The text I have chosen for Terry’s funeral is John 14:1-6.
1“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Here ends our text.
Cheryl, Terry, Tamara, Pat, and Larry, family and friends of Terry, if I asked you three months ago where did you think you were going to be today, I’m sure this is the last place you would have guessed. This is the last place I thought I would be today. This is the last place that Terry thought he would be today, but alas, here we are. There is only one thing that would bring us all here today, and that is death.
None of us would have thought that when Terry entered the hospital last week, he would not see the outside of the hospital. I take that back; there was one person who knew how things would work out, and that was his heavenly Father. According to Job, the number of our days have been determined by God. Despite our best efforts, there is nothing that we can do to add to that number. For Terry, last Monday was his last day on this earth. While it was his last day on earth, it was not his last day, for on March 27, he received the crown of eternal life.
None of this was expected, especially by Terry. But despite what happened in this earthly life, none of that really matters, because the important fact is what happens in the eternal life. As Christ our Lord tells His disciples, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” A long time ago, God made a promise to a pair of individuals, a couple named Adam and Eve. That promise was about salvation, salvation that was made possible by Jesus Christ.
St. Paul tells us, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism 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.” To be baptized in the name of Christ means to die with Him. To die with Christ means something, something the world cannot understand. To die with Christ means to inherit all that Christ has and all that Christ is. To die with Christ means to inherit His holiness and righteousness. It means to receive the forgiveness He seeks to give freely.
That is what Terry received all those years ago when he was welcomed into the family of God through the waters of Holy Baptism. When the pastor spoke those words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” Terry received all that Christ had to give him. He received the forgiveness of all of his sins. That fact is what drove Terry to this place, to hear the words of absolution pronounced over him, to receive the body and blood of Jesus.
One has to wonder what might have been going through Terry’s mind while he was in hospital last week. While I may not know, I do know this about Terry: he believed wholeheartedly in these words of Jesus. Hear these words again: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” If there was anything Terry had, it was not a troubled heart. Terry knew who he was. He knew that he was a sinner, inside and out. And even though he was a sinner, he knew that he was forgiven. He knew that one day, he would die. Did he think it would have been last Monday? I doubt it. Was he afraid that he was going to die? I doubt it, because he knew what would happen when he died. He knew that the moment he breathed his last, he would be with Christ.
He knew that in order to accomplish salvation, God the Father sent His Son into this world to take our place by enduring the penalty for our sinfulness and for all our sins, each and every one of them. That is what happened on the cross when Jesus died. He endured the pain that should have been yours. Jesus paid the debt that was yours. Taking your place, the Incarnate Son of God was abandoned by the Father when Jesus suffered on the cross in your place. God prepared your redemption when He died on the cross. His Words “It is finished!” indicate a complete payment and accomplished salvation for you.
Jesus invites when He says, “You believe in God, believe also in Me.” The eternal blessings of God because of His Son’s life, death and resurrection are yours by faith in Christ. Salvation is by God’s gift of faith and not by man’s good deeds. Faith itself is God’s work that the Holy Spirit gives through the Word. The Lord worked faith in Terry when he heard the proclamation of the Good News. God granted him faith to believe in Him.
Unfortunately, there are many who do not believe, many who do receive what our Lord offers. Tragically, we see that with one of Jesus’ own disciples, Thomas. It is Thomas who speaks for many when He says to God, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Does that sound like the voice that you often hear in your own head or from your own heart? Listen to Jesus’ answer to every Thomas in this world and especially in this room: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Those are the words we so desperately need to hear, not just today but always. We need to hear how Christ our Lord has come into this world full of sinners, of how He lived among us and was one of us in order to die for us. But the story would be cut short if He did not rise again for us, and He did. He rose victorious over sin and death in order to Terry everlasting life. He rose victorious over sin and death in order to give us everlasting life. Jesus is the Way because He is the only one who could make the preparations for your entry into Paradise. He is the Truth that has prepared a mansion for you that awaits you. He is the Life that extends beyond the day of your death and never, ever ends.
For as difficult time as this now is for us, we know that this sadness is temporary. While we grieve Terry’s death, that is not what we dwell on. Rather, we REJOICE that he has received the crown of everlasting life, that he now rests from his labors and enjoys the full salvation won for him and for all who believe. Amen.