************ Funeral Sermon on Isaiah 53:1 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 21, 2020
"Who Has Believed Our Message?"
Bernice Visser Funeral
I want to start with what I call Quotable Quotes from Bernice Visser.
First, an absolutely wonderful quote after Henry died. People would express condolences on the loss of her husband. "I didn't lose him. I know exactly where he is." Don't you just love it?
Second, quotes about her funeral. Hear Bernice's voice as I read them to you:
-"Dig a hole and put my body in the hole."
-"Choose the cheapest coffin available. The least expensive wooden box and have it painted blood red."
-"I was baptized in church. I was married in church. I'd like to be buried from the church."
-"Scripture: Isaiah 53. Theme of message: The LOVE of God and His Amazing Grace - a free gift."
Bernice loved the words of Isaiah 53. And, as I explain them to you, I hope you will too.
Let's leave Isaiah for a moment and fast forward some 710 years. Philip was directed by an angel to meet a man riding in a chariot and reading from Isaiah 53. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus (cf Acts 8). No Old Testament Scripture is so often and so convincingly applied to Jesus Christ by the New Testament as this one. It contains the sum and substance of the gospel. In it we find Christ's birth, death, resurrection, and glory. It has been called "The Fifth Gospel" to be added to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Isaiah 53 is good news about Jesus. Good news for Bernice. Good news for me. Good news for you. Good news for sinners.
Did you catch that? Good news for sinners. And, we are those sinners. Isaiah speaks of our transgressions, our iniquities. Like sheep we have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.
What do sinners deserve? What is owed them? Punishment. Judgment. Condemnation. Including the everlasting fires of hell. That's what Bernice deserves. That's what I deserve. That's what you deserve.
But now look at Christ. He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. He was punished and wounded in our place. Let's go back to Bernice's "blood red" coffin. "Blood red," she wrote, "to signify Jesus' blood shed for the forgiveness of all our sins." That's what Isaiah 53 is all about. The suffering and dying of Jesus so we are forgiven and live with Him in heaven. Jesus, the innocent Servant, died in the place of the guilty. Jesus took the place of guilty sinners and paid the price for their sins.
The emphasis in verses 4-6 is on the plural pronouns: our griefs and sorrows, our iniquities, our transgressions. We have gone astray, we have turned to our own way. He did not die because of anything He had done but because of what we had done.
Do you know what we see here? As Bernice put it, what we see is "The LOVE of God and His Amazing Grace - a free gift." And, what love it is. We sinned but He is punished. We transgressed but He was pierced. We have iniquities and He is crushed. We have gone astray and the Lord lays guilt on Him. Love. Love takes our place. Love took Bernice's place.
Now, to the question of our text: "Who has believed our message?"
Let me tell you who has not believed. Israel. The Israelites. The Kingdom of Judah. Why? Because they thought they had no need for a savior. They believed they had no need for a sacrifice for sin. Nobody in a system of works needs a savior. When you save yourself by your works you don't need a savior. You don't need someone being punished for your sins and your guilt.
A good question to ask any Jew you meet: Do you need a savior? Because that's what Christianity offers. Because that's what Isaiah 53 teaches. Because that's what Bernice loved about our Bible reading.
Who has believed our message? Let me tell you who believed. Bernice. She believed and accepted and loved the message of Isaiah 53. The message of the Savior. The message of His substitutionary sacrifice. The message of Him suffering and dying for her a sinner.
Who has believed our message? Can you say, "I do. I believe"? Let me tell you, if you don't believe then you get what all sinners deserve: judgment, punishment, condemnation, hell. But if you do believe, like Bernice, then the promise of Isaiah 53 is forgiveness, life everlasting, and fellowship with God.
"Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" My hope, my prayer, is that the answer includes you.
With this in mind, let us turn to the committal ...
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