In 11 years as a pastor, I have officiated at over 100 funerals. I have conducted a funeral for an infant, for a teenager, for friends, and for family members. I feel well-acquainted with death, and yet in no sense am I used to it. Death never fails to upset and bother me. I admit this knowing that death bothered and upset Jesus. Even after declaring to Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), Jesus nonetheless wept at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). Yes, not even the assurance of raising Lazarus back to life was enough to prevent Jesus from grieving.
Death is an intrusion. It was not a part of humanity’s original context. In this sense, it does not belong. The Bible tells us that death was only introduced as a direct consequence to Adam and Eve’s sin. In other words, human beings were not originally designed to die, but to live, and to enjoy unfettered communion with God.
Sin changed that.
But God, not wanting death and sin to get the last word, sent His Son into this world. On Good Friday, when the Son of God was nailed to a cross, death was dealt a death blow. The great enemy of death has been overcome. This is why the apostle Paul can remind us that we do not grieve as others do (1Thess. 4:13). Our grief is permeated with hope and lined with the assurance of victory.
I realize that is more easily said from a pulpit than it is from a hospital bed. Recognizing this, when I delivered the message “The Death Blow To Death” this past Good Friday, I referenced my friend Rachel Barkey. Rachel is an encouragement to all who wonder what faith ought to look like in the face of suffering. (I recently blogged about Rachel’s message to nearly 600 women on March 4 of this year). Rachel is a young mother of two who is bravely living with cancer while boldly testifying to the goodness of God. Rachel’s perspective on death and her faith in Jesus Christ is nothing short of inspirational.
I hope the message below is an encouragement to all who struggle to cope with the intrusion of death.
When Jesus uttered the words “It is finished” (John 19:30), He meant it. Death has been overcome.