We at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Campbell Hill, Illinois, were blessed to have as our Mission Speaker the Reverend Paul Philp. Pastor Philp is the Director of Academic Planning and Assessment at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He spoke to our Bible Class about the seminary, and then he delivered the Word to us in the Divine Service. (For me, especially, the message he preached was timely.)
Pastor Philp does not preach from a manuscript, as I do, but his outline has enough detail to it that even I was able to connect the dots. Thank you, Pastor Philp, for sharing with us the vital message of the Resurrection of Jesus and the resurrection of all flesh!
The Sixteenth Sunday After Trinity (LSB – 1)
“A Funeral Ruined”
October 9, 2011
St. Peter Lutheran Church – Campbell Hill, IL
Intro: Etiquette! Every event has a certain etiquette that goes with it. We all generally know what proper etiquette is, and can easily identify those who do not in a given situation. They tend to stand out from the crowd rather easily. Weddings have proper etiquette. There is proper etiquette for inviting someone to your home, or accepting an invitation to another’s home. There is proper etiquette for gathering together as a congregation for worship. And yes, there is a proper etiquette for funerals. Those in our text seem to know the proper etiquette for a funeral, that is, except for Jesus!
I. Funeral Etiquette
A. You probably are well familiar with proper funeral etiquette today.
1. It is generally accepted, even in a more casual society that you dress nicely for a funeral.
2. Generally there are certain things that you do not say about the deceased – usually only the good things are spoken of.
3. The family is comforted with the typically almost cliché comments.
4. You perhaps send a sympathy card, maybe a floral arrangement, or perhaps a donation to a charity of the family’s choosing.
5. In all circumstances you maintain a sense of dignity and you do not interrupt the proceedings – that would ruin the funeral!
B. There was funeral etiquette in Nain as well.
1. The people would gather to comfort the bereaved – in this case a widow who had not lost her only-begotten son. A widow who would soon be forgotten.
2. The body would be carried out of the city for burial.
3. Mourning would take place among the crowd.
4. The proceedings would be carried out without interruption.
5. And, no one, except those charged with carrying the body to its final resting place would dare come into contact with the body lest they become unclean.
6. All generally accepted, understood, and adhered to practices of the day.
7. For to do otherwise would ruin the funeral!
II. Jesus’ Funeral Etiquette is different.
A. Jesus witnesses the circumstances and is filled with compassion.
1. He is filled with a deep gut wrenching compassion for the widow who has lost her son.
2. He is filled with the type of compassion that leads to the pouring out of His rich mercy and grace.
3. Filled with compassion – Jesus acts – and He breaks all the rules of Etiquette.
B. Jesus stops the funeral.
1. He interrupts the flow of the funeral procession and stops it at the gate of Nain.
a. This funeral procession is not proceeding any further.
b. Jesus stops it dead in its tracks.
c. Jesus is starting to ruin this funeral.
d. But Jesus’ funeral etiquette is different.
2. Jesus demonstrates His compassion for the woman.
a. He addresses her weeping.
b. He tells her – “Do not go on weeping!”
(1) Do not go on weeping?
(2) Has Jesus totally missed the fact a funeral is in progress?
(3) Does He not realize that this woman is a widow who has no lost her only son?
(4) Does He not know that she will now likely be destitute and unable to support herself?
(5) Do not go on weeping? Jesus’ words are a tremendous breach of funeral etiquette – He is well on His way to ruining the funeral.
(6) But Jesus’ funeral etiquette is different.
3. Jesus touches the bier!
a. He walks right up to the dead body and touches it.
b. He enters into the unclean regions of death and touches it.
c. He makes Himself unclean in the face of death.
d. Jesus has created a tremendous breach of etiquette.
e. This funeral is pretty much ruined at this point – too many inappropriate interruptions have transpired.
f. But Jesus’ funeral etiquette is different.
C. Jesus performs a miracle.
1. Jesus speaks.
a. Not to the widow.
b. Not to His disciples.
c. Not to the crowd of mourners.
d. No, Jesus speaks to the only person at this funeral who no one would expect to hear what He has to say.
e. Jesus speaks to the dead man!
2. With a Word – Jesus ruins this funeral!
a. This funeral is over.
b. The mourners can go home.
c. There is no more death.
d. For with a Word – Jesus raises the dead to life.
e. “Young man, I say to you, be raised up!”
3. Jesus Commands Life.
a. The dead man sits up.
b. Life is commanded and death retreats.
c. The funeral is over.
d. The funeral is ruined with life and resurrection.
e. The funeral is undone.
f. Jesus’s funeral etiquette is different!
4. Jesus does not allow death to reign – He brings resurrection to every funeral He attends!
a. The funeral here in Nain.
b. The death of Jairus’ daughter.
c. The funeral of Lazarus of Bethany.
d. And most especially – His own funeral!
e. Jesus does not let death reign – He commands Life and death retreats!
5. Jesus does what He came to do.
a. Just a few verses after our text – John’s disciples come to Jesus to ask if He is the Christ – the Messiah.
b. Jesus response –
(1) The blind see.
(2) The lame walk.
(3) The lepers are cleansed.
(4) The poor receive the Good News.
(5) The dead are raised to life!
c. Jesus ruining of the funeral at Nain – His reversal of death – is proof that He is the very Messiah of God.
d. While at Nain the widow’s was raised to life – he no doubt died again – Jesus is not done with Life Reining here. The widow’s son will live again.
