We began the day on Monday knowing that we would be going to a funeral in the morning and thinking that we would be doing ministry in the afternoon, but God decided to teach us that His plans were better than ours. The funeral was a long processional from the woman’s house to the church to the cemetery. We figured that the funeral would only last the morning, but we were wrong since the funeral activities went from 9 am to almost 4 pm.
I was asked by our pastor to speak at the funeral. This was a great honor for me, but it was something that I was nervous about because I had never preached a funeral before plus I did not know what was culturally expected of me. As I prayed over my message, the Holy Spirit led me to John 11.
This passage is the one story in scripture where Jesus comes to a day like we were having. As Jesus approached the home of His diseased friend, Lazarus, He is met by two grieving sisters. Through His conversation with these sisters comes the hope that we have in times of death.
The first truth was that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. We can have hope in death based on the fact that Jesus conquered death on the cross. I reminded the mourners that our sister’s hope when she stood before God was not because of her church attendance, her religious heritage, or her good works. She was able to stand before God because of Jesus’s righteousness on her behalf when He took her sins on the cross. Our hope in life and in death is found in the cross of Jesus Christ.
The second truth from John 11 was that Jesus mourns with those who mourn. Jesus cried at the funeral of Lazarus not for Lazarus but for the family and friends that Lazarus left behind. Though we have hope because of the gospel, the sting of death still exists. In times of grief, we have Savior that mourns with the mourner.
It was a great privilege to be able to proclaim the hope and the truth of the gospel to a mourning family and congregation. Our ministry today was not what we expected. We were given an opportunity to model the love of Jesus and proclaim the gospel of Jesus to people pondering their own deaths. Though ministry didn’t go as we had planned and prepared, God was still sovereign and working His plan for His glory according to His timing.