I’m having what they call a “birthday” this coming week. For me, each birthday brings about memories of the year just experienced, anticipates a new and hopefully better year, and involves celebrating with loved ones. Birthdays are much different than funerals. I think most people would say they would rather go to a bad birthday party than a good funeral any day. Each funeral brings about a recollection of old memories, giving up hopes of future memories, and involves mourning with loved ones. With good reason we rarely find ourselves celebrating at a funeral. But with good reason, as a believer we should see our funerals to be more greatly anticipated than our birthdays. It is a strange but not unfamiliar concept in Scripture.
Ecclesiastes 7:1 proposes that, “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.” A child just born has made no lasting stamp upon the world and no reputation has yet been established, but death solidifies the reputation developed during the life. On the day of birth a child enters into a world full of sin, strife, and pain, but the day of the Christian’s death we are ushered into holiness, peace, and joy found in our Redeemer. Because we bear the name of Jesus, a name better than precious ointment that will be remembered and even exalted in death (1 Peter 4:16), we can gladly join in and say that the day of our death will be a glorious one indeed.
Christ has gone through and defeated the power of death for us, so that we have nothing to fear. We will face death like Jarius’ daughter, who died and though all around her thought all had ended, Christ came to her not in a rush of fear that death was overpowering, but because he had power over death, in His perfect time He took her by the hand and raised her up to new life.(Mark 5:35-43). Psalm 116:15 says “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints,” if death is so precious to the Lord, how precious should it be to us as well?
Paul affirms this view of death, saying “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21). How could death be gain? A man loses his life, his family and friends, his work, his home and his earthly possessions when he passess away. How deceived we are, for the death of a believer is far from the hideous shrieking death those who are unregenerate face. The death of the Christian is a most beautiful fate! He gains everlasting, renewed, abundant life, he wears a golden crown and walks on streets of gold, he sees and dwells with his Savior, and has gone from a foggy mirror to face-to-face. In death, a life once wrought with sin will be wrapped in Christ’s holiness.
His victory has become our victory and we partake in His resurrection so that on the day of our death we will not fear, for Christ has gone before us even in death and will gently draw us to him (1 Corinthians 15:53-56). Yes, birthdays are joyous occasions, but even more joyous is the day of the believer’s death, for then Christ will take them by the hand and never forsake them even through the grave, for the death that once brought fear serves now to be our advantage for then we will see Christ face to face (Hebrews 2:14-15). -M.
1 Corinthians 15:54-55, “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”