1 Thessalonians 4:13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again… through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
The apostle Paul is writing here to encourage the believers in Thessalonica. Apparently, the secular culture of the day did not believe in a resurrection of the dead. As such, death meant… death. There was nothing after it. When a loved one was lost, they were lost forever.
Have you ever lost a loved one? I’m guessing you have. Two people I think about all the time are my maternal grandparents. I spent a good amount of time with them as a child and have many fond memories of them. In fact, I’m reminded of my grandfather Richard all the time because the older I get the more I look like him. 🙂
My grandparents died within a couple of years of one another and I remember well the grief of laying them to rest. Yet I’m sure that grief pales in comparison to the pain many of you have of people even closer to you – spouses, children, sisters/brothers, and so on. It’s incredibly hard to lose someone close.
Today’s passage, however, reminds us of the promise of the resurrection. For those who are in Christ Jesus, the end of mortal life is not… the end. For the day will come when Jesus returns, the dead will be raised to new life, and the living will join them in eternity.
We will see our loved ones again. Praise be to God.
Lord Jesus, today we remember those who have preceded us in death. We miss them, Lord, very much. Yet today we also remember that, through your resurrection from the dead, you conquered death forever. Death no longer has the last word but, by your grace, eternal life has been given to all who believe in you. Console those of us who mourn this day. We ask this in your precious name. Amen.