We have been programmed to celebrate birth days. The trouble is we have been mis-taught so much about ‘birth’ and about ‘death’.
Matthew 24:19 (KJV)
And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
The Bible shows here that bringing a child into this sinful world, into this place of pain and suffering is not something in the last days that is more than a ‘woe’. This world is full of sin, it has suffering and trials. The devil is out to hurt us if he can. No, I am not against births. I love children and am proud of my children. Yet, I have watched them suffer too. I have travailed often for and with them in trials and problems. This world is not an eternal amusement park of cotton candy and clowns to make one laugh.
The mothers of this world know ‘birth-days’ to be days of great pain, struggle and concern. The final pain of birth is a relief, but still concern is there, as the child is examined to be sure the child is free of defects. This child that the mother is relieved is finally not causing great pain and struggle as it has already for much of nine months, is now going to be a concern to watch over, to try to protect from the sins and from the curse upon this world.
Yet, every year following one of those ‘birth-days’, we gather and acknowledge with joy the ‘birth’ commemoration. And when death finally does come, we MOURN the death day. Still, the Lord, and His Word, show a different attitude toward ‘death’.
Psalm 116:15 (KJV)
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
What is a "saint"? We have heard certain religious bodies use that word for some few, special, beloved Christians who few could claim to have equaled in works, St. John, St. Peter, etc.
Yet, the Greek word is "nagios" meaning "a holy one". It is used in the Bible to refer to all Christians. When we accepted Jesus as our Savior, the Lord took away all our sins, and we became "new creations" in Christ Jesus. Our sins were forgiven by God, and when God looks at a forgiven Christian, He sees "a saint."
The Lord looks upon this body, lying in the casket, differently than do we. He sees the empty shell of the person, but the real person has departed this body, and gone on to be with the Lord Jesus Who forgave his sins, and made him a true saint.
The Lord is in heaven with the beloved saint. To the Lord, the death of the ‘saint’ was "precious" and wonderful. The homecoming of the saint is very "precious" to the Lord!
We have been programmed in this world to not feel so joyful, when we attend a funeral! We are in sorrow and grief, but the Lord has the Word of God describe His feelings as "precious" (Hebrew = yaqar, valuable, rare).
In the death of a saint, the Lord is on the receiving end of the event, and we are on the losing side. The presence of the saint has been acquired by the Lord, but the same presence has been given by we who are left behind. The Lord acquires a loved one to His heavenly abode, and we must relinquish the same loved one from their earthly sojourn with us... Therefore, we have been trained to sorrow in the loss, and the Lord rejoices in the gain. We miss their presence, but the Lord welcomes them home.
Death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body. At death, we see the body of the beloved saint, but the real person, the soul and the spirit of the saint, is no longer in our midst, but is safely in the presence of the Lord. The Lord and His angels are rejoicing with the saint.
THE OPINION OF THE SAINT ON THEIR DEPARTURE!
2 Corinthians 5:6-9 NKJV
So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
The departed saint is "well pleased" for they are with Jesus and saints gone ahead. Yet, we down here, grieve, miss, sorrow, and await.
In the presence of the Lord, there is no more struggle, no more pain, no more laboring to walk. The departed saint can jump, shout, and run as never before. The struggles, pain, and work is over.
When we accepted the Lord as our Savior, our soul and spirit were given at that moment, eternal life. We call that ‘born again’, and we should celebrate that day. The original ‘body birth’ day brought us into a world of pain and sin. The ‘born again day’ brought us into a time of hope and promise.
When death (the separation of the body from our soul and spirit) occurs, the body ceases to function. The real person, i.e. the spirit and soul, departs to be with Jesus, and still exists, and is "well pleased" to be with the Lord.
THE VIEW POINT OF THE SAINTS STILL REMAINING HERE!
There is in the Christian faith, a certainty of knowing that someday, i.e. resurrection day, our body will be revived to new life, and we will have an eternal body, like unto the Lord's body after His resurrection.
Romans 8:22-23 NKJV
For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Till our own death or until resurrection day, we must "eagerly" await reunion with the Lord and with our loved ones who have gone before. We are to be ‘eagerly awaiting’ the death or rapture moment that takes us to our heavenly home. We will walk streets of gold, talks with the saints of old, and not be walking streets of asphalt and cement.
The Lord is happily rejoicing in our deaths, yet we sorrow at someone’s departure. We, as saints, must learn to see things how our Lord sees the same events. We should grasp hold of the faith that assures us, that we too someday will be with our Lord, Who eagerly desires us to come home to Him.
The Lord desires for us to "eagerly" await the day we depart to be with Jesus. This life here is a race, a contest. We have three score and ten years, and a bit more, but soon will be with the Lord Jesus, and see this life as a difficult contest finally finished.
