Paul’s body, your body, all the bodies of dead will be raised. Believers raised for eternal life with God in restored and perfect bodies. Imperishable. Immortal. Incorruptible. Death swallowed up in victory! The victory of Jesus! For you. For Paul.
Just like the patriarch Job unabashedly confessed: “I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.” (Job 19:25-26)
Or as we sang just a little bit ago:
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail
And mortal life shall cease
Amazing grace shall then prevail
In heaven’s joy and peace. (#744:4)
“I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.”
“Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
In the Name of Jesus.