Earlier this week, I had the honor and privilege of celebrating the life of my Grandma’s sister Gertie. Over the past few years, I’ve grown closer to that part of my family through social media of all things. So when I heard the news of Gertie’s passing this past weekend, I made sure to clear my schedule so that I could be there to honor her memory and celebrate her life with those that knew and loved her.
As I sat there in the beautiful church, staring at the ornate cross in front of me, I was touched by the message of hope and redemption that the pastor shared at the service. There is just such a beautiful way that the horrific and painful death that we are remembering this Easter week softens and brings a bright light of hope to a funeral today. As we remember what Jesus Christ endured on the cross on this Maundy Thursday, let’s remember the why’s of what He did. Not only for Gertie, but for you, too!
In the old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see;
For twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and Died, to pardon and sanctify me.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.
As we sang this familiar old hymn at the closing of the service, I was moved to tears at the thought of Gertie laying all of her burdens down at the feet of Jesus. And how His suffering and dying was just for her. And it was just for you, too! When she passed from this world into a world that we can only begin to imagine, her Saviors arms welcomed her. His death on the cross was the punishment for all of the wrong-doings she did in this life.
All of her mistakes, all of her moments of carelessness.
All of her regrets were washed clean 2,000 years before she was even born!
Jesus Christ did this for every single person who chooses to believe that what He did was enough.
God, by His unending grace made a huge sacrifice that day on the cross. He suffered and died so that you can live. His gift of eternal life in Heaven is yours if you can accept that His punishment was payment enough for your mistakes.
There is nothing that you can do to earn it, He already paid for it.
But have you made a decision to accept it?
Have you told Him that what He did on the cross was enough?
Have you accepted that even though you are a human who makes mistakes, that through His sacrifice, He can make you spotless and pure before God?
When you believe in your heart and proclaim with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that what He did for you makes you pure and blameless in the eyes of God, you can be assured of your salvation. You can have the peace of mind of knowing that this life isn’t the end, and that when you pass from this place, you will walk straight into the arms of the one who paid the price for you.
No one can take that gift away from you once you accept it.
I told my Dad yesterday that when my day comes, I want my funeral to be a place where people know and understand that I was not a perfect person. That I had faults, quirks, that I made so many bad choices. But I have no fear of death. Because I know with assurance that Jesus blood has washed me clean, and that none of that will matter when I see my Savior face to face.
I look forward to the day when I’m reunited in heaven with my Mom and my beloved Grandma and Grandpa Timm. And I don’t hope that it will happen, I KNOW that it will. Because each of these three people who I love so much knew without a doubt that Jesus sacrifice was enough for them, too. They professed it with their mouths and knew it in their hearts.
Their lives were lived in gratitude of what He did for them.
And their lives showed ME who Jesus is through how they lived them.
Easter isn’t just about a cross or going to church. It’s so much more than that. It’s a reminder of a God who loves you so much that He took your punishment. And that is still every bit as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.
I’ll close with the words to another old hymn we sang at Gertie’s service this week:
I love to tell the story;
how pleasant to repeat.
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
the message of salvation, from God’s own Holy Word.