(1) Jesus will touch the uncleanliness of death again.
(2) When He does – He Himself will become unclean.
(3) He will take the filth of sin and death upon Himself.
(4) This time the funeral procession will proceed.
(5) His bloodied, broken, lifeless body would be carried from the Cross to a rock hewn tomb.
(6) He would be buried.
(7) It would appear, as it did at Nain, that another widow’s only son was dead and gone forever.
(8) But just as the widow at Nain saw her son live again – so also would the widow Mary.
(9) For Christ who died, has been raised to life.
(10) Jesus ruined His funeral three days after it took place!
(a) The burial could not be finished.
(b) He commanded life – and death retreated.
(c) He emerged victorious over sin, death, and the devil.
(d) And unlike the widow’s son at Nain, Jesus did not and will not die again.
(e) Jesus resurrection ruined not just His funeral, but the funeral of all the faithful.
III. Jesus changes the funeral etiquette for us.
A. Like the widow’s son – we will all die.
1. Like that son, each of us is filled with the unclean filth of sin.
2. Eventually, that sin will kill us – our life on earth will end.
3. Our bodies will be carried out of the city for burial.
4. There will be crowds gathered to mourn our death.
5. Those gathered there will not expect to see us living again in the midst of our funeral procession, any more than those at Nain expected life in the midst of death.
6. But life is as certain for us as it was for the widow’s son the day of our text – and even more so.
7. For you see – your funeral is already over!
B. You have already died.
1. You have died.
2. You have been buried.
3. In Christ’s tomb.
4. Drowned in the Word drenched waters of Holy Baptism.
5. Yes – it is true – there in the font – you died and were buried.
6. Your funeral procession was on full display for all those gathered around to see.
7. And just like at Nain – Jesus ruined your funeral!
a. It was not at a city gate.
b. Rather it was in the bottom of a watery grave – filled with the filth of your sin that Jesus descended into that sinful uncleanness and spoke a Word of Life.
c. Jesus commanded Life and death retreated.
d. Jesus words sounded like this on the lips of your pastor – “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
e. Jesus marked you with His cross on your forehead and your heart and commanded Life – His Life.
f. And death retreated!
8. For out of that watery grave – Christ has raised you to life in Him.
a. You will, unless He returns before then, still die a physical death.
b. But you will NEVER die again – for Christ has raised you in His resurrection.
c. All that remains in your watery grave is your sin – made clean in the Blood of Christ.
d. Your tomb is empty just like Jesus’ tomb.
C. Physical death and your funeral.
1. Yes – you will die.
2. It will seem as though death retreated only to strike again at a more opportune time.
3. It will – as your family stands next to a hole in the ground seem like this time death as won – just like the widow thought at Nain.
4. But not so – no Christ has already raised you from eternal death.
5. Your grave is far less of a challenge – Jesus can and will raise you with a Word – just like the widows Son.
6. For Christ has died – Christ has been raised – and Christ will come again!
7. When Christ comes again – your funeral – no matter how long in the past will be ruined forever!
8. For when Christ comes again:
a. He will stand at your grave.
b. He will open it with a Word.
c. He will speak and you will be raised.
d. He will call out your name and say to you – “I say to you, be raised up.”
e. And you will be raised up!
D. For Jesus’ funeral etiquette is different!
1. Death does not reign at funerals that Jesus attends.
2. He stops death dead its tracks.
3. Jesus commands life and death retreats.
4. On the day of the LORD when Jesus the Christ of God commands Life – death will retreat once and for all – for death stands defeated – Christ is victorious.
5. Jesus has ruined every funeral including yours – Life reigns.
IV. So now our funeral etiquette is different.
A. Gone is the hopeless mourning.
1. We may weep for a time.
2. But Christ comes and says to us – “Do not go on weeping”
3. He comes and commands Life.
B. Gone are the empty platitudes and cliché comments
1. We recognize death as the terrible thing that it is.
2. We recognize that it is not a natural part of life.
3. We recognize that sin and death have their way for a time.
4. But in Christ – we do not mourn without hope.
C. No in the face of death we rejoice.
1. We rejoice in the Life in Christ.
2. We rejoice that Christ has commanded life and death has retreated.
3. We rejoice that Christ is raised and so also will the dead in Christ be raised.
4. We rejoice because we have already been raised.
D. With the crowd at Nain we confess:
1. “A great prophet has been raised up among us.”
2. “God has visited His people.”
3. And to the whole world we send the resounding message – Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Conc: Every event has proper etiquette. Funerals have proper etiquette! The proper etiquette for the Christian funeral – well it looks just like Jesus’ funeral etiquette, because Jesus is there! He is there having stopped death in its tracks. He is there having given His body and shed His blood. He is there having claimed the dead as His own. Indeed proper funeral etiquette is that Life is Commanded and death retreats and the faithful of God – they enter into eternal life and the Marriage Feast of the Lamb in His Reign which has no end. As those who have been raised to life, whose funerals have been ruined by Christ, gathered in the Divine Service there is a proper etiquette too – Come to the table of the LORD and receive His Body and His Blood poured out for you His resurrected people! Death has retreated! Christ has died! Christ has risen! Christ will come again! To Him be the Glory! Amen!