Justin Donald Zuber

A Memorial Address by the Rev. James P. Cooper

A few minutes ago we read about how the Lord once entered the house of a little girl who had just died. Her mother and father were weeping because they loved her very much. The Lord said to them, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” (Luke 8:52) Then, after He had sent away those people who did not believe in Him, He took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” (Luke 8:53)

To the astonishment of her father and mother, the girl came to life again. You can imagine how delighted they were, how overcome with joy that they were to see their daughter alive and well.

These events are recorded in the gospel of Luke especially for the parents of children who die, because the Lord wants us to know, to be absolutely certain, that He performs this same miracle for everyone who dies. The only difference is that the little girl in the gospel was brought back to life in this world. All others, He calls to Himself and awakens in heaven.

The Lord did not cause her death, any more than He causes the death of any person. Death comes through disease, and accident, and because this world does not follow the order of heaven. The world of nature is not perfect, nor are the people who inhabit it. But when death does come, when there is sickness and accident, the Lord acts in His great mercy to turn it somewhere, somehow, to good. Therefore, those who die in this world are raised up by the Lord from their sleep and live again in the spiritual world, having left their earthly body behind. This is what the Lord meant when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, [yet] shall he live.” (John 11:25)

The Lord never wants young people to become sick or accidentally die, but when they do, He takes them up immediately into heaven to be with the angels. There, they finish the process of becoming fully adult, and are taught the things they need to know so that they may eventually find their own place and home in heaven and become angels of the Lord.1

Young men and women are precious in the eyes of the Lord, and every one who dies before reaching full adulthood is certain to become an angel in heaven. This is because all young people are endowed with the heavenly quality of innocence while they are growing up. Once when the people were bringing young children to the Lord so that He could touch them, and the disciples tried to turn them away, the Lord was very angry. He said, “‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God’. …And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:14-16).

This is the very same thing that happens to young people who die. The Lord takes them up into heaven, and no one forbids or stops them. He takes them up in His arms, holds them in His hands, and blesses them with eternal life.

Justin is even now awakening into his new life. At first he will be with the most kind and protective angels who will see to it that his first experience of spiritual life will be peaceful and gentle. Gradually, as he becomes more familiar with his new surroundings, Justin will begin to explore the wonders of the spiritual world. He will join with other young men who will travel throughout the world of spirits with a teacher and guide to see the many wonders and to learn the many things that he will need to know to grow up to be a useful citizen of the Lord’s kingdom.

His physical limitations and pain have been left behind with the cares of this world. In his new spiritual body, he will enjoy perfect health, and the freedom to run and exercise, and be with other young men and women, people like himself who will become his true friends, who will enjoy his sense of humor, and who will no doubt be caught by the sharpness of his mind from time to time.

Justin loved learning and was a challenging student. No teacher could ever let down his or her guard while Justin was in the class, there could be no sloppy preparation because, in his very cheerful and open way, he’d catch the error and point it out. Some of his teachers were known to use this characteristic of his to set traps for him – which, not being a slave to conventional thought, he happily leapt into. Justin laughed just as much when the joke was on him as when the joke was his, because more than anything else he loved the challenge of thought itself and knowing the minds of others.

In the spiritual world, his new home, he will be assigned to teachers who have been particularly chosen for him by the Lord Himself, and who will be able to show him the way to find the answers to all his questions. And particularly, Justin will be able to learn about the Lord and His kingdom.

One of the ways that young people are taught in heaven is by means of plays which, through costume and setting, are able to communicate powerful ideas and emotions in a few words. There is no doubt whatever that Justin will be irresistibly drawn to these productions, and it’s easy to imagine him talking many different roles and wearing extravagant costumes to teach and entertain generation after generation of newcomers into the spiritual world.

Justin will not remain a youth forever. He will grow into a fine young man, and one day the Lord will lead him to meet a young woman whom he will see as the image of beauty itself, and each will know that they were born for each other. They will marry and live together in heaven forever.

