by Keith Bassham
Easter is upon us, so I was already thinking about resurrection themes, and that is fortunate for me today, since I must officiate a funeral tomorrow.
A good friend, a pastor’s friend, passed from this life earlier in the week, and it came to me that before a resurrection can happen, a death must occur. The Bible is correct in saying “in Adam, all die.” Children of Adam are mortal, and fragile, and very, very breakable. Not that many days ago, my friend had a body that could walk and talk and laugh and yell at us even if he had a mind to. But he is now a testament to the truth of Psalm 103: “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.”
And not only are we breakable physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. As a child of Adam, my friend knew pain, and heartbreak, and he experienced the human responses to pain and heartbreak. He knew anger and grief, and as all children of Adam can, he could lash out and say things that children of Adam say to one another and, even if he suppressed those outbursts, he could think dark, ugly thoughts … and he could feel shame and remorse and embarrassment. All these things go with being a child of Adam. All in all, I’d say that God is right to pity us as the Psalmist says.
But my friend was not merely a child of Adam. He was also a child of God, having placed his trust in Christ, and having demonstrated that trust by serving his Lord many years. Therefore, he (and we) can claim the great promise given by Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
And this is made possible because the resurrection of Jesus ensures our own resurrection. It is impossible for me to think of my friend at his advanced age without thinking about Abraham, and the faith he demonstrated in the promises of God by placing his beloved Sarah, not in the earth of his ancestral homeland, but in a tomb in Canaan. With this act of burying Sarah far from home he truly planted his flag, in effect saying, “I am God’s child, the object of his love and the recipient of his promise. Here I am, and here I will stay, no matter what.”
Implications? For one, the promises of God are not exhausted in this lifetime. My friend lives, and will live eternally as God has promised. Second, though the perspective of God is often beyond our grasp, we need not fear death or anything in our future. What we do need to is be persuaded of God’s promises, His everlasting love, and embrace that, and see it afar off, and confess that we strangers and pilgrims, on our way to something better.
Easter is a proclamation of these great facts. May yours be blessed.