On behalf of the family of Jesus, I would like to thank you for your expressions of love during this difficult time in their life. Mary and her children would like to thank you for your presence here today as they lay to rest one loving and dearly loved.
JESUS OF NAZARETH
December 25, 5 B.C.—April 7, A.D. 29
Jesus Christ, age 33, of Nazareth, who resided in Capernaum for the past three years,died at 3:00 p.m. Friday April 7, A.D. 29, on Mount Calvary, also known as Golgotha, the place of the skull, outside the city gates of Jerusalem. Betrayed by Judas, thought by most to have been a friend, Jesus was crucified by the Romans on the order of Provincial Governor Pontius Pilate. The causes of death were crucifixion, extreme exhaustion, severe torture, loss of blood, and a broken heart.
Jesus Christ, a descendent of Abraham, was a member of the house of David and the tribe of Judah. Jesus was born on December 25, 5 B.C. in a stable in the city of Bethlehem, Judea. He was the adopted Son of the late Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, and Mary, his devoted natural mother. He is survived by his mother, Mary of Nazareth, four step-brothers: James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas all of Nazareth; and several step-sisters also from Nazareth; two aunts: Salome and Mary, the wife of Clopes. He is also survived by his very close friends: Peter, James, and John and a number of other faithful Apostles: Andrew; Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; and several very special women who supported his ministry—Mary from Magdala, Joanna, wife of Cuza, and Susanna.
Jesus was self-educated and spent most of his adult life working as a rabbi. Up until the time of His death, Jesus spent His days communing with His heavenly Father; teaching the Scriptures, and ministering to the masses. Jesus was most noted for sharing the good news of the gospel; healing the sick, the blind, the deaf, and the lame; raising the dead; casting out demons; comforting the lonely; feeding the hungry; and helping the poor.
Jesus’ body will be buried in a tomb in a nearby garden which was donated by Joseph of Arimathea, a loyal friend of the family. Pall bearers will be Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both members of the Sanhedrin who condemned Jesus to death, an action in which they did not participate. By order of Pontius Pilate, a boulder will be rolled in front of the tomb, a Roman seal affixed, and a Roman guard stationed at the tomb.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that everyone follow Jesus’ teachings and try to live as he did. Donations may be sent to anyone in need.
Today, we have met together to honor the memory and the life of Jesus of Nazareth. “And what a life it was!” Today, we are not burying a penniless preacher of the gospel. We are burying the greatest man in the history of the universe! Jesus was not an ordinary man—He was the God-man. In this funeral message today, I want to share with you how Jesus’ life has touched and will touch the world in ways that no other person has or will touch the world.
Newsweek magazine ran a cover story entitled, “2,000 Years of Jesus: Holy Wars to Helping Hands—How Christianity Shaped the Modern World.” The article said in part:
By any secular standard, Jesus is also the dominant figure of Western culture. Like the millennium itself, much of what we now think of as Western ideas, inventions, and values finds its source or inspiration in the religion that worships God in his [Jesus’] name. Art and science, the self and society, politics and economics, marriage and the family, right and wrong, body and soul—all have been touched and often radically transformed by the Christian influence.
Others have had this to say about Jesus:
- Napoleon Bonaparte: “I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire on love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him.”
- H. G. Wells: “I am a historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.”
- Philip Schaff (historian): “No great life ever passed so swiftly, so quietly, so humbly, so far removed from the noise and commotion of the world; and no great life after its close excited such universal and lasting interest.”
- Kenneth Scott LaTourette (historian): “As the centuries pass, the evidence is accumulating that, measured by its effect on history, Jesus is the most influential life ever lived on this planet.”
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Baptist pastor, author, and theologian): “Christ is the great central fact of the world’s history. To him everything looks forward or backward. All the lines of history converge upon him. All the great purposes of God culminate in him. The greatest and most momentous fact which the history of the world records is the fact of his birth.”