While we may find some satisfaction in knowing that Justin will not be lonely, or unhappy, or afraid, still those of us who are left behind will grieve for him, because he is not here with us any more. We can no longer be with him, we can no longer enjoy his good company. We might ask ourselves, “Why did this happen?” We may even blame ourselves, or be angry with God. But Jesus said, “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14). How then did it happen that the Lord should allow him to die so young?

The Lord permits things to happen that He does not wish to happen, just as a loving parent sometimes allows their child to burn themselves on something hot so that they may learn what the concept “hot” means, and so prevent a much greater harm later. The parent does not will that the child feel pain, but grieving, permits it for the sake of a greater good. The Lord’s greatest love and purpose is to provide a heaven from the human race, and in His infinite wisdom, He provides for this in ways which sometimes we don’t understand. But we must be certain of this: that nothing is permitted by the Lord unless it can be turned to some good.

We may not be able to clearly see the Divine Mercy in a tragedy while we are still thinking about our loss. It is normal and proper for all of us to feel a terrible sense of loss. Yet even in these states of grief the Lord is working to bring good from evil. There can be a precious closeness shared between members of the family, a common turning to the Lord for strength. The minds of all of us may be softened and opened to perceive the reality and nearness of the spiritual world, and give us cause to reflect on the course of our own lives, and perhaps change them for the better. The death of a loved one is a time to reflect deeply on eternal values.

When we see the way this young man’s life has touched the lives of so many others, and how this tragedy has caused us all to think more about spiritual life and to have a deeper awareness of the dangers that are related to our freely made choices, we can begin to see the Lord’s hand in this, lifting all of us up.

And so let us not lose faith in the Lord’s mercy, for “The LORD is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9). Let us pray that the states of heaven may sustain and comfort us. And let us never forget the hope of eternal life which should live within us.

As we think of Justin in his new life, in his strong and healthy spiritual body, we can know with certainly that the Lord has indeed fulfilled His promise, given to us in the words of the Prophet Isaiah: But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. (ISA 40:31)

First Lesson: PSA 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. {2} He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. {3} He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. {4} Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. {5} You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. {6} Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

Second Lesson: Luke 8:40-42,49-56

So it was, when Jesus returned, that the multitude welcomed Him, for they were all waiting for Him. {41} And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue. And he fell down at Jesus’ feet and begged Him to come to his house, {42} for he had an only daughter about twelve years of age, and she was dying. But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him.

{49} While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.” {50} But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” {51} When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. {52} Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” {53} And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead. {54} But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” {55} Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat. {56} And her parents were astonished, but He charged them to tell no one what had happened.

Third Lesson:

HH 329. …Every child, wherever he is born, whether within the church or outside of it, whether of pious parents or impious, is received when he dies by the Lord and trained up in heaven, and taught in accordance with Divine order, and imbued with affections for what is good, and through these with knowledges of what is true; and afterwards as he is perfected in intelligence and wisdom is introduced into heaven and becomes an angel.

HH 445. When the body is no longer able to perform the bodily functions in the natural world that correspond to the spirit’s thoughts and affections, which the spirit has from the spiritual world, man is said to die. This takes place when the respiration of the lungs and the beatings of the heart cease. But the man does not die; he is merely separated from the bodily part that was of use to him in the world, while the man himself continues to live. It is said that the man himself continues to live since man is not a man because of his body but because of his spirit, for it is the spirit that thinks in man, and thought with affection is what constitutes man. Evidently, then, the death of man is merely his passing from one world into another. And this is why in the Word in its internal sense “death” signifies resurrection and continuation of life.

  1. 1See AC 2289, HH 329

Three Gates to Spiritual Life


A sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto, May 30, 2010

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

The Scriptures frequently use the imagery of a “door” or “gate” to represent the way that our lives pass from one state to another. Most often, it has to do with the passage from this world to the next, and carries with it the suggestion that some ways are better than others. Today we will look at three places in the New Testament where the Lord speaks about “doors” or “gates” to see how the three different usages combine to give a more complete idea.

