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A Funeral Sermon

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A funeral sermon - 1 Corinthians 15:1-28

There are not many good things associated with the sadness and emotion of a funeral. But one good thing is that people often think and speak more honestly about life and death, and whether there is life after this life.

This afternoon I want you to think about these things for yourself, by asking a simple question about A: Was A a ’loser’?

I have deliberately phrased the question in a confronting way because everybody here would say that A was a really nice person in every way.

But it is equally true that you could not know A without knowing of her long time obsession with Jesus. In fact her devotion to Jesus defined her in every way.

At age 28 A determined that she had no alternative but to live her life under the authority of Jesus and in obedience to his word.

From that point, until she died her whole life was a real and confident expression of that conviction.

And that’s confronting because it forces us to ask the question: Was her passion for Jesus silly, or over-the-top and fanatical, or completely misplaced, or just plain pathetic?

A was convinced this is God’s world and that she was created by God and answerable to him, but that her natural inclination from birth was to rebel against God’s authority and to do her own thing.

A was convinced that her rebellion or sin made her liable to God’s judgment, and that there was no way she could ever be good enough to get to heaven though her own efforts or resources.

Yet A was convinced that she would be in heaven because of Jesus – because his death on the cross 2000 years ago had dealt with her rebellion or sin; had secured her forgiveness; had brought her into new relationship with God; and guaranteed her place in heaven.

So, how are you going to answer the question? Was A a nice person, but totally deluded, and, frankly, pretty sad and pathetic with respect to the things she held most dearly in her life?

To answer this question, we have to ask another confronting question: Was Jesus a loser? The two questions are inseparably linked. If Jesus was loser – if what he said about himself was not true then sadly, in spite of her total devotion, A also is a loser.

So, how do we decide if Jesus was a loser? Very simple really! It all hangs on the reality or otherwise of his resurrection.

Jesus said he was God come into the world, as a real person, to re-establish God’s rule in his world, and deal with rebellion.

Jesus said he would achieve that through his death on the cross - planned, voluntary, and necessary to pay the penalty due the rebellion of his people; to secure their forgiveness; to return his people to relationship with God which would last for eternity.

Jesus said that his resurrection was proof of all he had said. And that is exactly the point of the section of the Bible read to you earlier. Some in Corinth couldn’t come at the resurrection – people don’t come back from the grave.

They had no problem in believing Jesus was a good person and a good teacher with values worth promoting, but don’t ask them to believe that Jesus came back from the dead.

Paul’s response is that it’s all or nothing. The message of Christianity stands or falls with the reality of the resurrection of Jesus.

It is the resurrection that proves Jesus is God – only God could come and go in his world as he pleases.

It is the resurrection that proves that Jesus has freed us from God’s judgment and secured access to life everlasting in heaven.

And what’s more, belief in the resurrection of Jesus is not only reasonable, but compelling, because of the evidence.

In the verses previous to those read to us. Paul refers to the best evidence of all – eyewitnesses!

Hundreds of people saw Jesus alive and well in the days and weeks after he was dead and buried. And many of these witnesses are what we would call today, hostile witnesses, with no reason to peddle a story that was not true.

So, the logic is simple. Since Jesus is Lord and God as he said, then A confidence and passion rather than being silly or misplaced or over-the top, is exactly the response that is needed.

And it is precisely the response that all of us should have to Jesus.

A instructed me to say what I have just said. I am simply a messenger, conveying her challenge to all who would at some point gather for her funeral.

As she did years ago, she wants everyone here to embrace Jesus as your only hope of escaping God’s judgment and of getting to heaven.

Today we are gathered to remember and honour A life. I don’t think it is possible to do that truly without taking seriously her great passion and her great devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so I call each of you to be true to the reason you came  here today and honour A by sharing in her determination to live your life under the authority of the Lord Jesus.

 

Amen

The persons name is changed out of respect for the grieving family. Editor

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 January 2011 09:32  

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