We are gathered here in the name of Jesus. We are servants of the Lord Jesus, who is the universal Lord. We are servants of Jesus Davidson, who was a particular man from the town of Nazareth. He had a particular lineage, a particular mother, a particular synagogue that He attended as a boy, and so on.
Because of this (and only because of this), Christians are able to celebrate both universals and particulars, general timeless truths and particular concrete facts, and we can celebrate them comfortably as realities that live in peace together. Because of this, we can honor all life generally, and we can assemble to honor a particular life—in this case, the life of our friend and fellow servant, Mike Rench.
Because of Jesus, all of these things are tied together. Without Jesus, we can be attached to particular things (and lives), but have no way of giving those lives any ultimate meaning. We have no way to bundle anything together—the universe is not a universe at all, but is rather chaos. The image of tons of confetti dumped into a super-tornado fails as an image because that would be too orderly and coherent. Without Jesus, we are without God and without hope in the world. Without Jesus, random rules, which means that nothing rules.
But without Jesus, we can err in the other direction as well. We can lose ourselves in abstractions, higher physics, and other arcana that brilliant men like to play with, but we have no way to bring it in for a landing. We can’t bring it down here. We can construct a grand scheme for all things, but because that grand scheme of ours is not seated at the right hand of God the Father, it staggers and falls. Our unified theories are a lame god, like Vulcan, and cannot come down here, where we live.
And so without Jesus, nothing ties together. Nothing fits. Nothing works. Nothing hangs together. Nothing tastes.
The Lord Jesus is the one in whom all things hold together—He is our gravity, He is our arche, He is our strong force at the sub-atomic level, He is the unfenced boundary between future and past, He is the marriage of Heaven and earth—He is Immanuel. That is to say, He is God with us.
And there is more. For our consolation, to be remembered at events of grieving celebration like this one, He is the one who stretched out His arms on the cross, took death in His left hand and everlasting life in His strong right hand, and made a way through for us. That cross where He died was the confluence of all our guilt, the intersection of all our malice and hatred, the dumping ground of all our lusts—the place where God made Him who knew no sin to become sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
The Lord Jesus took our sins away with His left hand, and gave us everlasting righteousness, justification, and light with His right hand. This is beyond a miracle, because both of those hands were nailed in place, and you would think He could not take or give anything. No—because they were nailed in place in submission to the holy will of a holy Father, they were capable of giving us all things. Everything comes to us from Him on that basis—He gives with nailed hands. He is our yes, He is our amen, He is our life. This is not trifling or playing around with poetic images—Scripture itself compares His riven body to a torn curtain, by which we may enter the Holiest of all Holy Places.
Speaking of this glorious exchange, righteousness for sin, Jesus was the very one who chased the money-changers out of the Temple. But He was the true Temple, and so we should also see in a type that He is the only true money-changer. Jesus is the only altruistic currency exchange. He was chasing the mountebanks out of the Temple to make room for Himself, the only money-changer in the history of the world who offered these sorts of rates. He took the tawdry and corrupt currency of our iniquities, and the stinking wallets of our lusts, and offered us in free exchange the gold coins of the New Jerusalem, minted out of the transparent gold unique to that city. Did I mention rates before? These aren’t rates. These are gifts. This is grace.
So Jesus is everything. Jesus is everything from A to Z, or, as they said in Greek, He is the Alpha and Omega. Jesus is Lord of everything, everything filed under every letter, all the way down. There is not one place in all of creation without a name, and every one of those names begins with a letter, a letter over which Jesus lays His authoritative and blood-purchased claim. Mike had a particular appreciation for the Lordship of Jesus over the B’s—barbecued beef, basketball, and blues licks. We love it—because we love Jesus, and He loved Mike, and we loved Mike. But without Jesus, it all flies away and we can make no sense of it. Without Jesus, forget about all of it.
So as we remember the godly heritage of Mike Rench, we celebrate a particular life, an individual life. But this entails that we must celebrate life generally, which we gladly do also. As we celebrate life—because Jesus is the resurrection and the life—we are brought down to a concrete level, and find that we rejoice in particular things. We praise God at a particular funeral.
Because of all this, we celebrate the life Mike had, but more than this, we celebrate and mark the life he now has, and will have forever. Your life, Paul reminds us, is now hid with Christ in God. We have our physical lives here, gifts from God, which we thank Him for. And if we have been quickened by the Holy Spirit of God, we have eternal life as a present possession, planted deep within us, and growing outward and upward. Because of this life within us, we are yearning to finally break the surface of Heaven’s dirt so we can enter into the fullness of life.
Earlier today, we said the words of committal at the gravesite, and Mike’s body was committed to the ground. We committed him to the ground, knowing that he will burst from that same grave at the day of resurrection in much the same way that a few days ago he burst from earth into Heaven, and again, all because of Jesus.
We are Christians, and we honor our brother in this way because we believe in life. That’s because we believe in Jesus. We really do.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.