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Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Scripture: John 6:35-40
Beulah Zomer Prayer Service
Brothers and sisters in Christ, Beulah loved people. That’s evident from the stories and memories that have been shared here, and it was mentioned when we were at the nursing home shortly after she had passed away. She loved her family, her children and grandchildren. When we use that term “unconditional love,” she is one of the best human examples of that. She treasured her loved ones.
And Beulah greatly enjoyed others, too. People who came and visited her, as well as those she met at different times throughout her life. That’s a great thing, but it could also make my task of visiting at the nursing home just a little difficult. Her room has been on the hallway where most of our parishioners are, and so if I knew I would not have a chance for a good visit, I’d speed walk past her door so that she might not see me if she was around. If she was looking that way, which quite often she was with the door open, she probably still caught me. But all she would tell me the next time I visited was how much she enjoyed visiting and to come again any time.
That image of an open door with someone inside who is eager to have others come and see them, to come and get to know them, and stay with them is really a fitting picture for this passage. The one who desires for people to come, of course, is Jesus—God in the flesh, who lived and died and rose again. Now certainly Jesus is active in pursuing his flock, not losing any of his sheep, as we think of him being the Good Shepherd. But he also invites us and all who hear his message to come to him and stick around. He promises to not drive us away.
For many people, even some of us here maybe, while that seems so simple, we find it incredibly difficult to follow. Just as I have found myself at times too busy or in too much of a hurry to not stop by and visit, it is easy to fall into that trap when it comes to our faith. We know the door is open, we have heard about Jesus—and if you are here tonight and knew Beulah, you have more than likely heard about Jesus at least once. And yet do we find ourselves saying, “Hold on, I’ll get to you. Next time around, I promise to spend some time seeing you and what you are really about.” As long as we are on this earth and in these bodies, this door, so to say, will remain open, and Jesus will be watching, inviting, waiting to see if we will come to him. There’s no three strikes, and you’re out—you lose your chance and it shuts.
No, Jesus remains waiting for us. Waiting for us to believe in him, to see that abiding with him is more important than anything in this life. To live and walk in our time in this world is something we are able to do with him, if we believe. For a time, we may search for other doors to be open—other things to worship or to satisfy, but we must realize that what we will find is that there are no other places, no other things that can do for us what Jesus does. We heard that in those opening verses. I am the bread of life—come to me and never hunger, believe in me and never thirst. Greater even than Beulah’s desire for people to visit her, is Jesus Christ’s desire for his people to come and believe and remain with him.
If we have done that, if we will do that, and we speak with confidence that Beulah did, then we can also hold the promise of verse 40. “[We] shall have eternal life, and [Jesus] will raise [us] up at the last day.” On Sunday I preached on heaven and hell, and that we must make no mistake that for every person who has ever lived there is a destiny after this life. The grave does not have the final victory. Even though Beulah’s body ceased functioning early Monday afternoon—that was and is not the end of her existence. All of us will be raised and judged when Christ returns.
But only those who know the Lord, who have lived with him and passed away knowing him as Lord and Savior, believing in the forgiveness that he offers, will be raised for eternal life with him. There is nothing greater, friends! Nothing in this life or in this world that can compare with that eternal life! All of the troubles, all of the sufferings, the weaknesses of the body, the addictions that may plague our minds, it will all be fixed and restored by God, and we will stay with him forever.
We know this to be true, we know this to be better, because of the love of Jesus that he has proclaimed and that he has shown—by dying for us. The love that Beulah shared in this life was full and urgent, because it was modeled on his love. As we live on, we can continue to celebrate Beulah’s legacy—her love and faith, and who we treasured her to be, but we also do celebrate because she has gone to be with her Lord, forever. Amen.