Most of us are uncomfortable talking about death. We’re careful how we talk about death. Even in cemeteries and funeral homes. In the death care industry, certain terms have been changed to help people feel more comfortable. The deceased is never called a corpse, they are called a “loved one.” The vehicle that carries the casket is no longer called a hearse, it’s called a casket coach. The word cemetery is no longer in vogue, people prefer memorial park.
After someone dies, we try to mask the fact that they are gone.
Embalming and death cosmetology have become huge industries. The president of Dinair Airbrush Systems, which specializes in making loved ones look good, believes that cremation without viewing would be less popular if “people didn’t look so dead.” She cited a recent survey that said 75% of mortuary customers were unhappy with the appearance of the deceased. It makes you wonder about the other 25% who were happy with what death had done for the looks of their loved ones.
Death seems unnatural to us.
This makes us different from the rest of the creatures on this planet. Philip Yancey put it like this. “Nature treats death as a normal occurrence, the foundation of the all important food chain. Only we as humans react with shock as though we can’t get used to the fact. We dress up our corpses in new clothes, embalm them and bury them in airtight caskets. In a way unique to our species, we are not fully at home here. As a symptom of that fact, we feel stirrings toward something higher and more lasting.”
Death is a part of life.
It’s the last part, but it’s part. And it’s scary. It doesn’t seem like it should end here. There seems like there should be something more.
That’s where Jesus comes in. He makes the greatest promise any of us could ever expect to hear. The most famous verse in the bible puts it simply.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
If we only believe in him, we will not perish but will have eternal life. That is the greatest gift anyone can ever receive. And Jesus already purchased it with his own blood on the cross. He was also the first one to cash in on the promise when three days later he rose from the grave on Easter.
There is an old story about a florist who mixed up two orders one busy day. One arrangement when to a new business that was opening, and the other went to a family who had a death. The man with the new business came in ticked off and said “The flowers that got delivered to my opening day said “Rest in Peace.” The florist said, “You think you’re mad; you should have seen the people who just left. A bouquet was delivered to their family’s funeral that said, “Good luck in your new location.”
For the person who knows Jesus, death is not the end of life.
It’s simply a change of address. Jesus promises us life. Eternal life. Stephen Wright once said, “I intend to live forever. So far so good.” If we believe in Jesus, we can do just that.
Jesus says we will not perish, but we will have eternal life. Perish is a word we usually use to describe food. We have all had someone in our lives say this to us. “Could you come over here and smell this and tell me if it’s gone bad?” My mom used to do that. I hated that job.
In John 3:16, Jesus makes a bold statement about our perishable bodies. It’s a statement that no one has made before or since. If you only believe in him, you will not perish. There will be a time when our bodies will not perish. They won’t get wrinkles. No more fat. They won’t grow hair out of our ears. Our bodies will be strong. They will have power. Our bodies will function at peak performance. They will be glorious.
Let me simplify the most famous verse in the bible even further.
Notice, we only have one responsibility. We simply have to believe. He loves. So much so that he gave his son. The son willingly died on an old rugged cross to make a way for us to spend eternity with him. That puts the ball in our court. Do we believe or do we not believe?
If we make the choice to believe that last line describes us. We live!
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have to die to collect. In John 10:10 Jesus said, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Not just in the future. Not just when you die. But a rich and satisfying life starting now.
The word believe that Jesus uses is an action word. It’s not a passive belief like, I believe in the Easter bunny or I believe in Bigfoot. It’s a belief that requires action. Its saying to God, “I believe, therefore I put my life in your hands.”
I know you don’t like to think about death during this holiday, but this death is worth considering. He loves. He gave. We can live life to the fullest here and for eternity. It comes down to one question.