What follows is a sermon I preached on March 11 at my grandma's funeral. I was so blessed to be asked to preach that day. There were 10 preachers in attendance that day, and any of them could have done a great job. Still, I'm grateful for the opportunity to honor my grandma and honor her Savior.
One of my fondest memories growing up was grandma's Bible. It was worn from use and had hand-written notes scribbled along the margins. That's really all you need to know about Frances Smith. She had a Bible, it was well-worn, and she scribbled in the margins.
That's why this service is more for us who are still here than it is for my grandma Frances Smith. Those who knew Frances know that she is in heaven this afternoon, and even those who do not believe in heaven know that Frances believed she would go there.
I want you to join me in the book of John and chapter 14 for a few minutes. Frances' heart was never troubled about God, and I think that's a huge takeaway for those of us left behind as she enjoys her time with the Father. If you're at the passage, follow along with me:
Jn 14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
Jn 14:2 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
Jn 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Jn 14:4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Jn 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jn 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
If we can believe this…if we can trust Christ for eternity, then it opens us up to so many wonderful thoughts. Has she found Allen yet? Has he found her? Or is he still arguing with someone about the creation timeline? If so, she's probably by his side smiling. Or has she already found a group of women up there to socialize with? Has she invited people over for ice cream yet? Has she met up with any of the greats in the Bible? Or have they found her first?
There are three things in particular from this passage to describe Frances' faith.
1. She believed in Christ like she believed in God.
Jesus encouraged his followers in John Chapter 14 by saying that they should have confidence in him. The King James Version says, “You believe in God, believe also in me.” Jesus wants us to place our trust in him; wants us to be comfortable and confident in him. Just as we believe in God we believe in him. A lot of people believe in God, or at least in a god. Frances would say that isn't enough. You believe in God, you must also believe in Jesus Christ.
Some people think that they have pulled it off if they have more good things that can outweigh the bad in their life. That's just not true. Because of our sin, and it doesn't matter how much sin, we are separated from God. You must believe in Christ.
Frances took Jesus at his words. She didn't need to embellish what Christ said; didn't need to defend him. She just believed.
2. She knew where Christ went.
Of course, we have the benefit of the entire Bible, which Thomas didn't have when he asked Christ where he was going. Jesus said he was going to prepare a place for us, and Frances knew that. Before he could prepare a place for us, he had to go to the Cross to die for us, and Frances knew that too. For around 2000 years Christ has been getting ready for Francis to arrive, and he's getting ready for you and me to arrive as well, if we believe in him for Salvation.
3. She knew how to get there.
There is only one way to get to heaven. There was always only one way. Frances knew that, believed it, and lived it. And I'm grateful for that fact because I believe it in part because she did. Her relationship with God was so important to her that it rubbed off on me.
At some point in my life, I had to realize that there really was only one way to heaven. I had seen a lot of the world, studied a lot about religion, but the fact was, it all comes back to Jesus Christ. He's the only thing that is different. He's the difference-maker in the world.
But what about you? Most of you know who Frances was. You know what she believed about God. You know what she believed about Jesus. What do you believe? If he was just a great teacher with good life lessons, then you've missed the point. If he was a religious leader, then you've missed the point. If he was the savior of the world, then you're ready to join Frances when your time on earth is done.
Jesus Christ said he was the way, the truth and the life. There was no way for Frances to get to God without Jesus, and she was a good woman. Most of us in this room can't hold a candle to her. If she needed Jesus, then so do we. I invite you today to find out what that means if you don't already know. What better day to give yourself to the Lord than on a day we celebrate a great woman going to be with him?
It helps to understand why you need the only way. You see, Jesus is our substitute because of our sin. The Bible tells us that All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. It then tells us that the wages of sin is death. The just punishment for our sin is death. And not one person in this room can say that they've never sinned; that they've never done anything wrong. I don't care what standard you use. Even if you use your own standard you can't maintain it perfectly. You'll disappoint yourself at some point. I guarantee you won't be able to uphold your own standard, much less God's. Every one of us has messed up. Because of that sin, we have earned eternal hell. But the Bible also tells us that God gave us a gift in Jesus, who died to take away our sins. God made a way for Frances to enter heaven, and it's the same way for you and me to enter heaven.
But maybe you don't care about what happens when you die. I guess that if you don't really believe in God then you might not believe in heaven or hell either. But I guarantee that, if you've seen Frances, you know she's not like the others. She lived with a sense of purpose that a lot of people don't have. And she lived content with her circumstances. I guarantee that she was able to live that way because of Christ. You will never be so fulfilled as you will be with Christ as your savior.
So for the afterlife, and for your present life, won't you join Frances n believing in Jesus? He was her only way to heaven, and he can be yours too. If you've decided to believe today, please allow me to celebrate with you after the service. It would mean the world to me.
That book, with its scribbles in the margins…it told Frances about Jesus Christ. It's all you really need to know about her, and the only thing she needed to know what that Jesus was the way, the truth and the life.