Awhile back I was having lunch with my brother, Jon, and a man I had just met on the street named Gene. While we ate, Jon, Gene and I talked and Gene informed us that he had cirrhosis of the liver and the doctors had given him less than a year to live. After a few more pleasant things were said, my brother asked Gene if he ever gave much thought to eternity… what comes after all this. Gene’s face became very serious as he leaned over the table closer to us. “Oh yeah,” he said, “all the time… every day.”
“Do you have any idea what to expect when you die?” Jon asked.
Without hesitation and with full conviction, and a slight grin, Gene said, “I’m going to be with my Lord.”
We talked with Gene for a few more minutes. He told us about his salvation experience and how he walks daily with Jesus. Then we finished lunch and parted ways. In the days since my lunch and conversation with Jon and Gene I’ve thought about Gene quite a bit. Not really about Gene so much as about his approaching death. No one likes to think about or talk about death.
I read once that Jesus never went to a funeral where the dead person stayed dead. I decided to do a little studying for myself and sure enough the Bible passages I found that told of Jesus going to funerals he always brought the dead person back to life.
There was the little girl he took by the hand and she got off her death bed. In Luke he was passing by a funeral of the only son of a widow. He stopped the funeral and told the dead man “Young man, I tell you, get up!”
The most poignant passage is in John when Jesus raises his good friend Lazarus. As he is approaching the tomb where his good friend’s body has been for four days scripture says Jesus was “angry in Himself”. I can only imagine why Jesus was angry. We know he said this must happen so that those with him could see the Glory of God. I don’t believe he was angry at himself for not getting to Lazarus before he died. I don’t believe he was angry at the Father.
I picture in my mind Jesus standing before the tomb, his good friend inside and his family, friends and disciples heartbroken, grieving all around him. He pauses and his mind races back thousands of years to a once beautiful garden where sin has just entered and broken the world. A young man and his wife are standing, trembling, naked and ashamed… and dying… before their Father. Everything has changed. Forever.
It was never supposed to be like this. No one was meant to die. Death was not meant to be. But now… now Lazarus is dead and Jesus is angry… at death. The stone is rolled away and with that touch of anger in his voice Jesus tells death, “Today you will have no victory. Today is mine!” Then Jesus shouts, “Lazarus come out!” And he does.
Take comfort knowing God hates death. He conquered death so that we can live forever. And though our bodies may die for a time one day he will shout again and those who are asleep and we who remain will meet him in the air.