When one of our loved ones passes away, we usually have a funeral, a wake, a memorial or some other means of remembering the one who has passed away. Each section of society has their own special traditions for how they deal with death. If the deceased is truly loved, the family will mourn the loss. Family members remember events in life there were special to them and now they appreciate that they will no longer be able to enjoy that family fellowship again. When Jacob died, the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days in Egypt then took his body to Canaan and mourned seven additional days there (Genesis 50:3,10). When Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha died, the sisters mourned for him (John 11:19). We also read about the disciple Dorcus dying. They called for Peter. Acts 9:39 “Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them.” While Peter resurrected Dorcus to life, my point is that we have examples of Christians mourning over the loss of fellow Christians.
While it is appropriate to mourn the loss of loved ones, we can also rejoice. If a loved one has lived a long life or has been sick or has suffered a painful disease, death may come as a relief. We might rejoice with them when they die because they no longer have to suffer here. We are promised a new body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” I’m looking forward to my new body.
Perhaps there will be those at a funeral who are not believers. Non-believers have no hope for a life after death. For them, life has a different meaning than for a Christian. Perhaps they have spent their life in seeing what they can get out of life to please themselves. But there can be this hopelessness that life doesn’t have much meaning. When we speak about our loved one who has died and that he will be resurrected and given a new body, that should create interest in the non-believer. When the apostle Paul preached to the Areopagus in Athens, some were interested to hear more. Acts 17:30-32 “’Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.’ And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, ‘We will hear you again on this matter.’” The proof of life after death is given by the resurrection of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” Christ’s resurrection is a powerful testimony that we will also be resurrected and be made alive after death. Be ready to share your faith with an unbeliever.
There will be others at the funeral who believe but have forgotten the need to be ready. Maybe they have let the things of this world distract them from what is important. Jesus gave the following description in Mark 4:18-19 “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” A funeral is a good time to remind us that we do not live forever and that life is short. Our time to die could come at any time. We can each ask ourselves if we are ready to go.
We have been promised life after death. We have been given exceedingly great and precious promises. 2 Peter 1:4-11 “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” The picture may be of a Roman general triumphantly entering Rome after conquering his enemies. We also can have the picture of ourselves being grandly welcomed into the everlasting kingdom of Christ. But we have to be ready.
I think that a funeral is a good time to remind us all. We do not live forever. Our time to die could come soon. Now is the time to strengthen our faith in Jesus and His resurrection from the dead. I encourage you to make any changes that you need to make in your life now so that you will be ready to go.