Text: John 14:1-6
Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. May the peace of Christ’s resurrection be especially of comfort to you, [family names] and all family and friends of Name. Because Christ lives, Name yet lives; and we will, too.
We have a wonderful and very comforting set of readings for our hearing this morning. In the Old Testament, the ministry of our Lord Christ was foretold centuries before it came to pass. He opened the eyes of the blind, unstopped the ears of the deaf, caused the lame to go leaping like deer, and the tongues of the mute to shout for joy. In the Epistle, St. Paul encourages us that those who have gone before us in the Christian faith are not dead, but will be raised together with us at Christ’s return and – together – we “will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17 English Standard Version) In the Gospel, Jesus comforted the Disciples by assuring them that He was going to the cross to prepare a place for them in heaven, and would also take them there Himself. There is a thread which runs through these that I’d like us to consider this morning. Christ has prepared a place for all Christians in His heavenly home. He has gathered Name to His side, and will return for us, as well, that where He is, we shall be, also.
This is the comforting word which our Lord gave His Disciples that Thursday night. The Gospel reading this morning comes from Holy Thursday, shortly after the institution of the Lord’s Supper. In just a short while, Jesus would be betrayed into the hands of sinful men. The disciples would be scattered, He would be flogged and beaten, and, eventually, crucified. Nothing like all this had ever faced the Disciples before. They followed the Lord for three years. They were three years of miracles and teaching; no one ever touched them, so long as they were with Jesus. That would change. Their Lord would be parted from them, they would be filled with fear, and they would suffer. This much, Jesus was telling them that Thursday evening. But, then He said,
Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.John 14:1-3
Jesus was allowing Himself to be parted from the Disciples so that He might secure for them a place which they had lost. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed the Lord’s Commandment in the Garden of Eden. They doubted and distrusted His Word, and caused all human beings born from them to have the same sinful heart by nature. The punishment for this is death. But, Christ allowed Himself to be parted from the Disciples so that He might also submit Himself to death – our death, in fact. Jesus Christ is the sinless Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered and died as the full atonement for all human sin. By His death, He secured for us what we by nature lost: room in the Father’s house, a place in heaven.
Heaven is that place Isaiah prophesied, where blind eyes are opened, weak hands are strengthened and feeble knees made firm. This is the place where there is only everlasting joy, gladness, and singing. For in heaven, in the presence of Christ, there is no sin. There is no sadness. There is no death. There, all sorrow and sighing flee away. And, there, Arlene is.
Name was born [date]. She was reborn through the washing of Holy Baptism on [date] that same year. She received the gift of faith through that sacred bath, and Christ claimed her as His own. Having prepared a place for her by His own death and resurrection, our Lord sustained Name in the faith throughout her life. She publicly confessed her faith in [year], and received Christ’s body and blood for the forgiveness of her sins for over 80 years. The Lord blessed her with a husband, Name, on Easter Sunday [year]. From their union came two children: [Names]. The Lord bestowed many blessings upon Name throughout her earthly life and, through her, has given many blessings to others, as well. Now, He has gathered her to the place prepared for her from before the foundation of the world.
Name is now in the presence of Christ and rejoicing with all the company of heaven. The promise that He made to her in Baptism, He has kept. He secured for her a place in heaven and has taken her there. She awaits with joy our reunion, and the Resurrection at Christ’s return. This is how St. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians and us to comfort each other. Those who precede us in the faith are not dead. They are with Christ, in the place He prepared for them by His own death and resurrection. Someday soon, He will return – just as He also promised. We will see Him coming on the clouds. Then, our bodies will be raised and renewed. Should we be alive at His coming, we will be caught up together with Name, and with our Lord. And we will be with Him forever.
This is a thread that connects our readings, a thread which gives us comfort so that, though we grieve, we grieve in hope. Our lives now are filled with trials and tribulations, with sin and the sorrow it brings. Yet, the Lord has prepared for us, for Name, and for all who love Him, a place in His Father’s house. There, there is no sorrow, pain, weakness, sin or death. For He makes all things new. By His death, Jesus paid for our sins and secured the place which we lost. He has brought Name to the place He prepared for her. Soon, He will return to take us Christians there, too. Jesus said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me.”