  1. I am the gate of the sheep. (JOH 10:1-10)
  2. As presented in the first lesson, we are to picture a simple walled enclosure where the sheep are kept safe at night as a representative of heaven.
  3. The concept of the life after death is presented in very simple ways:
  4. a)Outside the sheepfold is dangerous, inside it is safety and peace.
  5. b)Even though the world is dark and full of danger, the walls provide protection for those sheep who have obeyed the shepherd and gone in through the gate.
  6. c) The shepherd “keeps” the gate. The sheep are allowed in, the bad and dangerous creatures are kept out.
  7. The lesson carried in the internal sense is also simple and clear:
  8. In the Word, a “door” represents “truth and good.” It is evident then that the meaning is that entrance to heaven is by means of the truth and good provided to us by the Shepherd. We draw the rules of life from the Word, and we do our best to live according to those rules, and in so doing we are passing through the door from the world of nature into the Lord’s eternal kingdom.[1]
  9. Equally clear is what happens to those who try to find some other way to guide their life:
  10. A “thief” denotes the evil of merit; for he who takes away from the Lord what is His, and claims it for himself, is called a “thief.” As this evil closes the way and prevents good and truth from the Lord from flowing in, it is said “to murder” and “to Destroy.” [2]
  11. There are lots of other places in the Word where this simple truth, that the only way to heaven is to follow the rules set out by the Lord in the Word, is presented.
  12. Cain murdering Abel – faith alone instead of the life of charity.
  13. Tower of Babel – brick and slime to take the place of stone and mortar.
  14. Saul, unable to wait for Samuel, prepares a sacrifice himself.
  15. The rich young ruler who asked the Lord how to gain spiritual life, and was sad to hear the answer because he didn’t want to change his way of life, and so on.
  16. (Mat 7:13-14) “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. {14} “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.[3]
  17. The context of this teaching is that the disciples had been listening to the Lord giving His sermon on the Mount, telling them many things about salvation and how to live the life that leads to heaven. They, like us, were curious about whether this was something that would be possible for the average person to achieve. The wanted to know if it was really hard to get to heaven, or if lots of people would be able to do it.
  18. In his answer to them, the Lord does seem to be saying that it is very hard to get into heaven, because there are “few” who find the “narrow gate.”
  19. We’ve already established that the “gate” in this lesson means truths and goods from the Lord. So, we need to ask ourselves what makes the gate narrow and difficult in this story, when it seemed so simple and easy to find in the story about the sheepfold and the gentle shepherd.
  20. The sheep have no problem getting through the gate, because they represent people who are in innocence, people who are ready to follow the Lord in simplicity and love.
  21. The people have trouble getting through the gate because they are not innocent. They are carrying a bunch of spiritual “baggage” with them.
  22. a)Many subway systems throughout the world have automated ticket gates. If all you have is a briefcase or newspaper in your hand, the gates pose no problem at all. On the other hand, if you are using the subway to get to the airport with some luggage, getting through that same gate takes on a whole new meaning.
  23. b)Or imagine an ancient fortified city such as Jerusalem. Many of the entrances were deliberately kept narrow so that they would be easier to defend against an enemy. That would make it very difficult for a heavily loaded merchant on his way to the market to get through.

(1)               Is this where we get the “camel through the eye of the needle” passage?

  1. c)It’s not the gate that’s the problem – it’s all the extra stuff – loves of self and the world, and all the false ideas that support them – that we are carrying around with us. If we can just put those burdens down, the narrow gate works just fine!

(1)               It’s only an appearance that the Lord is making things difficult – we blaming the gate when the problem is our own.

III.                Holy city new Jerusalem. (REV 21)

  1. A later, more developed view. The sheepfold has become a city, the single gate becomes 12.
  2. A great and high wall, but three gates on each side.
  3. a)A single gate represents the truths and goods in an individual’s mind that prepares them for heaven. “Twelve gates” represent all the goods and truths of the church.
  4. b)That they are on each side of the Holy City represents that people of every spiritual region are welcome in the Lord’s eternal kingdom.
  5. Each gate an individual pearl
  6. a)The “pearly gates” of song and story.

