Though when death comes, and we decay,
And our bones scattered be,
Though they may lie beneath the sky,
Or covered by the sea,
When back to Earth Lord Jesus comes,
The Holy One descend,
Then all who lived shall rise and see -
The grave is not the end!
That's not a masterpiece, but it came to me recently. It's worth reminding myself. John Donne put it in far better form when he wrote "Death be not proude". He tells death to give up its pretensions. It is not a condition which captures people. It is an event which they (we!) go through. The spirit leaves the body. And when that happens, even though physical remains may be scattered and lost, the spirit remains intact and alive. It is immortal. Sometime in the future the day will come when Jesus returns to Earth, and then....
Some years ago I heard a body builder who did some male modelling say: "If you've got something, why not show it off? We'll all be dust in two hundred years."
He reckons, does he? Some people might be better off if we were only unfeeling dust. Then there would be no consequences to face.
When the souls of all who ever lived rise from bodily death, we stand before God and it will be known: who believed God, believed Jesus, and was given the collossal blessing of pardoning for all wrong doing? And who thought it was all rubbish, and ignored Jesus' calling? Come to that, who am I to get up on a high horse about it? The answer: someone who was saved, even though I did not deserve it; and the least I can do is tell anyone else who will listen.
We won't be dust. The greatest part of our existence will start then, and it goes forever. The grave is NOT the end. It is the beginning. So we need to get it right. We need to know how we escape the hurt anger of God asking,'what did you do with the life I gave you?'
I can still cringe inwardly thinking of some of the stupid, mean, selfish or plain nasty things I've done in life, and ask God for forgiveness. It's probably a good thing, so I don't get complacent and forget that I need pardoning - big time. And it would even be vain to talk as if my sins were worse than lots of other peoples'. But waiting beyond this life is either non-ceasing joy or non-ceasing regret. The grave is only the departing point from this earth. When the women went to Jesus' tomb to find His body the angel said that He was not there, because He had risen. Now Jesus is a special and unique case; but He made the way for resurrection, and in a sense it is true to say at any persons' grave that they are not there. The earthly remains are still there, but the real them, the spirit, their real identity is not. It has passed on.
A Christian brother I met recently shared this. The letters BIBLE can stand for
For our own good we need to know certain things before we do so: who Jesus is, and why we need to know and follow Him.
That way the grave leads to entry to God's Kingdom, not to rejection from it.
The grave is not the end.
That is why Jesus came - to tell us.
That's why we celebrate Christmas. He came to save us.