I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
There is only one way into eternal life. That way is through Jesus Christ, the Savior of both Jew and Gentile. He takes on flesh willingly to suffer the punishment you deserve because of sin. He is risen from the dead to trample down death and bring life and immortality to light. Because of Jesus we are able to laugh to scorn the gloomy grave, as the hymn puts it.
Frances placed all her hope for eternal life upon Jesus Christ. Though her body was ravaged with cancer, though her knees were bad, though her body was falling apart, she remained confident that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose from the dead for her salvation. She rests in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection on Judgment Day. She rests in confidence that her body will be changed to a perfect body in the resurrection.
She rests because Jesus first rested for her. Jesus’ rest in the tomb that Saturday after His death and before His resurrection is her Sabbath rest. She prepared for this Sabbath rest every Sunday when she came to the Lord’s house to hear the Word of Christ proclaimed to her. This Word of life entered her ears and created faith in Jesus Christ as the way to eternal life. This Word of life drew her to the font, where her sin was washed away. Her baptism united her with the innocent life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Everything that He did was for her. The day of her baptism was the day that the Way of Christ came upon her, drawing her into everlasting life as a child of God.
The Word of life was placed upon her tongue each Sunday when she received Christ’s true Body and true Blood in the Lord’s Supper. It was a joy for me to preach the Gospel and give her the Supper each week, even in those last days of her life when she was in the nursing home. Her Christian piety showed in Whom she trusted. Lutherans are welcome to make the sign of the cross to remember their Baptism. Frances did so quite often, one of the few in our congregation that did. Perhaps we Lutherans don’t want to be confused with Roman Catholics. Perhaps there are other reasons. That didn’t make any difference to Frances. Every time she traced the holy cross over her body, it was a reminder of her baptism. It was a reminder of the Savior that bled and died for her sin and was raised for her justification.
When her last hour came, she was prepared. Having received the Lord’s Supper, having heard her sins forgiven in Holy Absolution, and having heard the many pastors that served her through the years convict her of sin and proclaim Christ’s victory over sin and death; she was ready to fall asleep in Jesus’ wounds. What a wonderful way to die!
Her death serves as a good lesson to us all. When death meets us face-to-face, there is no other way out than the Jesus way. All of us, sometime soon, will be in this position: lying in a casket, waiting for our body to be laid in the grave. You can look at it as if everything is over and get on with your life. Or you can look at it as a life lived well in Jesus Christ. We will see her again, when she will be raised with all the dead in Christ. There will be no more cancer. There will be no more crippled legs. There will only be a perfect body, just as it was meant to be before the fall into sin. Thus Frances will live with her heavenly Father for all eternity.
This is the sure and certain hope into which she was baptized. This is the sure and certain hope for all those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord. Perhaps this is her lasting legacy for us all: living in hope amid many earthly trials. Her confidence in Christ could not be shaken. She knew the Way, the Truth, and the Life was Jesus, for Jesus is the only Way into eternity.
The peace of the crucified and risen Lord be with you all.