I must begin this sermon with a confession. I did not know Annis all that well. I talked with her a few times on the phone when she called on Norman’s behalf. I spoke to her briefly on those times when I came by to pick up Norman and take him somewhere. That was about it. Most of the things I know about Annis come from conversations that I had with her son, Norman.
We don’t have time today to talk of all the things that Norman told me about his mother. I can only give you an example of the conversations we had about her.
When we were preparing for this service, I asked Norman about favorite hymns and Bible passages. It is a question that I ask when preparing for a funeral. Many times, people have to confess that they didn’t really talk about hymns or Bible passages in their daily lives. When I asked Norman about hymns, he gave me more favorites than we had time to sing today. When I asked about Bible passages, he gave me more favorite passages than we had time to read today. Norman and I had to narrow it down from Annis’ many favorites.
As I looked at the passages that Norman told me were her favorites, a theme did stand out. It is a theme that faithful pastors like to see because it is a theme from which we can take great comfort on days like today. The passages indicated that Annis knew she was a sinner saved by the grace of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. According to her favorite passages, Annis knew that there was nothing in her character or her actions that merited eternal life. Instead, her favorite passages teach that she has eternal life for the sake of character and work of Jesus Christ.
In the second Gospel that I recently read, we heard the words of Jesus Christ Himself as He promised to prepare a place for us and then return to take us to live with Him. That is what has happened for Annis. Her favorite passages of the Bible tell us that she is now with her Savior and waits for that final day when He will raise her body to immortality and reunite her body and soul into eternal life.
If you ask how this can be, the Bible has the answer. Jesus Christ is not only the one who made the promise, but He is also the one who paid the price. Jesus Christ is no mere man, but He is also the very Son of God as the Bible says, [John 3:16–18] 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
By far and away, the largest section of all four Gospel accounts deals with the price Jesus paid for us. The Bible tells us that Jesus allowed mere mortal men to arrest Him and torture Him. He allowed those men to nail Him to a cross and let Him hang on that cross until He died. As He hung dying on that cross, Jesus endured the total punishment of sin. His suffering paid the penalty for us all. His suffering purchased our eternal joy.
His victory on the cross was so complete that death was unable to hold Him. He demonstrated His victory by rising from the dead. He became the first to rise to immortality and He promises to raise us in the same way on the Last Day.
This is the promise that Annis heard in her favorite Bible passages. This is the promise that Jesus gives to you on this day … the promise of comfort for Annis and the promise of comfort for you.
There is one other thing that I want to share with you today. As I was driving Norman down to the hospital in Urbana in order to be with his mother, we had time to talk. One of the things I can share with you from that conversation is that Norman kept telling me that he did not expect this. Every five or ten minutes, he would say something like, “I didn’t know this was going to happen when I got up this morning.”
Jesus said, [Luke 12:40] “You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” The Holy Spirit also inspired the Apostle Paul to write, [1 Thessalonians 5:2] “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” And [2 Corinthians 6:2] “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
The Bible passages that Norman said were his mother’s favorite tell me that Annis is at Jesus’ side waiting for the Day of Resurrection. I know that she will want to see all of you there on that Last Day. God turns to you with His friendly heart and invites you to believe in His Son for the forgiveness of all your sins and the certainty of eternal life. [Acts 16:31] Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. Don’t put it off. You don’t know what the day will bring.
For now, Annis waits at her savior’s side. We wait here on this earth. It is natural for that separation to produce grief. It is right to grieve for the time being. Never the less, there is also comfort for those who believe in Jesus Christ. For we know that the Grief is temporary. We know that we shall see Annis again along with all those who died with faith in Jesus Christ. We know that all those who have the Holy Spirit’s gift of faith will one day gather with the Lord in eternal life. The day is coming when we shall hear the [Revelation 21:3–4] loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
[Revelation 22:20] Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Amen
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