Listen to Original Comments
Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace… (Hebrews 13:7-9)
The following is a slightly excerpted (with permission) account of President Obenberger’s address following our late President Moldstad’s Christian funeral. May it encourage us to consider the outcome of sainted John’s way of life and its outcome for our own
Dear Joslyn, children, grandchildren, father, brother, sister, and all who mourn John’s soul passing on to the mansions above prepared for him and all of us by our Jesus:
Remember committing John 11:35 to memory, the shortest passage in the Bible: “Jesus wept.”? Jesus wept outside Lazarus’ tomb, surrounded by His people weeping. Jesus did love Lazarus to be sure, but Jesus loved all those who were mourning as well. Jesus loves you – this I know.
Joslyn, very likely as happens with any sudden death, the “if onlys” abound. Jesus wept, but after Martha and Mary had approached Him with their “if onlys” and in that sense questioning Jesus’ will. He did not rebuke them, but resolved their “if onlys” with the words: “I am the resurrection and the life.”
Jesus’ weeping gives you permission to weep, as most all of us have been doing since hearing the shockingly sad news last week. But what else we know is this: our weeping is often tainted with our sin: fear, doubt, anger, will-questioning, even self-pity. None of that was attached to Jesus’ tears. The blood of Jesus cleanses you from all such sins in your weeping, and what is more, Jesus’ weeping was done with righteous tears. His holy tears are now credited to you through faith in Him. Your weeping is acceptably heard and seen by Your Lord. Your tears are the sanctified tears of His cherished Bride.
This understanding of our blessed position before God by His grace in Christ was well understood and trusted by President Moldstad, taught and preached by him faithfully and consistently. For this especially, but also for his humble demeanor exhibited in his firm confession of Jesus’ teachings in the face of false teaching and by his self-deprecating sense of humor, endeared him to us throughout the entire ELS. We came to expect his faithful leadership in good and evil days, but also always at the ready in anticipation and in response to his next pun, which received its warranted groan.
I recall about two years ago I heard the story associated with an award from his college days at Northwestern, which I always thought was something foisted upon him unwillingly. But he told the story of how he competed for this “honor” by even dressing up as a bird and strutting about onstage. I laughed so hard as he told the story that tears were rolling down my cheeks. While our tears will be wiped away in heaven, tears of sorrow, I hope we still have times when tears of laughter will flow freely.
The devil no doubt thought (some) Fridays ago that another big confessional voice was silenced in our little synod, but by God’s grace, as long as the little Norwegian Synod continues, we remain committed to that same bold confession of the Resurrection Gospel, which John eagerly and faithfully declared.
We will all miss John’s presence among us, but we await the day when Jesus will return and unite us in the resurrection taking us to that place where all tears will be wiped from our eyes forevermore. We may be afflicted but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, struck down but not destroyed. So while death is at work among us, there is also life in us for Jesus’ sake.
On behalf of your brothers and sisters in Christ of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, we express our deep and painful grief with you and want you to know we also share in your sure confidence: your husband, your father, your grandfather, your son, your brother will rise again for Jesus’ sake!
Because Jesus lives, you too shall live. Amen
President Glenn Obenberger