Several years ago we served as church planters in northern Illinois. Once I was ask to conduct the funeral of a still born baby. The family was Catholic, but we had become very good friends, and I said, of course, I would be willing to do the service.
The funeral was to be held in a very large Catholic cemetery in Chicago. I think the family had to get special permission from the Chicago Catholic Arch Dies es to allow a non-Catholic to lead a service there.
We met in a small, yet beautiful, building for the service. I was able to encourage the mother and the family that the child was in heaven with our heavenly father. The family appreciated the short, small, but appropriate service.
After we left the meeting place, a strange thing happened. We got lost in the cemetery. No, I’m not kidding. The cemetery was so large it had streets with street names. It was so huge I could not remember how to get out. As I recall, it was a rather eerie feeling to be lost in a cemetery. I am not sure, but some of the street signs must have included; Cadaver Lane, Skeleton Ave., Rigamortis Boulevard, and Grave Road. I think there must have been one road that had a sign, “Dead End.” But then it has been a while, and my mind does play tricks on me. Well we did find our way out after driving around a while. Or should I say driving in “squares” and “rectangles” since the streets were at right angles.
But, believe it or not, there is a By The Way application to all this. As believers, we are traveling through this life sometimes forgetting that death is all about us. Paul addressed the Christians at Ephesus as "once dead" people.
Here is Paul’s statement in Ephesus 2: 1As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (NIV)
As believers we know that we will get through this cemetery of life and death. When we were lost without Christ we resided in the cemetery. But there is always hope where Christ is concerned. We believe in a resurrection. Now, I am not speaking of that future resurrection every child of God is promised when we get a new body. I speak of a present resurrection. Jesus had an interesting exchange with Martha in John 11.
John 11:17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
24Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
27"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." (NIV)
Notice verse 25. Jesus said that He was (present tense) the resurrection. When a spiritually dead person is saved they experience a spiritual resurrection. And that should be our concern while we walk with the Lord to that heavenly city. We need to walk through life’s graveyards. If we only choose to live and walk among those who are already alive, we cannot fulfill our calling as believers. We have the good news that can bring life to those who are dead. Do not feel that we are lost in a graveyard, but we are working in a spiritual graveyard. The road we walk to heaven needs to go through as many cemeteries as possible.
In John 4 we have an interesting story about Jesus leading the disciples from Judea to Galilee. Notice in John 4:3…He (Jesus) left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. 4 Now he had to go through Samaria.
His having to go through Samaria was not a geographical necessity, but a spiritual necessity. Most Jews, in order to avoid the despised Samaritans, crossed over the Jordan and went north on the east side avoiding Samaria all together. Then they crossed back over the Jordan into Galilee. But Jesus said he had to go through Samaria. Why?: Because there was a cemetery full of dead folks, beginning with a woman at Jacobs well, and concluding with a sizable group from the city of Sychar. He had to bring life to some dead folks on his way to Galilee.
Are we bringing the story of life to the cemeteries of spiritual dead folks as we travel the road to our heavenly city?
THOT: WHEN YOU REALIZE YOU ARE LOST IN A CEMETERY JUST REMEMBER THE ONE WHO HAS POWER OVER DEATH AND LIFE