Saturday, January 24, 2015
"Deeply Moved" (John 11.17-29, 32-35, 38) - a Funeral Homily
John 11.17-29, 32-35, 38.
Often time this passage is rummaged through for its comforting words in verses 25-26. And then v. 35 is latched onto by others who want to sarcastically or humorously flaunt the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept.” But there is a great depth to this true episode in Jesus’ life, and this afternoon I want to draw your hearts and minds to three things: (1) The Accusing Voices; (2) The Anticipation; and (3) The Anguish.
The Accusing Voices (v. 21 and 32) “Lord, if you had been here,…”: You hear it in this scene – the same thing family members hear in their heads and heart; “If only you had been here…If only you had spent more time with them…if only you had only been a better son/daughter…if only you had…!” Even our Lord Jesus, at the death of his dear friend Lazarus heard those voices accusing him, admonishing him, accosting him! Remember this as you hear those voices in your heads, those whispers and jeers condemning you, shaming you, blaming you. Jesus, who did no wrong, was also blamed in the same way. You loved your mother and did for her the things sons are supposed to do, even watching a Thunders game on TV with her the night before she left you!
The Anticipation (v.25-26): Jesus words comfort us as Christians. We know that he is announcing something big here – death is not the final word! That is our hope; this is what we look forward to longingly. And if we are presently united to Christ, Jesus is saying here, we already belong to that new heavens and new earth, we are resurrection people now! Listen to how the apostle puts it in 1 Corinthians 15: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. … But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Rejoice! Take heart! Lift up your eyes with longing, expectant hope!
The Anguish (v. 33, 35, 38): Pay careful attention here, because what Jesus felt is shocking. “Deeply moved” (33 and 38) is a fairly tame translation of the Greek word. It means angry, indignant, infuriated! Jesus wept, but it was a fuming, and furious weeping. Why? Because death – that alien, that terrorist, that saboteur, that tyrant – death has violated God’s good creation, and death has violated Jesus’ dear friend. And though Jesus’ own death and resurrection will launch the remedy, nevertheless he still is aghast at the “grim reaper”! Take comfort dear friends, the one person who can do anything about death – and is doing something about it – is irate at death, and angry at XXXXX’s death! Remember, Jesus wept, and so you are not weeping alone!!!
So I end here with the words of St. Peter, words meant to help: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1.3-5). This is true of XXXXX in so far as she put her trust in Jesus – and it is true of you as you also put your trust in him!