- The Apostle Paul:
Colossians 1:15-20: “He [Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
The life of Jesus has affected all strata of society. The life of Jesus has affected all nations. The life of Jesus has affected the lives of more people and to a greater extent than any other man in history! Let me share several things about Jesus that you may not know:
AND WHAT A LIFE IT WAS
- JESUS AND CHILDREN
In the society in which Jesus was born, children were not regarded as worth much. Although he did not have any children, Jesus loved and cared for children very much. Jesus taught that God is a loving Father and that we are his children who should treat our children as the Father treats us. In the Gospel of Matthew alone, we are told that Jesus:
- Healed children (Matthew 9:23-25).
- Imparted wisdom to children (Matthew 11:25).
- Taught children (Matthew 14:21).
- Told us that heaven was made for children (Matthew 18:3; 19:14).
- Warned that God would punish anyone who harmed a child (Matthew 18:5,6).
We are further told that Jesus:
- Laid his hands on children to pray over them (Matthew 19:13).
- Invited children to come to Himself (Matthew 19:14).
- Cast demons out of tormented children (Matthew 17:14-18).
- Was worshiped by children (Matthew 21:15).
Jesus’ life positively affected the lives of children.
- JESUS AND WOMEN
Although the society in which he was born did not value women, and in fact regarded them essentially as no more than personal property, Jesus often violated social taboos regarding women and in doing so honored them. Rodney Stark wrote:
In Roman as in Jewish society, women were regarded as inherently inferior to men. Husbands could divorce their wives but wives could not divorce their husbands. In rabbinic circles, only males were allowed to study the Torah. Jesus challenged these arrangements. Although he called only men to be apostles, Jesus readily accepted women into his circle of friends and disciples . . . Christianity’s appeal for women was a major reason that it grew so rapidly in competition with other religions of the Roman Empire. Then, as now, most Christians were women. The new religion offered women not only greater status and influence within the church but also more protection as wives and mothers.
The Bible teaches that God made us male and female, and that although men and women are different, they’re absolutely equal because they both bear the image of God (Genesis 1:26,27). Jesus befriended the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42), someone who was despised by the Jewish religious leaders because she was a woman, a Samaritan woman, and an immoral woman. In speaking with this Samaritan woman, Jesus revealed for the very first time that he was the Messiah (John 4:25,26).
Notice how Jesus ministered to women:
- Jesus often healed women and cast demons out of them (Matthew 9:20-22; Luke 8:40-56; 13:10-17).
- He used women as examples of exemplary faith in His teaching (Matthew 25:1-10; Luke 4:26; 18:1-5; 21:1-4).
- In what was a very controversial act, Jesus taught women theology (Luke 10:38-42; 23:27-31; John 20:10-18).
- He personally allowed himself to be anointed with expensive perfume by a sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50).
- Two of Jesus’ closest friends were women whom he loved like sisters (Luke 10:38,39).
- The funding of Jesus’ ministry was done by rich widows (Luke 8:1-3).
- It was to women that Jesus first revealed himself after his resurrection (Matthew 28:1-10).
Jesus elevated women to a new social and spiritual status.
- JESUS AND SLAVES
In the New Testament era, approximately half the people living in the Roman Empire wereslaves. Jesus called himself a servant or slave, and by doing so, He identified himself with all those who were enslaved (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45). In harmony with Jesus’ teachings, Paul listed slave trading as among the most heinous of sins (I Corinthians 7:21-23; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:4; I Timothy 1:10) and even pleaded for the merciful treatment of the Christian slave named Onesimus (Philemon 1:10-19). In the British Empire, it was a Christian British statesman named William Wilberforce who labored day and night to end the slave trade. In the United States, the fight against slavery was led in large part by Christians and by a Christian President—Abraham Lincoln.
Jesus’ life sought to free the downtrodden and oppressed.
JESUS AND SLAVES
- JESUS AND EDUCATION
As a teacher, Jesus the Rabbi made an unparalleled difference in education. As we have already noted, Jesus was the first to teach women as well as the poor who had no access to a secular or religious education.
As Christianity has spread across the generations and across the world, so has languagetranslation, publishing, education, and literacy. The printing press was invented by a Christian man named Johannes Guttenberg (1398—1468) and the very first book printedwas the Bible.
