On Saturday, I had the honor of conducting the graveside services of Brenda Bagwell’s mother, Otis James. Thanks to each in the church for all your encouragement to Brenda during this trying time.I appreciate Brenda’s love, faithfulness, and service to the Lord. She has been such a blessing to me and my family and the church. I am grateful that she would ask me to be apart of the service for her mother. Here is what I said:
John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible. It is also, perhaps, the most profound verse and the most comforting verse the Bible as well.
The reason Jesus wept was because of the death of his friend Lazarus. Even though Jesus knew that in a matter of minutes that Lazarus was going to be alive again. He knew that in a matter of minutes Lazarus would walk again. He knew that in a matter of minutes Lazarus would be talking again. Yet, he wept.
I think the crowd was right that day. They noticed Jesus weeping and they said, “See how he loved him.” And Jesus did love Lazarus. He was a good friend and a dear spiritual brother. He loved him and he wept for him.
And we weep today. Some weep for their mother, others for their sister, others for their grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great grandmother. Still others weep for a friend. And the weeping, the grief, and the sorrow today is because of your love for her.
But I do want to remind you that there is coming a day when every tear will be wiped away. Death will be removed. Pain and suffering will be abolished. There is coming a day when casket makers and grave diggers and funeral homes will be out of business. There is coming a day when we will never again have to attend a service like this one.
There is coming a day when the earth that will cover the grave of Otis James will be moved and the casket that holds her body will be opened and this body, the very body we bury today, will hear the words of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords say, Otis, come forth. And this body will get up, it will be glorified by the power of God, it will be reunited with her soul and spirit and she will worship, praise, and serve her Savior in the new Jerusalem for all eternity.
And the reason we have this blessed hope is because of Jesus Christ. Jesus came and he suffered, he bled, and he died a sacrificial death for us. In doing so, he took upon himself our sins and our guilt and our punishment. And he died so that we could live.
And three days after his death on the cross, he arose, becoming the first fruits of all those who will rise from the dead as well. Because they have trusted and put their faith in the work of Christ for their salvation.
And as the song says, What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see. When I look upon his face, the one who saved me by his grace. What a day, what a day, that will be.
Lord, we come to you in difficult circumstances. But we know that you understand how we feel today for you have not only dealt with the death of a loved one but you have experienced death as well. So you fully know the sorrow of each heart today. And you know how to help. In your death, O’Lord, you have brought the death to death for your people.
And my prayer is that you would extend your grace and mercy and that you would comfort and encourage those here today as you delight in the presence of Mrs. James today.
May each of us know that our only hope is in Christ so that when we must face our deaths, all will be well with our souls.
We praise you today! We exalt you today! And we rest our heavy hearts in your loving hands.
In the name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names, I pray. Amen!