5/16/18 – Pastor Brian’s Blog  –

When I was a kid, I remember watching my dad run across the field (which wasn’t necessarily unusual) but what he was doing while he was running was very unusual. As he was running across the field towards our house, he was also trying to take his pants off! Come to find out, a bee had gotten into his pants and it kept stinging him and at that moment, the only way that my dad thought he could alleviate the pain of the sting… was to get out of his pants.

Death can sting as well. This past week I have had 3 friends affected by death. One friend lost his brother to death, one friend’s mom died, and another friend’s husband passed away suddenly.

Whether you die suddenly, or whether you die over time, the fact remains that you die. It does not matter how much money you have, how famous you are, how much political clout you have; no one has been able to escape death. The moment you start breathing at birth, you begin your road trip to earth’s final destiny: death. Many have tried, and much money and energy has been spent, but no one has developed an antidote for death.

I have been there, and maybe you have too; those funeral services where you walk away wondering, “What just happened?” There are many tears shed, people standing in front of the casket unable to control their emotions, the speaker shares no words of hope, there is nothing said about the afterlife, about heaven, only talk of what a nice person they were, or a list of accomplishments they achieved, or how difficult it will be to live without them.

Yet yesterday the funeral that I participated in, was so unlike the aforementioned funeral. My friends husband had been sick, but no one thought it was to the point of death. One day he was helping out friends, and the next day, he was dead. But his service was anything but sad. Oh, tears were shed and loss was felt, but there was much more laughter than tears, far more hope expressed than loss felt. There was talk about heaven, there was talk of seeing my friend’s husband again, and it was not expressed in some abstract way, it was expressed as a fact.

What was the difference? How do you go to a funeral for one person and walk away sad and distraught, never expecting to be with that person again, and then go to another funeral and walk away uplifted, encouraged, knowing that you will not only see your friend or family member again, but knowing that they are far better off now than you are?

The thing that takes the sting out of death is the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Death is no longer the inevitable foe; Jesus went to battle with death at the cross to pay for our sins, He then went to the gates of hell and defeated the power of death. And because Jesus conquered death, when we come into a personal relationship with Him, He passes on that victory over death to us.

When Jesus left earth after His resurrection, He left on a mission.  His mission was to prepare a place in heaven for those that accept Him as their personal Savior. How do we know? Jesus told us… Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3

That’s the difference! My friend knew where her husband was!  He in heaven, in the dwelling place that Jesus had prepared for Him. My friend did not lose her husband, she knew exactly where he was; he was with Jesus. Death did not rob her joy, because she understood that death was unable to steal eternal life from her husband.

And she knew this, because of what Jesus said in the next couple of verses… Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:5-6

For those of you that know me, you know I like simple, and Jesus keeps it pretty simple. Jesus said that “I am the Way” to heaven. He then said that He is “the truth” so He is not lying about the way. And then He said He is “the Life.”  Eternal life is found in Him. And then Jesus said, “no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

My friend’s husband wasn’t a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist, but you don’t need to be one to understand that Jesus is the only way to God. Because of the resurrection, everything changed, and my friend’s husband knew it. And now that he has passed, his faith has turned to sight.

Because of the resurrection, the Apostle Paul could write… “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 1 Corinthians 15:55

If you are reading this blog and you have never come into a personal relationship with Christ, as another good friend of mine says, all you need is the “AAA Jesus card.” Admit that you are a sinner (that is easy for most of us!) Acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross and then rose from the dead to pay for your sin. And the last one is easy, because Jesus did all the work, all we have to do is Accept His payment for our sins.

If you never have done this, just e-mail me at Pastor@Centerbarnsteadcc.org and I would be happy to tell you how you can take “the sting” out of your life.

I will never forget that day when I saw my dad running while at the same time trying to get out of his pants. That was a funny sight for this kid, but it is not funny, if when you die, you feel the sting of death. Because my dad received his “Jesus AAA card,” he never felt the sting of death. For my dad, death was the door that gave him access into heaven.

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