I attended a funeral this morning for a gentleman I thoroughly enjoyed knowing. Richard Anderson loved to eat – he always went through the line first at our church fellowships. Dick, as I always knew him, loved flying and was rebuilding a World War II-era plane at the time of his death – he showed me all the progress he was making toward completing that project; to the consternation of my wife, I even volunteered to go with Dick on his maiden voyage.
I moved to Roanoke shortly before the 2012 Presidential Election, and the Sunday before the election, I spoke of the Obama-Romney contest in light of God’s sovereignty. As he came out of worship that morning, Dick wanted to know how I planned to vote; I hemmed and hawed, but Dick was going to have an answer. I tentatively gave my answer and breathed a sigh of relief when my choice matched his.
If I preached a tad too long, Brother Anderson was going to let me know about it. I must admit that I loved the Sunday mornings he blamed the lengthy service on the song leaders rather than the preacher.
Dick died this past week after a long battle with cancer. Dick knew more about bodily suffering than I’ve ever known in my short sojourn. The cancer caused him untold pain and whenever I visited with Dick, he always had a hard time getting in anything resembling a comfortable position. Yet, because Dick died in Christ, he now safely rests in the Paradise of God.
Last week, I started writing about some of the blessings God gives us in the midst of adversity. I know of no greater blessing God gives as we struggle through this life than the empty tomb of Jesus. That empty tomb is among the most verifiable of historical events. For example, consider:
- In a time when the testimony of woman wasn’t permitted in court, why would the Apostles record women found the tomb empty unless women really found the tomb empty?
- Why would the Apostles write about themselves as dimwits who only grasped Jesus’ teachings after His Resurrection unless they were really dimwits who only grasped Jesus’ teachings after His Resurrection?
- Why did the Jewish aristocracy never produce Jesus’ rotting corpse to silence the insanity of the Apostles?
- Why even a century after Jesus’ Resurrection, did Jews still claim that the disciples had stolen the body?
The empty tomb of Jesus ought to fill every Christian with hope and expectation. On that Great Day, if we are living, our corruptible bodies shall be changed to be like His incorruptible body; if we are dead, our rotting corpses shall become eternal, spiritual bodies. We shall rise from this world to meet the Lord in the air and to be with Him forever.
Think about the hope we have because Jesus vanquished death.
- Our bodies may wear out, but we have a home with God eternal in the heavens.
- We may know great pain, but, in the New Jerusalem, we shall be comforted.
- No cure may ever be found for our ailments, but the Great Physician shall banish all sickness.
- We may cry tears of disappointment, but God shall wipe away all tears.
- We may feel burdened and crushed, but God raises the dead.
What blessed hope! What great expectation! A hope and an expectation fully realized when Jesus burst through the skies with shouts of glory!