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Funeral for Robert Mattijetz

John 10:7-16

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Saturday after the 13th Sunday after Trinity
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Sat, Sep 14, 2019 

Our brother Rob did not try to make himself the door.  Many people in this world take that approach.  They want to blaze their own trail.  They want to decide what is right and wrong for themselves.  They want to make up their own rules for how to get to heaven.

But Rob recognized that there is one Door.  That Door is Christ Jesus.  Anyone who wants to come to the Father and have eternal life must enter through the Door.  That is the only way.

Rob could have tried to climb over the wall or dig a hole underneath, so to speak.  Rob could have tried to be his own savior, or his own shepherd, as many people are tempted to do.  Rob might have thought, ďWhy humble myself as a sheep when I can be my own shepherd?Ē But no, Rob saw that Christ our Lord is the only true Shepherd.  Only in Him is life.

Rob knew the voice of his Shepherd.  He listened attentively to that voice.  From time to time, strange voices tried to lure Rob away.  But he knew that only one voice was the genuine Shepherd that gives life.

This Shepherd took care of Rob most wonderfully.  To accomplish this, the good Shepherd first of all came into this life in human flesh in order to lay down His life for all sheep.  No one could take His life away from the Shepherd because He is the Son of God.  That is what makes His life so valuable, and why His life is able to give life to all His sheep.

So Rob has life, even now.  Although his body rests, his spirit is at peace in the presence of the good Shepherd. 

Even in his lifetime, his Shepherd was never far from Rob.  Christ was with Rob always.  He ruled over Rob, not as a harsh master, but as a gentle guide.  He led Rob into pastures of grace and forgiveness in the Word.  He led Rob to the still waters of holy Baptism, and fed him the precious food of the Sacrament of the Altar.  Even as enemies surrounded Rob in this life, his Shepherd was feeding him the Feast of immortality and victory.

Robís Shepherd was careful to guard and keep Rob against those enemies.  Although they wanted to lead Rob away from his Shepherd, the Spirit of Christ strengthened and preserved him in the one true faith to life everlasting.  By the same Spirit, Rob grew in faith and in good works, constantly helping those around him.  He served in his vocations as husband and father.  The Spirit worked great and abundant fruit in Rob within his congregation and the community.

When Rob was struck with illness, then the Spirit of the good Shepherd gave Rob consolation and patience.  He did not run away from his Shepherd in his hour of crisis.  Instead, he held all the stronger to the One who had conquered death for him.  So Rob was victorious even in his suffering.  His trials could not overcome him.

For Rob was not kept captive by anxiety and fear.  Surely those emotions troubled him from time to time, as with any man.  But they could not imprison and dominate Rob.  Godís Law could not condemn him to divine judgment, because Christ the Shepherd was Robís righteousness.  Godís grace ruled Robís heart and mind and soul.  In these, Rob was free from the threats of sin, death, hell, and the devil. 

Those ferocious wolves wanted to seize Rob with their sharp teeth.  But they failed because Robís dear Shepherd watched over him.  No wolf can approach where the almighty Shepherd protects.  No one can overcome Him, and therefore no one could overcome Rob.

The teeth of the wolves could only seize a sheep if the Law could still accuse.  Although it was true that in this life Rob was not perfect, that did not matter because the life of the Shepherd was paid to satisfy the Law for Rob.  Although Rob was sometimes weak and failed to live as well as he should, that did not matter either.  The good Shepherd was Robís perfection.

Robís future was always absolutely certain because his Shepherd was absolutely good.  He knew Rob from before the creation of the world, and He determined that He would save Rob and give him eternal life.  Before he was born, Robís destiny was assured by the Shepherd who has no beginning or end.

In all these ways, the good Shepherd was nurturing Rob as His sheep.  He gave him life that overflowed, life in abundance.  The good Shepherd gave Rob such powerful life that it cannot be overcome by the grave.  For a day is coming when the Shepherd will complete His work with Rob and raise his body to new life.  Like his Shepherd, Rob will have a body that cannot die or grow sick.  All tears will be wiped away forever by the good Shepherd, who will lead him in green pastures of everlasting happiness and blessedness.

All this because the Shepherd was willing to become a sheep.  He became an innocent little Lamb sent in the midst of wolves.  He let the wolves attack Him on Calvary.  But in the end, He broke their teeth and wounded them so deeply that they will never recover.  Death is mortally wounded.  The devilís head is crushed.  The sin of the whole world is atoned for most thoroughly by the Blood of the Lamb of God.  No sin remains in Godís sight for His sheep.  The Lamb suffered so that Rob and all others who believe in Him will not have to suffer so much.

Indeed, for Rob all suffering is ended now.  The only thing still to come for Rob is the restoration of his body to immortal perfection at the Last Day.  And that is so inevitable that nothing can stop it.

All praise be to this good Shepherd who has accomplished all things for His dear servant Rob.  Amen.

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