June 17, 2021

Milton William Johns Funeral

Passage: Psalm 119:103-104
Service Type:

Patricia Lois,
David, Mary and Cindy,
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 119th Psalm, verses 103-104.

103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.

In the name of Jesus, the Christ,
The One who makes us God’s Children,
Through Faith in what He has himself done –

Sweet. It’s a funny word, one that is used in different ways and applied to many different things.

“Sweet!” – We may use it to describe something inedible that we are fond of. “Did you see my new car? It is so sweet.”

“Sweet.” – We may use it of someone who is kind and considerate. “Did you see those flowers he gave me for our anniversary? He is so sweet.”

“Sweet” – We also use it to describe things that taste sweet to our taste buds. “Did you try the streusel kuchen? It is so sweet.”

For those of you who personally knew Milton Johns, you will agree that He was a sweet man, a very kind man. He was also known here at Calvary for passing out sweet things on Sunday. Milton would offer mints to anyone who asked for one. He would give tootsie pop suckers to the Sunday School Kids nearly every week. He didn’t do it to be noticed; it was just who he was.

He would probably be embarrassed if he knew that I was talking about those little sweet gifts. For as kind and considerate as he was, He did not believe that He was acceptable to God because he attended church, much less because He handed out mints and tootsie pops.

We tend to judge or at least grade people based on the things that we see from them, don’t we? In an emotional time like this we may talk about what a sweet man Milton was, based upon what we saw and heard from him.

But when God looked upon Milton Johns and when He looks upon us, He doesn’t see sweetness and light. We are all, without exception, born of sinful parents and inherit from them a fallen nature. We prove ourselves to be sinful by the things that we think, and do and say. Milton was no exception and neither am I and neither are you.

When we see one another, we see only the external.

When God looks at us, He sees everything. He knows what we think before we think it. He knows the sins we’ve committed in the dark and in secret. He knows what we say, even those things we speak to ourselves.

Milton Johns didn’t only come to this building to hand out candy. He came here because He knew that He was a sinner. He knew that his sins earned for him death eternal. So, he came here to confess his sins and seek sweet comfort from God’s Word. He came here to be told, “Jesus died to pay for your sins, Milton. You are forgiven.”

It’s far from ‘sweet’ to be told you are a sinner who has earned eternal death in hell. Praise God that His Law isn’t the only message found in His Word. We also find there the promise of God’s forgiveness in the Christ, the Promised Savior Jesus the Christ.

After all, it was the promise of God’s forgiveness that moved the Psalmist to write:

103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.

Now perhaps some of you are grumbling to yourselves, “What good did it do for Milton to hear the words of God? He still developed cancer, grew weak and died! What good did it do?

When Satan whispered to Milton, “You are a sinner. You deserve eternal death in Hell.” Milton could say, “That’s true, I do, but God made me his child and heir of life everlasting at baptism. He washed away my sins, all of them. He could do this because Jesus, my Savior, took them to Calvary and died for them.”

When his conscience reminded him of hurtful words spoken to wife and loved ones and of evil thoughts… Jesus comforted Him in the Sacrament of the Altar – received here and at his table in the apartment with wife and son, David, and heard these words of Jesus:
“This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” Go, my child, sins forgiven, at peace and pure.

When the world whispered, “You aren’t any better than anyone else.” Milton could say, “I don’t claim to be, but Jesus died for me and rose again the third day. By faith in Him, I am a forgiven child of God.”

No, life wasn’t always sweetness and light for Milton Johns. He often felt weak and sick the last few years. Pat was there to help and comfort him. Jesus was there too, standing beside his bed, counting down the days until He would see Him face to face.

The little mints will always remind me of Milton Johns. I’m guessing the tootsie pops will remind the kids of him for years to come. Sweets or not, they will learn to know Jesus like Milton knew Him.

Then one day – God willing - they will come to see Jesus like Milton does now.

In the meantime, we’ll focus on Jesus’ promises. They are especially sweet, because they aren’t only good for this present sour life, they are good for the future (John 11:25; 5:24).

“I am the Resurrection and the Life, He who believes in me though he may die, he shall live.”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

If you don’t find the Word of God sweet…perhaps you’ve not had enough of it or haven’t really tasted it. It won’t’ make you a good person, but God’s Word will introduce you to Jesus, who is perfect and pure, the way, the truth and the life, the only way to heaven.

I guess that’s why we find His Word so sweet;
sweeter even than mints and suckers.

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