The Death in Christ will Rise First (Sunday, November 8, 2020)

1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18 

Dear friends in Christ, so many things are happening in our nation day after day, such that some Christians have become unsure of how things will be and are in need of attempts to calm their troubled spirits, to assure them that, after death, we will be reunited with all those we have within the presence of our loving God. Let’s receive this affirmation through our spiritual tonic on the theme: The Death in Christ will Rise First, drawn from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

As Christians, we have the hope that death isn’t the end but that is absolutely no reason to deny the entirely human need to grieve and mourn when lose someone we love, to police brutality, the killings of harmless protesters, sickness, accident, violent killers of Boko-Haram, Fulani Herders and Bandits. After all, even Jesus mourned and wept at the loss of His friend, Lazarus.

St. Paul does not prohibit grief – he wants us to avoid hopeless grief, which is altogether different. “We do not want you to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope” – and that is the difference the Christian faith can bring. Truly, death isn’t the end. God’s love and care transcends time and space, transcends even life and death and that His love and care are constant for us throughout all things.

The way to have hope in the midst of loss, of course, is by holding fast to the knowledge of the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is why St. Paul says that he doesn’t want us to be ignorant – for there is a link between ignorance and hopeless grief. Thus, the apostle uses the metaphor “fallen asleep” for death. In the Old Testament, there was the idea that death was the period of rest after labour. That is why the Patriarchs and kings were said to have slept with their fathers”

Further, thinking that death is only a temporary state and that, just as sleep is followed by waking, so death is followed by resurrection. Thus, Daniel 12:2 says, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will wake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. “And, of course, Jesus drew on this idea in John 11:11 with regard to Lazard: “our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.

The hope we have cannot be separated from the ministry of Jesus Christ. “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.” This is linking us to the second coming of Jesus. Jesus will physically return. The dead will be with Jesus as well as the living. The dead and the living will be together with each other. There is that assurance of hope. We all belong together, both the dead and living now and for all eternity. We will never be separated from Christ for any moment,

We will be with Lord Jesus Christ at His second coming. We will never be separated from God and we will be reunited with those we love for all eternity. Don’t forget that the pastoral intent of Christ through St. Paul is to encourage us in our anxiety about what has happened to us in the death of our loved ones. And that intent or purpose is shown in: “Therefore, encourage each other with these words.”

As we approach the season of advent, as we soon begin to think about waiting for Jesus, we can do so in the assurance and firm hope that, one day, in whatever way, we will be fully reunited with God and fully reunited with those we love who have already gone to Christ in death. That in itself, is a real cause for celebration and comfort and we think of God for hope He has given us, that in Christ all things will be reunited in Him.

Let’s pray: Lord Jesus, shine through the gloom and point me to the skies. Abide with me! Amen.

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