I officiated at a funeral Saturday. I should never have had to do that. It was never meant to be this way.
In the Garden of Eden there was no relational discord; there were no prayers for healing; there was no pain of any kind; and there was no death or sorrow. It was life as God had intentionally designed it. However, it all fell apart when sin – disobedience and rejection of God – entered the world and polluted the earth and the people the Lord God had created.
Saturday we were confronted with the stark reality of sin. The doctors surely listed their medical reasons for why the man in the casket before me had died; but I know that ultimately it was the consequence of sin and living in a sin-polluted world
Death is the separation of the body from the soul. The reality that the family and friends gathered in the room were separated from their father, grandpa, uncle, friend, boss brought pain and sorrow into all of their lives and they were looking for comfort in their time of grief.
What they may not have realized (and what I endeavored to share with them) is that death brings pain to the heart of God, too. When Adam and Eve left the Garden they experienced a different kind of death – they were separated from God by sin – and it broke His heart. If something were not done, the separation would last for eternity. But God had a plan to overcome the physical and eternal consequences of sin – death – and restore the relationship He had designed in the beginning. God would come to earth in a man’s body and take the penalty and consequences of sin on himself so mankind could be justly forgiven.
So Jesus, God in the flesh, died a brutal death on the cross to be the ultimate sacrifice for sin. But it was not enough just to die for sin – Jesus had to demonstrate He had power over the consequence of sin – He had to be raised from the dead – and He was! Having paid for our sin and having conquered death, He offered the gift of forgiveness and reconciliation and made it available to everyone who would believe.
Thankfully, the man whose life we were celebrating had made the decision early in his life to place his faith and trust in Jesus and so took possession of the gift of forgiveness and life. And the choice he made years ago has left a legacy of faith that continues to impact his family and will for generations to come and on into eternity. This man’s relationship with Jesus is what made the service Saturday hopeful. And while the folks there grieved, it was not like people without hope.
God never intended for me to do funerals – but because of sin, I had to do one Saturday. However, I thank the Lord that the service was not about despairing over the impact of sin but celebrating what Jesus had done to restore life to the way it had been originally designed!