Many of the world’s written languages were developed by missionaries seeking to translate the Bible into the native language of a people group. Even today, this work of translation continues as the Bible, in part or the whole, has now been translated into approximately 3,000 languages.
The first universities in Europe were started by men professing the Christian faith. From 1620, when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, until 1837, virtually all American education was private and Christian. The first public schools in America, known as “common schools,” were founded by Christians, supported by government tax money, and the Bible was taught every day in these schools for 217 years. In the first two centuries of our existence, 123 colleges and universities in America were founded by Christians and most were started to train men for the ministry that they might be missionaries to the people who settled in this new world.
Jesus’ life affected education.
- JESUS AND MEDICINE
In the Roman Empire into which Jesus was born, hospitals were only for soldiers, gladiators, and slaves. The common laborer and the poor had no medical care available to them. Jesus radically altered this when he inaugurated his ministry of healing. Jesus’ ministry was so characterized by the healing of women, children, and the poor that he is often affectionately called “the great physician” (Luke 4:23; 5:31). The Gospel of Luke was written by a Christian medical doctor and Luke recorded many of the miraculous healings that Jesus performed.
In A.D. 325, at the Council of Nicaea, it was decreed that hospitals were to be established wherever there was a Christian church. This tradition continues in our day, as many hospitals have Christian origins such as Baptist, Presbyterian, and Catholic. Internationally, the Red Cross continues a worldwide medical ministry thanks to the founding of that organization by the Christian, Henri Durant.
Jesus forever affected the field of medicine and brought medical care to the masses.
- JESUS AND CHARITY
Jesus was poor and often spoke of his compassion for the plight of the poor (Matthew 11:5; 19:21; Luke 4:18; 6:20). Jesus demonstrated His love for the poor in practical ways such as providing food for the hungry (Matthew 14:14-21; 15:32-38) and medical care for the sick.
Arthur C. Brooks has done extensive research concerning giving to charitable causes in America and has discovered that conservative Christians donate more money (to all charitable causes and regardless of their personal income) than their liberal and secular counterparts. Not only do Christians give more money to charitable causes, but they are more generous in donating things other than money such as volunteer hours given to charities and donating blood.
Jesus’ example of treating others mercifully continues to challenge the hearts of millions today to treat others as they would want someone to treat them (Matthew 7:12).
- JESUS AND LAW
Every advanced culture in the world has a legal system where laws are written, interpreted, and enforced. Almost without exception, these laws are based upon the legal principles of the Ten Commandments and the interpretation of those Commandments by Jesus and the New Testament writers.
Freedom, justice and ALL human rights flow from the teachings of the Son of God.
- JESUS AND ECONOMICS
The Free Enterprise System of economics is based upon the teachings of Jesus who recognized all men as equal, who deserved equal opportunities, who gave men the ability to createand be creative with the opportunity to build a “better mouse trap.” The Bible teaches the right of private ownership and historically, the economies of Christian nations have surpassed those of non-Christian nations. The nations where there is no private ownership, where the government owns the property, are atheistic nations or nations who predominantly practice non-Christian religions.
The practical teachings of Jesus have raised the standard of living for millions of people through the ages.
- JESUS AND ART
The Bible teaches that God is both Creator and creative and that God placed within manthe ability to also create and be creative. In architecture, there are cathedrals around the world that are known for their inspiring architecture.
In the world of music, the works of Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi, along with Wesley, Crosby, and Luther, who wrote many great hymns of the faith, all flowed out of the fountain of inspiration that came for the life and teachings of Jesus.
In the world of art, Christians such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci remain the standard by which all other artists are measured. And in the world of literature, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne, Bunyan, Milton, Dickens, Tolstoy, Eliot, Lewis, Tolkien, and Solzhenitsyn all wrote out of their Christian faith.
Art is a reflection of the beauty that we see in the heart of Jesus.
