Christian Funeral Service for Bob Richardson
Thursday, August 17, 2017 Text: Job 19:23-27 17:2025
Theme: I Know He Lives!
Often at the time of a funeral service, I have two things that I like to share. One is a question concerning the one who has passed away; the other is a story about him. So, first the question: What one word would you pick that best describes Bob to you?
The first word that came to my mind was “mellow.” I’m not sure that I ever saw Bob get upset or act in an overly excited way. Bob was just always “Bob” to me – steady, mellow, not overly animated, often quiet, perhaps somewhat reserved, standing back. But, he was usually smiling at me, like he had something up his sleeve that he might pull on me, or he would say something in a dry way that would make me chuckle. Here’s an example.
Last night my wife Elizabeth told me that Bob said, “The best thing that ever happened to Pastor Lehmann was Liz.” Well, I chuckled when I heard that, but I also had to agree with it. And I picture him saying that in his very mellow, smiley way.
Secondly, I might tell people a memory that I have of the one who has passed away. The memory I have of Bob took place some twenty years ago. In those earlier years Bob and Rich Pedersen often mowed the church lawn together. Bob was tall; Richard was short. Bob’s taller frame would be hunched over the steering wheel of one lawn tractor and Richard’s diminutive profile sat up straight on the other. It was like a Mutt and Jeff team, speeding back and forth across the lawn. It was comical and made me chuckle. I think Bob made me chuckle a lot. Here’s another example.
When he was in the hospital a few years ago, I asked him how he felt and to my surprise he burst out in the song: “I feel good.”
When you have such good memories of dear friends, on the one hand it’s hard to see them end, but on the other hand it’s easy and it’s a time for rejoicing not just because you have a lot of good memories of someone, but because, above all else, you know that person knew the Savior and now lives with Him.
I. It all comes down to the truth that Job confessed in our text when he said, “I know that my Redeemer lives!” Those are words of a greatly loved Easter hymn that we sing in spring and will sing at the
end of our worship today.
Easter is always a joyful time. Even the world, which knows little to nothing of the real meaning of Easter, catches some of its joy. But we Christians really get to appreciate what it means to have a Redeemer who rose from the grave when we come to times like these, when we must see a friend we love lying still in death. Then these words truly have meaning for us!
This is when we learn to say from the depths of our hearts, “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co.15:57). This is when we understand what the Apostle Peter meant when he said, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you” (1:1:3). This is when we truly comprehend what a glorious privilege it is to say: I Know My Redeemer Lives!
It was Job who first spoke these words. They were said at a time of great grief for him as he endured the loss of his family. But in the midst of that pain, he had no doubt about the fact that he had a living Redeemer. “I Know that My Redeemer Lives!” he said.
Notice that he did not say, “I think He lives!” or “I sure hope He lives!” or “It would seem like He lives!” No! Job proclaimed loudly and clearly in the midst of his pain, “I Know He Lives!”
You see, when you stand face to face with death, vague generalizations, pious platitudes, and eloquent eulogies just won’t do. We want to know! We want to be sure! Job was.
And by God, through His mercy and grace, we, too, without any hint of hesitation can join good old Job today in saying, “I Know that He Lives!” You can be sure because God said so. This is eternal truth. Hold fast to it in faith! Rejoice in it in Christ!
II. It’s an important thing for us to say and believe, for our hope for eternity, like Bob’s hope, is tied to Him. If Christ is not raised from the dead, then our whole Christian religion is a fraud. If He is not raised from the dead, our faith is nothing but a deception. If He is not raised from the dead, we have no hope and we are, like Paul says, “of all men most miserable…for if Christ has not been raised our faith is futile; we are still in our sins” (1Co.15:17f).
But God has promised that the resurrection of Christ is true. It
is the guarantee that Jesus is not a failure and not a false Savior.
– He came into this world to save us from our sin when we
– were powerless to do anything.
– He came into this world to destroy the works of the devil in each of us when we were in bondage to him.
– He came into this world to justify us before God when we were guilty and would have been condemned before Him.
– He came into this world to free us from the sting of death.
When He died to take the punishment of our sin on Himself, and when He rose from the grave to overcome death in our place, Christ Jesus guaranteed where we would stand before God now and in eternity. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” So then “whoever believes shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.” It’s important for us to know and to believe: He Lives.
III. That’s what your husband, your dad, and our friend did – believed with his heart. He loved you Norine; he loved you, Wade; he loved his friends here at Zion; he loved you all. I often could see that love in him during either his or your hospital stays, Wade. His love was shown in his concern for you. But Bob first loved and believed in the Savior. Scriptures say, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scriptures say: ‘Everyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame’” (Ro.10:8f).
Bob Richardson is not put to shame – not because he was such a good man. No, Bob knew his sins. He knew his failures. But he also knew that he was washed clean in the blood of Christ. He confessed that truth and as a result now rejoices, “O death, where is your sting; O grave, where is your victory? Thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Co.15:55).
Here, dear friends, is comfort and strength for your moment of heartache and sorrow. Rejoice in saying with Bob, “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.”
He Lives and the one who believes in Him lives with Him and never more dies. And for Bob I think of a couple other words that best describes him to me now as he stands before God’s throne above – “happy,” “content,” “at rest in His Savior.” God grant us in faith comfort and joy for our friend now fallen asleep in Jesus’ name. Amen.