Monday, March 19, 2018

Sermon for Wes Bode

Sermon for Wes Bode – March 19th, 2018 – John 12:20-26

In the Name of Christ the Crucified +
Sue, Brenda, Denise, and Karen, family and friends of our brother in Christ Wes, grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Right here on this pulpit there is a little plaque, one that I see every time I preach or work on a sermon. It simply says, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” We wish to see Jesus. It is a reminder to me and to anyone else given by God the task of preaching in this pulpit that the people who are gathered here in this place need to see Jesus. Wes Bode is a man who wished to see Jesus. He was baptized into Christ Jesus, and He longed to hear Jesus' Word proclaimed, to receive Christ's Body and Blood in the Supper. Wes would see Jesus.

That phrase “we would see Jesus” comes from our Gospel lesson in John. And during holy week, hearing that some Greeks wished to see Him, Jesus responds with these words: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” They would see Jesus, they would be around later on that week and see Jesus lifted up on the Cross. Jesus' glory wouldn't be shown in another healing or turning water to wine or feeding a bunch of people, but Jesus' glory would be shown in dying, dying for their sins and for our sins, dying to cleanse us and to restore us to God the Father. That is the Jesus the Wes longed to see. That crucified Jesus who forgave Wes, and not only that, but the Jesus who gave Wes His own life, filled Wes with love and faith and hope, gave Wes blessing after blessing. And in faith, united to that Jesus – tied to Jesus by the waters of Holy Baptism, Wes had confidence all His earthly days, and even confidence to appear before the judgment seat of Christ – because Christ Jesus had already done it all for Wes and through Wes and in Wes, and Wes longed to see Him.

Jesus continues, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” Wes exemplified this, but I want you to hear Jesus' words correctly, because Jesus here uses a Hebrew turn of phrase that we can misunderstand. In this Hebrew phrase love and hate aren't used to describe emotions, but rather priority and choice. In the Hebrew way of speaking, at a restaurant you would say, “The Chicken noodle soup I have loved, the salad I have hated.” That doesn't mean you're on a rampage against lettuce, it means when the waitress asked you picked, you choose, you placed a greater value and priority on the soup. You might really enjoy salad, but now the soup. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. All of his days, not just these last few years which were so physically rough on Wes, but all of his days Wes loved Christ Jesus moreso than just the trappings of his earthly life. And in fact, because Wes loved Christ, because his focus was upon Christ Jesus Wes could receive and enjoy the blessings God had given him. Wes greatly enjoyed and delighted in what God had given him. Wes delighted in you – Wes saw you rightly as a gift from God to him. He was free in Christ to simply enjoy being with you and serving and loving you.

See, there are two ways that we can handle and receive gifts from God – be they our life, our family and friends, jobs, what have you. We can be focused primarily on the gift, or we can be focused primarily on the God who gives the gift. If we focus on the gift, if we “love our life” we end up losing it. We grasp on to it, we become jealous and fearful and worried and we don't enjoy it. We turn the blessings in idols, and everything sours and gets dominated by fear and anger and sin. However, when by the gift of faith you love the Giver, love God first rather than your life, then you have that life forever, because you are always in and with God who loves to give you blessings. And that's why Wes had such peace – because His focus was upon Christ Jesus who had given Him all these blessings, the Jesus who had given Wes you – and nothing would change Christ's love for Wes. Not sin, not death, not even a body falling apart. Jesus knew all of this was coming, and Jesus faced all this down in His own body precisely because He loved Wes and would not dream of letting His Wes face that alone. Christ Jesus was and is with Wes.

And Jesus continues to bless Wes. Right now, this instant, Wes is with Christ Jesus, doing better than any of us have seen Him. And the day will come when Wes will rise – on his own two feet, I might note – and Wes and Job and you and me and all the faithful will behold our Redeemer face to face, in our own resurrected bodies with our own eyes. Do you see – Jesus continues to give blessing after blessing to His people. There was no need for Wes to turn (say) age 84 into some idol to strive after – for His Lord Jesus is a wonderful Savior and a giver of great and mighty gifts – gifts not just for a day or a few years or even an earthly life time, but a giver of gifts that last for eternity. Jesus is your Redeemer as well, who forgives your sins and gives you life and salvation by His word of forgiveness, and who gives you life everlasting with Himself and Wes and all the saints. And when we see Christ Jesus, when our eyes are fixed upon Him, we get a taste, an experience of that lasting peace even now.

If anyone serves Me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Wes was given the gift of faith, and he served and followed Christ Jesus. And having died, Wes will follow His Lord and Master Christ Jesus into the Resurrection. Our brother Wes is well taken care of, well honored by God right this moment. So while we mourn, we know that in Christ Jesus our loss is only a temporary one, and that because of Christ Jesus and in Christ Jesus, we have the certain hope of resurrection and reunion. God grant us His Word and Spirit, that we ever more love God until we see that day. In the Name of Christ the Crucified +

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