I have taken hundreds of funerals. Literally, hundreds. They usually involve sadness and mourning (understandably), but occasionally something funny will happen that’s unexpected. For example – standing in the crematorium, and what song starts playing? ‘Smoke gets in your eyes’. Or ‘Great balls of fire’. You couldn’t make it up!
On Friday we remember a funeral – the funeral of Jesus. We remember the sacrifice, the pain, and ultimately our forgiveness, won through the cruel death that Jesus endured. Because we know what happens on Easter Sunday, it can be easy to forget or neglect Good Friday, and reflect on how those first disciples of Jesus must have felt – who didn’t yet know what was to come. But we must not forget – for there is no resurrection without death. That is true for Jesus Christ, and true for us.
So – have you died? In John 12:24-26 Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.”
If you want a fruitful life, you must die to yourself, give up your agenda and take on God’s.
I am married. I wear a wedding ring and the ring is what shows me that I’m married. Obviously wearing the ring doesn’t make me married, it is a sign of what has already happened.
What shows that I’m “dead”? What’s the mark? Baptism. What’s baptism all about? Death and resurrection. If you are baptised, you have signed up for death and resurrection life. Both those things.
So, keep on dying. Daily. We daily take up our cross and follow him. Do this, and according to Jesus in 12:26, the Father “will honour you” for this kind of service. There will be much blessing… you will see resurrection life NOW and in eternity.
There’s no resurrection life without death. So don’t be afraid to come to the funeral on Good Friday and truly reflect and enter into the death which came before the glorious resurrection life of Easter Day.