Red Letter Days: The Funeral

Dearly beloved, it is with deep sadness that we gather together in the shadow of Golgotha today. The brightest Light this world has ever known has been extinguished, and our hope has died with Him.

You might be one of the masses who called Jesus Rabbi, following His brief but explosive three-year ministry and teachings whenever He came to town. You may be among the crowds who knew Him as Healer, having experienced His incredible power personally. To you, He may have been your carpenter or classmate or friend. You could be a family member who had the great honor of calling Him Son, Brother, Cousin, or Uncle.

No matter what Jesus of Nazareth was to you, you must have felt the intense mark He left on every heart He encountered.

I think it’s safe to say this Man confused us all at times with His odd parables and talk about the kingdom, but this was part of His charm. Jesus embodied sacrifice, generosity, compassion, and strength. Wisdom guided His steps, and a steadfast upward gaze taught us all a different aspect of God than we had known was possible—a scandalously intimate one, an Abba who cared.

Jesus had a knack for leaving a trail of upheaval behind Him. Water jars brimmed with wine, priests lost their tempers, demons fled, tombs were emptied. The lame danced in His parade and lepers left cleansed and whole.

Not even nature could stand against His word. In preparation for this message, the disciples told me about an episode with Jesus in the middle of a stormy sea. As they offered up desperate final prayers, sure they were done for, all He said was, “Be still.” And everything went absolutely calm.

Those disciples couldn’t have known that a traitor was lurking in their midst, collaborating with those who hated Jesus, plotting His murder. By now, I’m sure we’ve all heard the fitting end of that evil man (whose funeral service will apparently be held shortly after this one, though I don’t expect many will attend).

The final hours of Jesus’ life were too gruesome to mention, and His death was not gentle. I pray that we would find comfort in the memory of those joyful moments we cherish so much from days gone by: His warmth and humor, His passion for people, the way He spoke with such tenderness and intensity at the same time.

Jesus was too good for this world. He only ever fought for the best in us, and the hundreds whose lives He changed can attest to His impeccable character. We will never forget this Rabbi, this Healer, this Son.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. May He rest in peace and find Himself in the arms of the Abba He loved so much.

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