- JESUS AND SALVATION
The Word of God clearly and repeatedly states that Jesus is the only Savior of the world! (Matthew 11:27; John 3:5-18,36; 5:40; 6:37,40; 10:7,9; 11:25; 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 3:12; I Timothy 2:5,6; Hebrews 2:10; 10:10,12,14,19,20; I John 5:11,12) Here are some of the many aspects of Christ’s death that unique to Christianity:
- Christ’s death was a substitution for sin.
Christ died in my place for my sins instead of me dying for my sins (Isaiah 53:6; Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; Luke 22:37; John 1:16; 10:11; Romans 5:6-8; 12:17; II Corinthians 5:21; I Thessalonians 5:15; I Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 12:16; I Peter 3:9,18).
- Christ’s death provided redemption from sin.
Jesus Christ paid the price which sin demanded—death so that we could be redeemed from our sin (II Peter 2:1; Revelation 5:9).
- Christ’s death reconciled sinners to God.
Because of his sin, man is alienated from a holy God. The death of Christ and a personal faith in His death, changes a man’s state from alienation to a member of God’s family (II Corinthians 5:18-21; Romans 5:1-11; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20).
- Christ’s death was for all mankind.
The Scriptures teach that Christ died on the cross for the sins of each and every man who would ever draw a breath on this planet (John 1:29; 3:17; II Corinthians 5:19; I Timothy 4:10; II Peter 2:1; I John 2:2).
- Christ’s death is the basis for justification.
The word justified refers to a legal declaration of righteousness (Romans 5:9,16; 8:33,34). Every man stands in God’s holy courtroom and the evidence against him is massive and conclusive. And in spite of the evidence against us, God pronounces us legally righteous. How can Jesus do that? God does that by changing sinners into righteous people. This is accomplished by imputing (crediting) Christ’s perfect righteousness to repentant sinners (II Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:21-26; 5:19).
- Christ’s death brings eternal forgiveness.
Christ died that men might be eternally forgiven of their sin (Psalm 103:10-12; Nehemiah 9:17; Micah 7:19; Isaiah 38:17; 43:25; Jeremiah 31:34; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:13,14; Hebrews 8:12).
As you can see, the death of Christ on the cross took care of man’s every need—forgiveness, sin, righteousness, reconciliation, hope, life, assurance, adoption, and eternity. God thought of it all! Everything we need is in him!
And although there are many cults and “isms” in the world masquerading as “truth,”they pale in comparison to Jesus Christ. For example:
- The founders of the various cults and “isms” of the world never claimed to be God.
Mohammed did not claim to be God. Buddha did not claim to be God. Krishna or Kali did not claim to be God. Confucius did not claim to be God. Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, and Charles Taze Russell did not claim to be God. These men and women did not claim to be God because they were in fact not God!
- The founders of the various cults and “isms” of the world never claimed to be the Savior of the world.
Mohammed did not claim to be the Savior of the world. Buddha did not claim to be the Savior of the world. Krishna or Kali did not claim to be the Savior of the world. Confucius did not claim to be the Savior of the world. Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, and Charles Taze Russell did not claim to be the Savior of the world. These men and women did not claim to be the Savior of the world because they were in fact not the Savior of the world!
- The founders of the various cults and “isms” of the world never died a sacrificial death on behalf of their followers.
Mohammed did not die a sacrificial death on behalf of Moslems. Buddha did not die a sacrificial death on behalf of Buddhists. Krishna or Kali did not die a sacrificial death on behalf of Hindus. Confucius did not die a sacrificial death on behalf of Confucianists. Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, and Charles Taze Russell did not die a sacrificial death on behalf of Mormons, Christian Scientists, or Jehovah Witnesses. These men and women did not claim to die a sacrificial death on behalf of their followers because they in fact did not die for their followers!
- The founders of the various cults and “isms” of the world never took away a single sin committed by their followers.
Mohammed did not take away a single sin of Moslems. Buddha did not take away a single sin of Buddhists. Krishna or Kali did not take away a single sin of Hindus. Confucius did not take away a single sin of Confucianists. Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, and Charles Taze Russell did not take away a single sin of Mormons, Christian Scientists, or Jehovah Witnesses. These men and women did not claim to take away even a single sin of their followers because in fact did could not! Their advice to their followers was, “Do your best and ‘Good luck!’”
