I’ve led or taken part in quite a few funerals. Recently we said goodbye to my mum and laid to rest her mortal remains. At the graveside, as the coffin is lowered, it is normal to read out these words or similar.
“In that the Lord has chosen to take [name] to himself, we now commit their body to the ground, dust to dust, ashes to ashes, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection.”
Those last words are crucial, and I try to say them a little louder, placing the emphasis there. It’s what we need to hear and it’s what we can say with confidence as believers in Jesus.
Today is Easter Sunday and we look back to the moment when the women went to the tomb where he had been buried, only to find it empty with the stone moved. The body was gone but it hadn’t been stolen something supernatural had happened. Throughout the day, Jesus appeared to the women and his disciples but not as a ghost. He talked with them and ate with them. This wasn’t just an appearance, he was physically present with them.
Looking back to that first resurrection enables us to look forward with hope. I know that my mum is “absent from the body … present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). It is only her physical remains that are in that grave, mum herself is with Jesus. However, I look forward to the day when not just mum but all who have put their trust in Jesus will be raised to eternal life with him. This will be a physical, bodily resurrection.
Today is resurrection day. Because Jesus lives, we know that he intercedes in heaven for us. We know that he has sent the Holy Spirit so that God is present with us. We know that we will one day be with him forever.
We live “in sure and certain hope of the resurrection.”