Death is not the end


                “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give to you whatever you ask.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me shall live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”  […]  Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb.  It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”  Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.  […] Now when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”  And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11: 21 – 27, & 38 – 44.)


                Jesus asked Martha if she believed, and she affirmed that her faith was true.  The Lord then walked with her to the tomb, and ordered the stone to be rolled back; he commanded Lazarus (who had been dead for four days) to arise and come forth; Lazarus was instantly restored to life.  As he staggered out of the tomb Martha’s mourning heart was healed; she had experienced a miracle; she had been reunited with her dead brother.  Those who have felt the devastating loss of a family member or friend can understand Martha’s pain (and her joy.)  Death has been causing extreme heartache and sorrow for thousands of years; it separates loved ones; it takes and never gives back; death is cold, and without remorse; it is always on time and never accepts no for an answer.  Yet in the midst of the mourning and sadness, Jesus Christ has the power and authority to reunite those who have been separated.  There is no death for those who believe.  In His kingdom relationships are renewed and restored; friendships are revived; widows embrace their husbands, and children are reconciled to their parents.

                Recently, a South African man suffered a very serious asthma attack.  His family examined him and he appeared unresponsive; he was not breathing and had no pulse.  They called the morgue to come and pick him up; upon arriving, the driver also examined the body, and deemed the man to be dead.  He collected the body, returned to the morgue and put the man in a freezer for 21 hours.  The morgue workers were startled and distressed when they began to hear someone calling out from within the frigid compartment.  They were so frightened that they first called the police to come and investigate the matter.  The police opened the freezer and discovered the dead man was very much alive.  As the family members were mourning together and planning the funeral they received a phone call informing them that their loved one was still living; in an instant, their hurting hearts were healed and their sadness was turned to joy.  This amazing story became headline news and a spokesman from the health department urged South Africans to leave pronouncing people dead to medical health professionals.

                In much the same way, when a believer dies they appear lifeless; their bodies turn cold and begin to decay; yet although they may be laid to rest in the ground, they are living with God in His Kingdom.  “To be absent from the body (is) to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5: 8.)  Have you felt the sting of death?  Have you experienced the sadness of a loss?  Is there someone you yearn to see again?  Take heart, for the lost are not truly lost; those who have died are not truly dead.  If you believe, you will be reunited with them (at least with those who were themselves believers.)  Your loved ones are waiting for you; they happily expect your embrace, and eagerly anticipate your arrival.  Believe in Christ and you will receive eternal life.  Hope in God’s promises and you will live forever.  Trust in the Lord and you will see those you have lost; faith will bring you to them, and your sorrow will turn to joy, and your heart will overflow with Gladness.

 “Lord Father, we ask for increased faith; strengthen us, and help us to trust in You.  We know that death no longer has power over us.  We are eternal and we will live forever with You in Your Kingdom.  We believe in Your son, and we trust in Your promises.  We know that many of our loved ones are with You; and we anxiously await the day of our reunion.  By the power of Your Holy Spirit, may we endure until that day.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”  God bless all of you.

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