Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God! // 1 Corinthians 15 (MSG)
Death is weird. And we don’t know how to respond to it if we are honest. Which may be why funerals can often be so chaotic. There is a finality to it, an abruptness to it, that feels out of place, like, it’s not supposed to be this way. And in many ways, it’s not.
The Scripture tells us that Eternity is set in the heart of man.
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. // Ecclesiastes 3:11
The Westminster Shorter Catechism appropriately claims that man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.
This is what was set in motion in the Garden, until our first parents believed the lie about God and death and exile entered the story, and disrupted humanity.
Being rich in mercy and love, sets into motion the dramatic true story of a God who pursues His people, culminating in the Hero King Jesus, conquering the grave, crushing the snake, and triumphing over sin. This decisive victory has won for all of those who would put their faith, hope and allegiance in the person of Jesus alone, and His life, death, and resurrection alone, the inheritance of eternal life with Jesus forever.
Easter provides for us more than just an answer to what happens when we die, it gives us the confidence and hope for the life we live now.
Because we know, that while death is a heart breaker, the grave does not have the final word in our story. When we live with that kind of confidence, we can walk in the ways of Jesus, and image, and improv (to borrow a term from my friend Brian), Him wherever we show up in the world.
I think this is why Jesus was so determined to break up funerals in His Earthly ministry. His friend Lazarus, the son of the Widow of Nain, the daughter of Jairus, all brought back to life by Jesus. Even Paul and Peter, by the power of the Holy Spirit, were used by God to bring back Tabitha and poor Eutychus, who fell out of a window during a particularly long sermon.
And of course, Jesus Himself, cancelled His own funeral on Easter morning.
The life of Jesus is remarkable, truly, altering the course of human history, turning the world upside down with His teaching and miracles. The death of Christ on His cross is absolutely essential and deserves constant contemplation and remembrance. But the Resurrection is Good News, of a Good King, and His Good Kingdom, that has conquered that for which we have no answer for. The result of the resurrection for those who believe, is a hope and a confidence that should give us the kind of boldness we see with our brothers and sisters in the book of Acts. As the Holy Spirt lit the flame of the Church, we see a people who changed the world and from a small room, became a global movement for the fame of Jesus and the good of the world. How? By testifying to the Risen Lord, Jesus the Christ.
On Easter, I often think of friends of mine whose stories have continued into the presence of Jesus. AJ, Tom, Jessie, to name a few. All of whom know just how real the resurrection really is. And if we could see what they see, and experience what they are experiencing, we’d never stop talking about it, singing about it, being about it. Which is what they are no doubt doing.
This Easter, we join our voice to theirs, and the voices of countless through human history, who give glory and honor to the One who has conquered death, sin, and our guilt, once and for all.
Hallelujah, What a Savior!Pastor Paul Artino