Physical death brings sorrow because when we lose someone we love, it makes us sad. In the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-2, 5:13-16, 7:2-4) emphasizes the sadness brought about by death. We know that Jesus himself felt the sorrow of losing a loved one. After Lazarus died, when Jesus saw all the mourning by Martha, Mary, and the others, the Bible says that "Jesus wept" (John 11:32-35).
Yet, for Christians, there is another side to death. There is sorrow, but there is also the assurance of faith. We believe that if someone dies in the Lord, it is not just the end of earthly life, but the beginning of something far better. In these instances, the Bible tells us that our sorrow is tempered with joy.
The Gospel of Luke (Luke 7:11-18) tells a dramatic story of how Jesus brings life out of death. A widow who lived in a small town called, Nain, was going to her son’s funeral. In the midst of this funeral procession, Jesus intersects. He stops the death march and gives the dead boy new life. This demonstration of Jesus’ power brought great comfort to the grieving mother and it also showed Jesus’ compassion. But there was an even greater purpose!
What Jesus did for this widow and her son gives all Christians the hope of a future resurrection from the dead that will result in eternal life. Just as Jesus raised this widow’s son, someday he will return to raise all the dead and take his people home to be with him forever. Jesus’ act gave glory to God and witnessed to all the people that God’s presence and power was in him. Funerals are typically sad occasions, but Jesus turned this funeral into a time of joy.
All of us need to be prepared for death, not only in making provisions for our own funeral and burial, but also in our spiritual preparation and living the kind of life that Jesus has promised to those who would follow him — “to walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4).
Having a relationship with Jesus Christ makes this Scripture real in our lives: “In Christ, shall all be made alive (I Corinthians 15:22) ... so that when our bodies are raised from the dead, we can have eternal life with Christ in heaven.”
Wells is a retired pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.