Michael Arthur McCarty Funeral
Jim and Cheryl,
Family and Friends,
Members of Calvary Lutheran Church,
The Word of the Living God to which I direct your hearts and minds this morning is taken from the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, verse 11-15:
11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” 12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.
14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”
In the name of Jesus,
The Friend of Sinners,
The Redeemer of Humankind –
When the LORD Jesus walked this earth in human flesh and blood, He had disciples, followers, acquaintances, and helpers…but Jesus only called a small handful of people ‘friend.’ He called his disciples his friends (cf. John 15:15). He was criticized for being a ‘friend’ to tax collectors and sinners (cf. Matthew 11:19).
One of the few people that Jesus called a friend was a man named Lazarus. Lazarus lived in a small village called Bethany, about 2 miles east of Jerusalem.
When Jesus’ friend Lazarus fell sick, his sisters sent word to Jesus, asking that He come to visit His friend.
When Jesus and His disciples made plans to go to Lazarus, Jesus’ friend was already dead. For when Jesus heard that His friend was sick, He didn’t immediately depart with haste, He finished the important work that He was doing.
When people learn this fact, they are quick to criticize Jesus. They wag their chins like so many today and say: “If Jesus really loved Lazarus…he’d have come right away. He’d have never let Lazarus die.
Those on the outside ask, “What good is it to be Jesus’ friend?’
Well, some might say the same thing today. Mike McCarty had many different friends, some well-known, some unknown; but Jesus was the friend that He turned to when his father and mother and uncle died. Jesus was the friend that Mike turned to in daily devotion and prayer. Jesus was the friend that Mike turned to when he was in pain, when he knew that his time in the body was drawing to a close.
What good did it do to have Jesus as his friend? Where was Jesus when the gout flared up? Where was Jesus when he was diagnosed with cancer? Where was Jesus when Mike writhed in pain on his hospital bed and at the medical care facility?
So maybe some of you are thinking, “Some friend Jesus was to Mike.” What kind of Friend lets his friend be develop cancer, waste away and die?
“Some good it did to have Jesus’ as a friend!”
What benefit came to Mike from being Jesus’ friend?
Mike McCarty was a nice man with kind parents. Mike was also a sinful human being. God’s Law demanded that Mike love God and everyone else with a perfect self-less and self-sacrificing love. Since Mike McCarty couldn’t be sinless – Jesus, His friend came down from heaven, entered human flesh and lived without sin as Mike’s perfect substitute and yours.
Jesus is the friend that Mike and every sinner needs above all. Jesus is the only friend who can hold our hand and lead us through death to life.
What good did Jesus do for Mike McCarty?
When his father Michael and mother Lena brought their infant son to be baptized December 21st 1941, it was Jesus that cleansed him of his sin.
When Mike was a young man, it was Jesus who put his hand on his shoulder and through the scriptures pointed to the Cross, to the place where payment was made from his every sin. It was Jesus who prompted his confession of faith on his confirmation, July 17th 1955.
It was Jesus – not the pastor - who promised Mike on his hospital bed, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. I go to prepare a place for you.”
It was Jesus – not the pastor – who promised on the day of his death, “I am the Resurrection and the Life, He who believes in me though he may die, he shall live; and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”
It is Jesus’ Death and Resurrection that made Mike’s death temporary and the door through which he entered eternal life.
Why are we here today? Are we here because Mike called the pastor a friend? Mike is my friend, but that’s not why we are here. In the end it doesn’t matter if I am your friend.
We are here today because Mike confessed that He trusted in Jesus…and Jesus counted Mike a friend.
Mike suffered at the end of his life – I don’t deny it – but Jesus His friend suffered alone on Calvary while being burdened with Mike’s sins and yours and mine. Then Jesus rose again the third day to confirm that Mike’s debt was paid and that he too would rise from the dead.
Where was Jesus?
If you had asked Mike…then He might have told you that Jesus was right there at his bedside. Jesus was always there for Mike…and if you visited him down on the end of the alley off Prospect…you saw the evidence on his kitchen table. There under his prayer book and catechism was his Bible.
Oh, I see you say – Mike was a good man because He read that book, eh? Well, no. Daily reading those books didn’t make him a good person…but they told him about his perfect friend, his substitute Jesus.
Is Jesus your friend?
What kind of a friend? Is Jesus just an acquaintance or a close, personal friend? Is He a friend you visit once in a while…or one whose word you listen to and with whom you communicate every day?
He wants to be your best friend. He wants you to trust in Him and through His Word be sure your sins are forgiven. He wants to hold your hand through life and through death. He is the only one who will always be there for you.
He is the only friend who can promise heaven and deliver.
Jesus could have kept Lazarus and Mike from dying…but instead He chose to deliver Lazarus and Mike from death once and for all by His own death.
So, you know how this account ends, right? Jesus stood at Lazarus’ grave and said, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus arose…and came out to greet his friend.
The same Jesus will one day call Mike McCarty from his grave. He will rise and be glorified, perfectly fitted for life eternal.
All thanks to His Friend, Jesus.