Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Death of My Wife's Beloved Father - Funeral Service

John 14:1-4
1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

2000 years ago, Jesus’ disciples also faced the gruesome reality of death.  Their hearts were gripped with sadness and fear.  They feared what would happen to them when Jesus died.  Yes they have heard by this time several times that Jesus would have to die.  Jesus Himself declared it.  The terror and horror of death overwhelmed their feeling and mind.  They could not hide it.  So Jesus had to calm His disciples.  This picture is most stunning because what usually happens is that the one facing death is the one in need of being calmed.  The usual happening is that the one facing death does not desire death.  He or she would repeatedly say: “I don’t want to die.”  This situation would prompt others to console the person dying so that he/she can face death in peace.  But in this passage we witness the one facing death, and not any common death, but the kind of death that is at the most severe in nature, consoling those whose lives were being spared.  This is most stunning!

Jesus was facing a certain death.  That’s His purpose coming to earth in the first place.  His death was not a natural death.  It was death as a cursed man.  It was death as a sacrifice.  Yet Jesus was so calm.  And He was comforting His disciples who were going to be left by Him.  Isn’t it what we also often experience when someone we love dies?  Our loved one leaves us in this cruel world.  The deceased person no longer feels any pain or difficulties of this earthly life, but we who are left continue to struggle with the heat of the day and the cold of the night.  The deceased person is no longer able to shed any tears, yet we who are living will continue to shed tears, sweat, and even blood, in order to survive this unforgiving landscape of life in the world.  And so, we, the ones left behind by the deceased, are troubled.  Our hearts are not at peace.  We can’t translate our feeling into words.  We don’t know what words would fit the agony of our souls.  The joy we shared with the deceased flashes before us very often in this time of mourning.  The memory of a long time ago with Papa Jue Hao come back to us in all its beauty puts an even heavier burden on our souls.  The recent memory of Papa Jue Hao’s struggle to come back to fit after the umpteenth stroke fill our mind that prompts our feeling of pity to Papa Jue Hao.  This too burdens our heart heavy.  Not to mention how Papa Jue Hao struggled his entire life in taking care of his family, whether his immediate family, or his bigger family including his parents, brothers and sisters, and even his in laws, add even more to the storage of our deep feeling and memory about Papa Jue Hao, a great man, a man of honor, a man of love, a man of integrity, a truly good man.  Papa Jue Hao has left us and we are in troubled.  I believe some of us even ask ourselves whether we have done enough to make Papa Jue Hao happy.  Perhaps many have regretted that often we have made him sad or mad during his life.  And so with these mixed feelings and thoughts we mourn as our hearts are greatly troubled.  We are searching for the ultimate answer.  Our troubled hearts are searching for the best closure possible.  The same as the disciples of Jesus experienced 2000 years ago.

Jesus’ consoled His disciples in the most remarkable way.  No one ever lives on earth can console anyone on the matter of death better than Jesus.  For He knows the end of all things.  For He knows exactly what He is talking about.  He doesn’t just possess knowledge being passed on by other people.  He doesn’t speak of things based on legend or myth or make belief or theories.  He speaks of a knowledge He alone understands perfectly and completely.  For Jesus comes from the place beyond all life on earth.  The content of His comforting words were amazing beyond what anyone can imagine.  Even now we are still having difficulty imagining what He said 2000 years ago.  Yet what He said is true.

1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

It all starts with believing in Jesus.  Jesus is the One who has come down from heaven.  And in His death He is going back to heaven – the Father’s house.  His death is the beginning, not the end.  His death is the beginning of life for His disciples.  Without His death no human being may truly live.  Because through His death His people will be pardoned from their sins for all eternity.  His death puts an end to the terror and horror of death forever.  The suspense of death and the uncertainty of the after-life is no more, engulfed in the death of Jesus.  For in leaving the earth, Jesus returns to His Father’s house to prepare His disciples room for them to stay with Him for eternity.  His death is the most remarkable death.  For His death is in tandem with His resurrection.  The death that we dreads all our life is conquered in His death.  His resurrection is the proof of His conquest.  Oh what a wonderful promise Jesus just made to His disciples.  His leaving earth is meant to prepare them a place to live forever with Him and His loving Father.  And what is more?  Jesus promised His disciples that when all is ready, He would come back to pick them up.  What promise can be greater than this?  What promise can be better than this?  The disciples were consoled.  Their hearts were lightened up.  The vision of the Father’s house now fill their minds and hearts.  They no longer were bogged down by the vision of death and uncertainty.  They saw the light, a glimpse of the eternal life they all dreamed about.  The ultimate closure they all longed for as their beloved Master walked the path of certain death.  For His death was necessary.  His death was for their good.  Jesus was like their travel guide who prepared their paperwork for the visa, for the plane tickets, for their accommodation while in the Father’s house, for being their tour guide who knew everything about the place they were heading to after death, who even knew the Father Himself – the owner of the eternal house.  Oh, their hearts were at peace.

            Brothers and sisters, in the same way Jesus has prepared a place for Papa Jue Hao.  And when all was ready for him, Jesus came to pick him up on Friday October 21 at 1 pm.  So Papa Jue Hao could be with Jesus where Jesus is, forever, for all eternity.  Gone is the pain.  No more suffering from difficulty breathing, from looking clearly with his eyes, from the struggle to utter a clear word, from the strive to stand up and walk, from holding the spoon and fork to eat his favorite food, from having the boring breakfast every morning, from the embarrassment of forgetfulness, from the humiliation of being helped to do all the personal things, and many other things unmentioned.  His dignity is restored to the fullest.  His honor is brilliantly radiating.  His frail body will be replaced once and for all by the glorious body that Jesus promised.  No more stroke.  No more heart attack.  No more pain.  The only tears there is the tears of joy.  Brothers and sisters, this is the vision of heaven.  Papa Jue Hao is in the Father’s house now, living there forever in shalom.  Therefore, don’t let your hearts be troubled.  Be at peace.  Be at peace knowing that Jesus has fulfilled His promise to Papa.  What can be better than this?

            Brothers and sisters, as you are still mourning the passing of Papa Jue Hao, have this vision of heaven in your heart.  This promise and vision is not just for the disciples, not just for Papa Jue Hao, but also for all of us.  All you need is to believe.  Papa Jue Hao does not just have the vision and the promise.  The disciples don’t just have the vision and the promise.  They all have experienced it full blown.  You too will experience it full blown as you believe.  Even though our earthly body will return to dust and ashes, our souls will return to the God of all, who is Spirit.  One day we will be reunited with Papa Jue Hao, and we will see once again his radiant smile that always filled his face.  Some will see him sooner, some later, but all will.  And most importantly, we will all be united with Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer and with God the Father of us all.  We will live with Him forever and ever in His eternal home.  This saying is true (Psalm 116:15):

15Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his saints.”

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