Excerpt from funeral message based on Psalm 23, part 4.
And today she sits at the table he has prepared for her. What a joy and consolation.
The table David had in mind may have been the high flatlands of summer pasture, which the shepherd would scout out, pulling up poisonous weeds, looking for signs of wolves and bear. Sheep never think about all the preparation it takes to be led safely to pasture and back again, and David was probably not thinking about life after death.
But we are. When we read this, we also think of the table as our Lord’s table, and the communion of saints around the body and blood of Christ. This is a modest meal that points to the grand banquet of eternity, a feast he has indeed prepared. We come to the Lord’s table in remembrance of him, but also in anticipation of Him.
Mom is seated at His table now, and we are all glad. Much of our joy is in our assurance that she is beyond pain, in perfect peace, reunited with her husband and her mother.
But I can tell you this, none of that means very much to her right now. Her true joy is to be in the presence of Christ himself. Her face shines with the radiance of his glory, more than Moses’ did when he saw a sliver of God’s back on Sinai. She can see all of it, and that’s all she wants to talk about, or will ever want to talk about. There is no gossip in heaven. There is no recrimination. There is only the glory of God, and the grace of God, and the peace of God.
We can scarcely comprehend this, and we project on heaven the limitations of our own flawed imagination. But Scripture assures us that at this moment she is in fact just like Jesus, because she can finally and truly see him as he is.
We know so very little about this, but one eyewitness, Paul, who was caught up into heaven, said later that he was determined to know nothing among us, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. In a single moment last Saturday mom understood more about the Shepherd and His Sacrifice than she accumulated in a life time of ministry or suffering.
Part of what she understood perfectly is that she does not sit at the table with the righteous because she was righteous, but because Christ is righteous and bore our sins in his body on the cross. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. She knew that. Now she understands it.
This fact is so amazing and humbling she may not even think about dad for a hundred years. She may not think about her pets ever.
In a single moment last Saturday mom understood how much greater her sin was than she imagined. Confronted with the glory of God, she cried, like Isaiah did, “Woe is me, for I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
And in that same instance she also understood complete forgiveness and overwhelming grace, grace that is greater than all our sins. She stood up on strong legs once again and then prostrated herself before the throne of God. It was a moment of intense, blinding, ecstatic glory.
If she ever slighted you, in that moment her love for you became as pure as Christ’s. If you ever slighted her, her forgiveness became as deep as her Lord’s. If she ever blessed you in any way, it was a mere shadow of the grace of God she now enjoys. Like Paul, she wants you to know nothing except Christ crucified and glorified.
And yet we are still here, clinging to our sin and anger and fear while a flood of grace is upon is.
This is the great depth of the still waters. We pause here and are awed. We confess our sin and cry Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts.
In this truth alone the oil of gladness runs down our cheeks and our cup runs over. If we get this, goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
We will say with David, and with Mom:
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.