How relevant is Jesus to our life today? Someone shared with me at worship Sunday that a dear friend of theirs had died. Death is something we all face – normally several times during our life – close friends, parents, siblings, a spouse … it’s inevitable. When Jesus heard of His friend Lazarus’ illness He told His apostles, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep.” (John 11:11) How we need Jesus’ perspective of death: he’s “fallen asleep.”
Don’t we look forward to sleep? Don’t we enjoy a good rest? It is certainly nothing to dread. Jesus told John, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” (Revelation 14:13) From this side we see death as an enemy, as something to be avoided, perhaps even something to hate. But God sees it as the ultimate healing, the ultimate blessing, the ultimate goal of our life here on earth.
For the believer it is a time of praise, a time of celebration, a time of great joy — for the life-long desire of our loved one has been met. She/he has graduated; leaving this pre-school we call earth to really live. He/she has received that inheritance that he has been looking forward to for years – and that God has been preparing from the foundation of the world.
Jesus wept when He saw Lazarus’ sister and her friends crying – but His tears weren’t for Lazarus. They were for those who were missing him. As Christians the Bible says that we “don’t grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) But we do grieve; it’s just not for the believer who has fallen asleep in Jesus. It’s for ourselves and our loss, but quickly we find comfort in the loved one’s incredible gain. And we realize, just as Jesus told us, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who trusts in Me will live, even though they die. And everyone who lives by believing in Me will never die.” (John 11:25-26) I can’t wait until that day when I close my eyes here and open them upon the face of Jesus – because then I will begin to really live!