“If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:12-17)
What can we say? Every funeral is like a reality check for us all. That’s right. And especially in situations like this one with Ron, when no one expected this might happen.
So often we go on with our lives, we are busy with our daily problems, pursuing our daily goals, focused on ‘here and now’ as if this life is all that there is. Don’t get me wrong. This life is important, very important.
We all have so many tasks, so many responsibilities, and we are needed to so many people. This life is important, and we need to do our best to live it properly, but fortunately – this life is not all that there is.
Ron knew it very well. And when you know that there is going to be life after our time here, it changes everything. It gives you freedom to live and enjoy good gifts that God has given to us.
But it doesn’t last. Then we are confronted with death, and we are almost forced to ask so called ‘big questions’ about our lives. About who we are and what happens after this life.
There are experiences which are common to all people, truly universal. One of them is this knowledge that there is someone, or at least something higher. Some kind of higher being. This knowledge is, we can say, built into us. We all have it.
Sure, often we have no idea who this highest being is, but we can almost sense the reality of this being. The next thing which we have in common is the sense of accountability.
You may not know who this higher being is, but we all have built into us this mechanism of accountability. We call it conscience. It is tricky. Some kind of voice which speaks within us, knowing all our thoughts and desires.
Higher being, accountability, and then we can add the third – Solomon called it ‘eternity in our hearts’. For we all seem to know that this life is not all that there is. There is something more to come.
We see how everything change, but our self-conscience remains the same. It feels like we travel through this world towards… towards something that awaits us when our time here is over.
Then we are confronted with death. This is the moment when all of these experiences become relevant. This is the moment when our time here is over, and we need to give an account.
This is the moment when our consciences can get really troubled. For if only we are honest about ourselves, if only we realize that our accountability includes not only deeds or lack of them, but also words, thoughts and desires, there are good reasons to be troubled.
At that moment we need to hear from God Himself. What He has to say. Ron choose this verse for his funeral himself.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
We need to understand why Jesus Christ, the Son of God came. He didn’t come to remind you how imperfect you are. No! We know it anyway. He didn’t come to search for good people among us either. Then why did He come?
What was He looking for? He was looking for you. He came for you. For each of you. Not because you are such a good person. No! But because He knows how much you need Him and because He knows what He can make out of you.
When you are cleansed from all your sins, when you are restored and made perfect in His presence, He knows how beautiful you will be, how much you will enjoy His company and He yours. This is why He came – looking for you.
Why would you believe it? Good question. All of this is strange. Especially if you are not a Christian. I agree. This is why Jesus reminded us about Moses and snakes. Do you know this event? I guess many of you do.
The nation of Israel was in the wilderness and many of them got bitten by snakes for they were rebellious towards God. Then God commanded Moses to make a bronze snake, put in on a poll and lift it up. A bronze snake…
Whoever, from those who were bitten, would look at this snake, would be saved. Doesn’t make sense. Why would someone be saved looking at the bronze snake?
Because God promised so. And whoever looked at the snake was saved. It is how it works with this God. He doesn’t ask what seems reasonable to us. He gives His promises and that should suffice.
And He is faithful in keeping His promises, o yes. Now He has given this promise to you. If you look at crucified Jesus raised high up, and trust that because of Jesus God forgives you whatever you have done wrong, you have peace with God.
Then you will have a good conscience, and certainty about what is going to happen when your time is over. For Jesus has taken care of it.
Then you know that, despite of what you have been or done, you will be with your Father in heaven, forgiven, restored and so loved. For Jesus has taken care of it.
Once you trust it, once you know it, it changes your life here right away. It makes it much more peaceful, colourful and meaningful. As I said, Ron himself choose this verse from John’s Gospel for his funeral.
But he also added a few thing to this verse. This is what he wrote: “For God so loved the world that He have us His Son and … family, and friends, and opportunities, and health, and music and books, and so on.”
He gave and He gives us all of this and much more, and once you know that God loves you and has prepared much more in the world to come you can truly enjoy your life here.
Ron used to watch evening sun setting down and colouring gum trees in beautiful gold. Then he would ask: “Do you think it will be even better in the heaven?” The answer is ‘yes, it will be even much better, for we will finally see Christ as He is.’
I pray that you would all have the same peace and assurance that Ron had, knowing that God so loves you that He gives you not only this life with all its blessings and joys, but also His Son so that you can have eternal life with Him.