Defeating death before we die

     I have a funeral to do today, and I always get nervous doing funerals because all eyes, if only briefly, are on me. And for what, pray tell? For a message that tries to make sense of death.  

     There is no sense in death, though. Here’s a person who’s lived for 90 years and we’ll compress his lifetime into a 30 minute funeral service, followed by a reception and a gravesite interment, share a few memories and all go home. 

     It’s awful. He’s got nine decades of accumulated wisdom and memories to share, and he’s dead. The stories people tell of him, the great services he performed, and the wonderful legacy he left, will soon be forgotten, too. And for some odd reason, people like to call funerals a “celebration of life!”

     But actually, they’re right. A funeral for a Christian IS a celebration of life, because the man’s not dead! “Whoever lives and believes in me,” Jesus said, “will never die (John 11:26).” Now that’s a whole new twist on death. Death is no longer death when a person believes in Christ. Shocking? Yes. Even Jesus had to ask, “Do you believe this?”  

     Believe what, though? Verse 25, it’s believing that Jesus is the “resurrection and the life,” because anyone who believes that “will live, even though he dies.” In other words, for simply believing that Jesus is the source of our eternity, a Christian receives a life that will carry him right through a physical death. He can die physically but not be dead. 

     We can actually defeat death, then, before we die! Or defeat death while we’re still alive! And the secret? Believing Jesus is our eternal life.

     But why should we believe he’s our eternal life? Because he defeated death himself, for starters. Proof? He came back to life again. So Jesus knows all about defeating death because he’s already done it. For him to say, then, that he’ll do the same for us, carries the weight of his own experience behind it.

     But it’s more than that. When Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe this?” she answered, “Yes, Lord, (verse 27), I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” And she believed this BEFORE Jesus was resurrected, not after, too.

     So what made her believe even without the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection yet? Simple. It was the Bible, because the Bible had said the likes of Jesus would come along (John 6:14), and that was enough for her.

     But how do I get that across at a funeral? One can only try.


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