“Our Only Hope”
Introduction: Dearest Hallie, and the family and friends of Aline. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We didn’t expect to be here today did we? Only a few short weeks ago and Aline was healthy and full of vim and vigor. Then suddenly she became ill, and bed ridden. She still had plenty of pep and kick, if you know what I mean. Then, just as suddenly and unexpectedly Aline died. We have come together in this place to mourn and shed tears of grief. We have come to remember Aline and the wonderful gift of God that she was to each and everyone of us. We have come here to celebrate her life, which God gave her in Jesus Christ. It was a life that was centered on Jesus Christ in whom Aline found hope. We are here because we need hope to, especially at this time and in the days and weeks and months to ahead. We have gathered here because we, like Aline, know that Jesus Christ is our only hope.
I. Jesus - Our Only Hope in Life
In our text for today, we have the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They were quite ordinary people as far as we know. Their lives however became quite extraordinary when Jesus came to them where they lived in the town of Bethany. Jesus became a part of their lives. He spent time with them, teaching them the Holy things of God. He did ordinary things with them like eating and drinking. It is obvious that Jesus loved them. They in return loved Him. Jesus came to them where they were at in the world, simply struggling to live in a world filled with adversity and pain. In Jesus and in His Word they found hope – to live.
Jesus came into Aline’s life. When she was baptized she became His – forever. From that moment on Jesus entered into her ordinary life and made it extraordinary. From that moment on He never left her. At her mother and Fathers feet and in church, right next to you Hallie, she was taught about her own sinfulness and about the grace of God. She sat at the feet of Jesus when she listened to her pastor preach. He taught her the holy things of God. She came to know her loving savior who had to lay His life down on the cross to pay for her sins and to give her life and to give her hope. In an ordinary way she regularly came to the Lord’s table. There she received the extraordinary gifts of His body and blood through which she knew that she received His forgiveness and eternal life. Aline faithfully came to worship and Bible study all her life. I will never forget the questions she asked, they were always interesting. Aline lived out her faith in Christian service and generosity.
II. Jesus - Our Only Hope in Suffering and Death
There are many things in life that can cause people to despair and loose hope. All of them are the result of man’s sinfulness. Sickness and death are two of those things. When Lazarus had become sick, Mary and Martha called for the Lord to come to Him. They believed that Jesus had the power to heal. Possibly they had seen Him work other miracles. Maybe they just believed Jesus Word and the truth that he had told them about Himself. Perhaps Jesus would heal their brother Lazarus? Jesus did come but it seemed too late. Martha greets the Lord with these words, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” In this life, even when we have faith, sometimes we have doubt and uncertainty about our Lords power and will. During our final conversations Aline spoke with certainty that she knew the Lord could heal her. Even with this faith she wondered why there didn’t seem to be a miracle for her right now. She didn’t want to die and she feared it. It is sometimes hard to wait on the Lord and to trust in His timing. I reminded her that God loved and cared for her. She believed.
III. Jesus - Our Only Hope of Eternal Life
Jesus said, “ I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” In the midst of our fear and doubt an uncertainty we can be certain of one thing. There is healing for Aline and for us. Aline has been healed. She is with our Lord as He has been with Her everyday of her life. Now she waits for the resurrection of her body. Just as our Lord Jesus physically rose from the dead, she to will rise. We too, have been healed and we have life now and forever because we have been forgiven. Jesus died on the cross for us. There He took our sickness and death upon Himself. The scriptures say that by His stripes, the shedding of His blood we are healed. And some day all who believe shall be joined together with the Lord. Oh what a day that will be!
Conclusion: Jesus calls us to believe in Him, that He is the Son of God who is to come into the world. He came to Mary, Martha and Lazarus. He came to Aline. And He comes to us now in this place through His word. He loves and cares for you. He is with you. Remember this in the days ahead as you grieve. Aline found hope in Jesus. He is our only hope now and forever. Amen.
Now, may the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.