(1)               The knowledge and acknowledgement that the Lord Jesus Christ is the One God of heaven and earth.

(i)                 The gates will not be shut at all by day – and it is never night there.

(ii)               The gates will bring the glory and honour of the nations into the Holy City.

(2)               Yet another way to speak to the openness of the Lord’s kingdom. Everyone, from every nation, is welcome provided that they have the two essentials of the church:

(i)                 Love to the Lord.

(ii)               The life of charity towards the neighbour.

(a)               But no one who is not written in the Lamb’s book of Life can enter.

  1. As we reflect on the course of our lives and the decisions we make it can be helpful to reflect on the many teachings that the Lord has given in the Word to encourage us to do the work of self-examination and repentance, to show us that it is not as difficult as it might sometimes seem. In these three selections from Scripture, we are being led from generals to particulars.
  2. Sheepfold: The simple basic idea that the Lord is our gentle shepherd and if we, in simple innocence, follow His lead, the gate will be opened and we can dwell in safety in the heavenly sheepfold.
  3. The teaching about the “narrow gate” develops the idea by adding the teaching that the difficulties we face getting through the gate are not of the Lord’s making. We need to look at the burdens we are carrying with the purpose of setting them down. Most of the things we worry about are things we won’t need in the other life anyway. We shouldn’t worry so much about things. The Lord will provide the things that we really need if we ask Him to give them to us.
  4. The Holy City takes us to the next step by telling us what the burdens are that we need to put down:
  5. a)Anything that defiles.
  6. b)Anything that causes an abomination.
  7. c)Anything that is a lie.
  8. d) In other words, false ideas arising from the loves of self and the world, and the deeds that result from them; all the things that we should be searching for in our hearts and minds as we prepare ourselves for eternal life.

But the promise, the Covenant, underlies it all, and we should also remember these words of the Lord as we do the work of self-examination, repentance, and reformation, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (JOH 10:9) Amen.


First Lesson:  JOH 10:1-10

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. {2} “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. {3} “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. {4} “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. {5} “Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” {6} Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. {7} Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. {8} “All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. {9} “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. {10} “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Second Lesson:  Rev. 21:9-13, 21-27

{9} Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” {10} And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, {11} having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. {12} Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: {13} three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

{21} The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. {22} But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. {23} The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. {24} And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour into it. {25} Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). {26} And they shall bring the glory and the honour of the nations into it. {27} But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Third Lesson:  HH 534.

The way that leads to heaven, and the way that leads to hell were once represented to me. There was a broad way tending towards the left or the north, and many spirits were seen going in it; but at a distance a quite large stone was seen where the broad way came to an end. From that stone two ways there branched off, one to the left and one in the opposite direction to the right. The way that went to the left was narrow or restricted, leading through the west to the south, and thus into the light of heaven; the way that went to the right was broad and spacious, leading obliquely downwards towards hell. All at first seemed to be going the same way until they came to the large stone at the place where two ways met. When they reached that point they were separated; the good turned to the left and entered the restricted way that led to heaven; while the evil, not seeing the stone at the fork of the ways, fell upon it and were hurt; and when they rose up they ran on in the broad way to the right which went towards hell. [2] What all these things signified was afterwards explained to me: namely, that by the first way which was broad, wherein many both good and evil went together and talked with each other as friends, because there was no visible difference between them, were represented those who in externals live alike honestly and justly, and between whom seemingly there is no difference. By the stone where the two ways met or at the corner, upon which the evil fell and from which they then ran along the way leading to hell, was represented the Divine Truth, which is rejected by those who look towards hell; and in the highest sense by this stone was signified the Lord’s Divine Human. But those who at the same time acknowledged the Truth and the Divine of the Lord were borne along the way that led to heaven. From these things again it was clear that in externals the evil lead the same kind of life as the good, or go the same way, that is, one as readily as the other; and yet that those who from the heart acknowledge the Divine, especially those within the Church who acknowledge the Divine of the Lord, are led to heaven; while those who do not are borne to hell.



[1]See AC 2356:2

[2]AC 5135:12

[3]Cf. LUK 13:24