“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” St John 8
Pedagogy, teaching, training, passing the mantle, instructing, making wise – the Scripture is replete with these ideas. There is knowledge to be possessed, that for most is certain – it is often the manner of acquisition where in the debates rage. And so Truth is often seen as is beauty that is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps you have heard it said this way – that may be true for you but… Or the every popular that’s your opinion. The skeptical consideration of truth is not an outcome of only modern society either. A certain Roman official questioned the same in about 30 A.D. “What is truth?”
In like fashion truth is questioned still today and perhaps even more than ever. Then, for all and sadly for you here today reality sets in – some truth will always remain however hard humanity strives to make it palatable or endeavors to deny it. One certain truth of life is that everyone will die. Ancestors have passed. Forefathers have been laid to rest. People cease to be. For you the truth is that husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend – Christian, Bob has died. That is pretty inescapable – both in terms of our thinking an in terms of our experience. And therein is the sting of the Law of God – death. Saint Paul writes to the Corinthian Christians and to us,
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
The law of God – yes, the command and commandment to do as God wills and works is good. The harsh reality of the Law is that we do not, we cannot keep it. And the consequence of the abrogation of the Holy and unchanging Law of God is evident – sadly it is as plain as the casket laid before you.
And so must we conclude that truth is simply the stark realization that all die? Certainly not, death is a reality – but Jesus Christ is the Truth. St. John in his Gospel records the words of Jesus that serves as a Spirit led comfort to you – Know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free. For St. Paul concludes his teaching about sin and death with these words,
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is the truth of Jesus Christ – rather the Truth Himself Jesus Christ that frees. Bob was well aware of the Truth of Jesus Christ. That Truth pervaded his life and teaching. Whether one is a public and professional educator or not the fact remains that all of us are always teaching someone, something – the only question is whether those subjects being taught are in line and in the light of the Word and will of Almighty God – I suppose that you need no reminder of the subject matter of Bob’s life…but just in case over the next days consider Bob’s obituary – teaching to the end.
Should we then end there with our romanticized memories and giddy thoughts of all the good that Bob was able to accomplish and teach? If so -- I and we have not learned well our lesson – for the lesson of the life of our deceased brother in faith Bob – is not what it is that he has accomplished but that which by faith was accomplished in him –
The truth of the lesson that lies in state before you is that sin and sinfulness find as its end death of the body and – and this is a true saying – without the One who is the Way, Truth and the Life death of the spirit.
Bob came to know the Truth that has upon his death set Him free through faithful teaching. Teaching that came to Him first in and through the cleansing waters of Holy Baptism – for on that Bob was enrolled in what one may rightly and faithfully call the school of the Holy Spirit. And his life from that day to the Saturday of his death was a matriculation in and through that institution of heavenly education. Through the faith engendered in him through Holy Baptism Bob came to know the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. He came to know the Truth and Jesus Christ set him free.
And do not be mistaken that the freedom your husband and father enjoyed came only through death – oh the ending of the struggle and suffering – while there is certainty that his suffering has ended – the freedom that Bob was taught and sought to exemplify and teach to you all – was displayed in the hopefulness that marked these final years. A person does not face his certain death with the candor, humor and ease that Bob did unless he knew and believed that he was set free from the condemnation and judgment that God metes out against sin –
Bob believed, taught and ever confessed the Truth revealed to him in Christ – that all who believe on Me though they die yet will they live. Christ Jesus takes the sin of the world upon Himself and in His death and resurrection life everlasting is won. That is the Truth – world, devil and sinful self can rail all they like - this is the Truth that sets you free.
In the end – that is when our blessed Lord returns to bring the culmination of our faith – the re-creation of all things in heaven and on earth – beloved husband, father, grandfather will return with our Lord Jesus. Body and soul once more reunited – he and we will stand before God Almighty – those who know and believe the Truth will be received into the heavenly city of God’s residence. The prophet Jeremiah teaches that in the great and terrible day,
“…no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”