- The founders of the various cults and “isms” of the world are not living in the hearts of their followers.
Mohammed is not living in the hearts of Moslems. Buddha is not living in the hearts of Buddhists. Krishna is not living in the hearts of Hindus. Joseph Smith is not living in the hearts of Mormons. Charles Taze Russell is not living in the hearts of Jehovah Witnesses. Mary Baker Eddy is not living in the heart of Christian Scientists. But Jesus Christ is living in the heart of all true believers!!! (II Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13,14; Colossians 1:27)
- In fact, all “isms” of the world could function just as well if their founder had never lived.
You could have Islam without Mohammed, Buddhism without Buddha, and the founder of Hinduism could have been any sage or mystic. These religions are nothing more than a collection of witty or pithy sayings, proverbs, advice, or a creed to live by. Their founders performed no miracles and so the founder could have been any historian or editor that collected the wisdom of man and started a religion.
In summary, the religions of the world offer man nothing! No:
- Eternal bliss.
- Solution to the sin problem.
- Eternal life.
Do you see why Jesus is greater than any and all the founders of the cults and “isms”of the world?
It has been two millennia since his birth, and yet there are more Christians alive today than all the Christians who have ever lived combined! Every single day, 225,000 people around the world trust Jesus Christ as their personal Savior—more than at any time in the history of the world!!! Jesus’ impact upon the world is greater at this very moment than at any time in history!
- JESUS AND CHANGED LIVES
Through the years, I have pastored people who were once alcoholics, drug addicts, homosexuals, or sexually immoral. They tried everything to be set free from their addictions but they searched in vain until they came to know the resurrected Christ as their personal Savior. Jesus Christ changed their lives forever!!!
JESUS AND CHANGED LIVES
- JESUS AND ME
There are not words in any human language to adequately describe the difference that Jesus has made in my personal life. He loves me, changed me forever, and I owe himeverything!!!
Jesus’ legacy is without equal, a man among boys, a professional among amateurs, the truth among liars, the “real deal” among pretenders, the “ . . . way and the truth and the life No one comes to the Father except through [Him]!” (John 14:6)
- Jesus never wrote a book …
But in the U.S. Library of Congress, there are catalogued 17,239 books about Jesus Christ—more than any other historical figure and roughly twice as many Shakespeare, the runner-up. A scholar from the University of Chicago has estimated that more has been written about Jesus in the last 20 years than in the previous twenty centuries combined.
- Jesus never ran for political office …
But more people have chosen him to be their leader than anyone else who has ever lived!
- Jesus was never formally educated …
But He has more students than anyone else ever has or ever will have!
- Jesus was not a licensed therapist …
But He has helped more people than all the counselors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists in the world combined!
- Jesus was not an artist …
But more artwork has been commissioned of him than of anyone else in the history of the world!
- Jesus never wrote a song …
But more songs have been sung about him and to him than any other human being who has ever lived on this planet!
- Jesus never wore a wrist watch …
But he looms so large over human history that we actually measure time by him. Our calendar is divided into the years before his birth (B.C.—before Christ) and the years since his birth (A.D.—anno Domini—“in the year of our Lord”).
You must make up their mind as to the identity of Jesus Christ and how you will respond to Him. In effect, we are actually only left with three possible responses:
Jesus was a lunatic,
Jesus was a liar, or
Jesus is Lord.
British theologian and author C.S. Lewis (1898—1963) wisely declared:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. Let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
So who is Jesus to you? Is he a lunatic? A liar? Or is He Lord? Choose wisely, my child, for you will have to live for eternity with the consequences of your choice!
There is absolutely no doubt as to where Jesus is at this very moment. We are 100% confident that he is in heaven—seated at the right hand of his heavenly Father (cf. Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; 5:31; 7:55,56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20-22; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; I Peter 3:22).
If we were holding your funeral service today—where would you be right now? That’s a question we all need to think about because one day someone will be holding your funeral service. The life of Jesus has affected for all time and to a greater extent than any other man in history!