The End of Death
Since the beginning of May this year, we have hosted nearly 20 funerals here at CrossRoads Church. Way too many.
Some of these funerals have been for those who lived long, fruitful lives dedicated to the Lord’s service. They went to be with Jesus, and people came to the church to remember and celebrate the things God had done in these lives over the decades.
But some of the funerals here have been for stillborn babies, infants, children, teens, and adults whose lives were cut short. Mourners come to the church weeping over the unexpected or too-soon losses of those who should have had more time.
In many ways, it has been a sobering summer here at CrossRoads.
Nearly a year ago, my sister-in-law passed away from leukemia. After seven months of chemotherapy, she succumbed to the cancer that had sunk its claws into her body and would not let go. I watched as hospice came into their house with oxygen tanks and medication for comfort during the last few hours. I listened to my sister-in-law’s ragged breaths, and I cried with my family as we saw her struggle and finally ease out of life.
As I watched my sister-in-law pass away, I realized how unnatural death is. It happens to everyone, but the reality is that it shouldn’t. It is not how things are supposed to be.
Revelation 22 is the final words of the story God has been telling since Genesis — since the beginning. In Eden, Adam and Eve lived in the garden God had personally planted for them. God lived with them, walked with them, talked with them. It was beautiful and perfect and whole.
The earth is not quite as it should be. It floods and burns and wails with storms. It groans for restoration.
People sin against God and against each other. Our relationship with God is often faltering and fragmented — we separate ourselves from Him by our choices, by refusing to repent.
Things are not as they should be. People struggle with pain and suffering. Many are burdened with the consequences of their choices, or with the reality of a struggle that has come to them through no fault of their own.
We host funerals at CrossRoads and people come through our doors, grieving losses. They are in pain and burdened with sadness. Things are broken. This is not the way it was supposed to be.
But through it all, God’s story has continued. He has worked to restore our relationship with Him. He chose a family to begin the process. They were to represent Him and His ways. They failed.
He chose a king who would seek after Him and lead a great nation. He failed too.
But then came the One who would not fail. Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection from the dead was what could finally reconcile us. In order to begin to lift the curse, He became one for us. It was the victory that no one else could achieve.
The journey has begun — He is the road back to Eden. He is the road that leads to life and away from death.
We are not there yet. There are still mountains to climb, rivers to wade through, deep crevices in the road. People still struggle. We often choose sin instead of repentance. We still have funerals. It is not necessarily easier.
But the road home is there. The restoration has begun. The invitation has been sent.
And Revelation tells us that one day, all will be restored. “No longer will there be any curse.” God will again live among His people and the struggle will be gone. Death has been swallowed up in the victory of Jesus. Death does not get to win.
There is no way for me to rephrase what has been said so beautifully in God’s word:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:3-5
One day — one day – all will be restored. Believers in Jesus will go back to Eden. There will be no more tears, no more pain, no more funerals to host.
All will be as it should be.
Have you experienced the death of a loved one? What feelings did you experience? Do you find any hope in knowing that Jesus will defeat death once and for all? Join the conversation at the top of this post.