06.08.17

Death: A Joyous Reunion

Do you fear death? Not dying, but death itself? Most people are afraid of the unfamiliar. That is why the prospect of death strikes such fear. It’s hard to stand not knowing all the details surrounding what happens when we die. The Bible speaks often of death, but it limits the detail regarding what transpires when we breath our last. Well, the Bible commands Christians, not to fear, and that includes death. But the Bible also gives us good reason why we ought not to fear death. For the Christian, death means joy. How could something so awful bring joy? Because death ushers us into a joyous reunion. We are reunited with Christ and with our loved ones who have died in Christ.

A Reunion with Christ

The wonderful promise that the Christian must cling to, is that when you die, you are ushered into the presence of the Lord. There is no delay. The thief on the cross was comforted by Jesus with the words, “today you will be with me in paradise. ()” That is in keeping with the promise Jesus made to his disciples in , saying, “where I am, there will you be also.” This hope is what drove Paul to write to the Corinthians, saying, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (). For Paul, death meant joy. For in the presence of Christ, there is fullness of Joy (). Unspeakable joy, because those who die in Christ get to behold and worship, without sin, the One who saved their souls. In that place of reunion, we will fully understand what it means to belong to Christ. How comforting! On the other side of the corridor of death awaits our older brother who died for us, that we might be with him forever and experience true blessedness. Death means joy!

A Reunion with Loved Ones

A reunion with Christ is certainly enough to bring unspeakable joy. But to add gravy to an already satisfying dish, we get to be reunited with our loved ones who have also died in Christ. As Jacob breathed his last in , the Bible says, “he was then gathered to his people”. What people? His loved ones who had died believing the promises of God – Abraham, Isaac, Rachel, Leah and a multitude of other covenant family members. When believers are ushered into the presence of the Lord, they join the heavenly host the writer to the Hebrews speaks of, that are gathered in worship. That heavenly host includes our loved ones who have gone on before us. Jacob, I imagine, rejoiced at the sight of his beloved Rachel. When beholding his father Isaac, he must have been overcome with emotion. The same joyous reunion with loved ones, awaits all those who die in Christ.

No Fear in Death

Family reunions aren’t usually occasions that conjure up fear. They are typically filled with laughter, joy and happiness. Death for the Christian will be a time of sweet reunion. That is why the Christian ought not to fear death. Sure, there are still details about death, yet to be revealed. But the Bible comforts Christians with the sweet assurance that heaven is a joyous reunion. So, why fear? Trust the promises of God and be assured that death in Christ, means joy!

43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (ESV)

14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. (ESV)

Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (ESV)

11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (ESV)

33 When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people. (ESV)

Philip Duncanson
Philip Duncanson serves as an elder at East Point Church in Atlanta. Holler at him on Twitter: @PBDuncs

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