November 15, 2020
Pastor John Hering
1 Corinthians 13:12
1 Corinthians 13:12
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Have you ever been to a funeral where the preacher didn’t know the family or even the person who died? They work really hard to paint pictures of the person who died with glowing terms. “Grandpa loved the kids! He is walking on the shores of heaven with his wife again!” Maybe these words bring some comfort to family members, but I would imagine it would also upset some in the family who really knew the person who passed away. They knew the deceased faults, failures and fumbles and might even wonder if they’re really in heaven at all. In such a situation we might say they really had only a poor understanding of who their loved one really was or what happened to them after they died. There is so much more to talk about that our eyes just can’t see.
When someone we love dies, we would call that a sad day. That is, if we view it through our own eyes. It is a sad day because we mourn the loss of a dad, husband, a son, an uncle, a good friend. But, what if we viewed the day a Christian dies through someone else’s eyes? Today I want to share with you what God’s Word says about “sad days” from God’s perspective. Let us view this day through the lens of God’s Word and see so much more! Yes,
We Have A Greater Hope More Than The Eyes Can See!
Though a loved one dies
As your pastor, you would think I would know who you are. But, because I only spend a couple of hours with you in church on a Sunday, I probably don’t really know you all that well. If you entered into the ranks of the Saints Triumphant you would expect me to say a few things at your funeral about being a husband or wife, mom or dad, or wonderful grandparent. I guess I could squeeze that into my sermon. But, even if I don’t really know you all that well, I actually do. Let me share a story with you about a recent funeral I had for a man I knew for about an hour. There was a man in this neighborhood who was dying from cancer and the hospice worker happened to find me when doing a Google search for “Lutheran Pastor.” And that was because Bob was dying and he wanted to talk to a Lutheran pastor and he got stuck with me. I came over to his house and Bob didn’t know me and I didn’t know Bob, but I think he wanted to see me because he knew his end was coming and he wanted to be sure of something his eyes couldn’t see. Through the eyes of the family, it was a bad day.
Intro: Families go through some sad days. When parents find out from their employers that they have to pick up their home and relocate to another city it can be a sad day. Mom has to pack up her kitchen, clothes and kids. The kids have to say good-bye to their friends. Dads have the stress of trying to hold his home and his family together. It can be a sad day. But, on the other hand, there can be a silver lining to the move. Maybe the neighborhood where they lived was a bad influence. Perhaps the schools are not teaching at a level that the parents would like and the move to a new location might bring better. If the move is to another part of the country, or even the world, the family gets to experience new customs, new surroundings, and meet new people.
Likewise we all know that everyone dies and we want to know their move from this life to the next has a silver lining. There are all sorts of reasons why people die. Some die from terrible accidents. Other are attacked by disease. But, the physical reasons for death are really secondary to the main reason for death. Death comes to everyone because of sin. Doctors cannot diagnose sin, but it’s there. The Bible tells us that everyone is born with sin. I know this is hard to believe when you spend time at the maternity ward in the hospital. When you were born, I doubt very much that your mother said, “Oh, look, I just gave birth to a sinner!” These newborn babies look so innocent. But we are looking at babies with our own eyes. However, if we see them through the eyes of God we see every person infected with sin. While we may not see the sin, we certainly see the effects of sin. The Bible clear, “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23).
Yet, for many of you, something happened shortly after you were born. You were baptized. This wasn’t a spectacular sight to the human eye. No, it was only water being applied by a hand to his head in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. But, if you could view this baptism the way God saw it you would have seen something much greater—yes, a miracle. For God saw someone die! He says the baptized person died to sin and comes alive through the washing of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit. The angels in heaven were rejoicing that another person was received into God’s family. You were made the Lord’s very own child. The blessings that Jesus won for you on the cross were graciously given to you. The Holy Spirit created faith in your little heart. God gave you a Greater Hope More Than the Human Eye Can See!
Then like so many others, your learned to love Jesus. But, there are enemies who tried to destroy your faith. The devil works to distract you from his Savior. Even the world tries to put obstacles in your way so that you will forget to worship and praise Jesus who has already loved you so much. How do I know this happened in your life? Because I know my life. We all know about these struggles with family, work, and personal time off work to distract us from hearing about everything Jesus has done for us. Our eyes can see this. That is what the Bible is talking about when it says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror.” The devil uses all sort of obstacles to try and make our view of Jesus blurred. It is a warning for us all to be careful, and to take God and our relationship with him seriously.
Sad days come and they put a pit in our stomach. That’s what our eyes see. But, let’s consider what God saw. Perhaps God allowed sickness to come in order to give time to once again consider our relationship to God. I have the privilege to talk plainly with people. I get to ask people, “You want to know what’s going to happen to you when you die? I can tell them that God loved us so much he sent his Son Jesus to live for us and die on the cross to pay the penalty of all our sins. Then I say, “Jesus died to forgive all your sins. You are forgiven.” I am here to tell you that for many years we see only a poor reflection, but the day will come when we will see Jesus face to face in with the Saints Triumphant! For it is Jesus himself who said, “Whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved, and whoever doesn’t believe in condemned,” (Mark 16:16). Believe in your heart, that even though there are sad days—I can’t be the perfect pastor, husband, dad, or grandpa—but Jesus has removed the curse of sin. We have greater hope in more than the eye can see. That’s why we are confident that
We will Live With Jesus
It’s hard to talk about people at their funerals when you really don’t know much about them. But, it is a joy to preach at a funeral when the person who has passed left behind some wonderful indicators that they were a child of God. You know people like that. They loved to talk about Jesus and love their family. That’s why we all grieve, because we bury the remains in a cemetery. But, today you can take God at his word and see something completely different. The Bible says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” On the basis of Jesus’ promise we can see much more! We can take God at his Word and imagine our loved ones, and ourselves in heaven face to face with our Savior who loves us so much. While living on earth, we can only imagine what heaven will be like. But our loved ones who left this earth are now face to face living with Jesus. Listen, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” They see what we can only imagine. They know God as well as God knew them while they were here with us. Now they are Saints Triumphant and know their Savior as the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Our loved ones who died, died in Christ and now live with him in heaven.
Conclusion: But, we are still here. You might even have trouble hearing that our loved ones are in heaven because we know what our eyes see. You might continue to think that it’s a sad day. I would agree, it is a sad day for us, especially if we fail to see Jesus through eyes of faith. Rely on the same promise that Jesus held out to us from his outstretched arms. There is a much greater life than what our eyes can see. You have a greater hope more than your eyes can see because you know you will live someday with Jesus.
Like I said as the beginning. I really didn’t know that much about you all. But, what I do know about you is the most important thing I could know about anyone. You have greater hope in something more than our simple human eyes can see. Yes, I pray that the Lord grants you a faith that clings to Jesus and allows you to see through faith what you’ll never see with just human eyes. I pray that you believe in Jesus now and someday you’ll get to see Jesus, the King of Kings, face to face, too. Amen.