St. Paul sat in a lonely cell writing his last letter to Timothy before they came to take him to his execution. Shortly before his beheading, Paul the apostle wrote:
2 Timothy 4:6-8 NKJV
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
When someone down here on earth finishes a race as the winner, we applaud, we joy for them. When your favorite team wins its football game, we cheer, and applaud.
THE DEATH OF OUR LORD JESUS
1 Corinthians 11:24-31 (KJV)
24 And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.
25 After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come.
27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
The word ‘shew’, as in ‘shew the Lord’s death’, is the Greek word katangello meaning to ‘declare, proclaim’ and has the idea of rejoicing in. We are to rejoice in the death of Jesus. We celebrate His death every communion service.
We celebrate the moment He conquered death for us, making death now to be for us, an entrance into the heavenly realm we have been promised. We know we shall depart this frail, human, weak, cursed, body at death, and there be able to live eternally without pain and suffering of body, with our Lord. Jesus death is the supreme death that won that for us.
The crucifixion was a solemn event. It was great sacrifice for Jesus to suffer the horrible pain, the taunting and mockings, the whipping, the slow loss of blood till His body had no more. Yet, He endured that time, to bring us a possibility of us having a death that is a rejoicing time.
The death of a saint is not a calamity, for the trials are over and reward begins. The death of a saint is not a disaster, it is a victory. The death of a saint is an event that is in harmony with the Divine will of God. It is not a ‘fatal’ event, for the saint still lives.
What the natural person sees as evil, we can see as good. When saints die, it is not frustrating the will of God, but it is the entrance into a new mission.
Jesus came to this earth with the purpose of dying. He called that event ‘His hour’. He came with that intention. His death on the cross, His taking that pain for us, His giving up the human life He had assumed was the reason He came. He came as the ‘Lamb of God Who taketh away the sin of the world.’ John the Baptist announced Jesus with those words.
The death of Jesus is a monument. We wear a cross proudly, for it was on that cross of Jesus that our future with God was secured. We, at communion, break bread, drink grape juice, in remembrance of Jesus death. We rejoice in that sacrifice on the cross.
The birth into this world is a momentous event, but if it had not been for Jesus death on the cross, our lives would be only of sorrow and foreboding.
The death of Jesus makes our ‘birth’ to have a purpose, and a possibility of redemption so that our death can be a real rejoicing moment. When we exit this body we got at birth, we, the saints, can rejoice at death. The spirit that leaves the body of a saint, enters into an eternity of rejoicing because of the death of Jesus on the cross.
Should we rejoice only at the death of Jesus? Certainly, now, all that are ‘in Christ’, are Christians, are ‘saints’ can rejoice as we leave this mortal body, and enter into victory.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (KJV)
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
WE SHARE THE BENEFIT OF JESUS’ DEATH ON THE CROSS
1 Corinthians 11:23-25 (KJV)
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.
There is great benefit to us in the death of Jesus. What is the benefit of our lives? Have we done the work for the Lord that we were sent here to do?
Will others think ‘in remembrance’ of us, of any good and worthwhile purpose we had in our earthly time? This is part of communion, to see things in ‘remembrance of Jesus’, but to also ‘examine ourselves’.
1 Corinthians 11:28-31 (KJV)
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
Communion is a time to ‘examine’ and be sure our earthly life is a fulfilling of the reason God saved us. Are we intercessors? Are we witnesses? Are we studying the Word, looking for ways to serve the Lord as He desires? Are we repentant of our failures? Are we walking in Christian love? These and many more questions need answered as we celebrate the death of Jesus.
Jesus’ death completed the old covenant, and revealed a new one. Our death completes our testing time, and takes us into our reward time. We celebrate Jesus’ death with a thank you cup of grape juice, and a piece of unleavened bread. This commemorates with joy the blood Jesus shed for us, and the broken sinless body that was sacrificed for our sins. His body was mistreated for us. We take up our crosses and expect we too, in this human life, to be mistreated. We proudly share the message of Jesus and receive mistreatment too. Without His death, would be no remission for our many failures and sins. In our death, we pass from a time wherein we often failed, into a time of being sinless and holy, rejoicing with our Perfect Lord Who paid the price that our death can be a rejoicing time.
Romans 8:10-25 (KJV)
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
We, with patience’ await this death that takes us into the realm of victory with Jesus. We know it will be a ‘glorious’ event, for the Lord has planned our lives to come to death as the culmination, the graduation, the manifestation of His glorious plan.
HOW IMPORTANT IS COMMUNION?
It is a great time when we take communion. During this passion week, in fact, right now, I recommend that you get a ‘cracker’ and some grape juice. Examine yourself, make yourself right with God, repent of your failures, resolve to live better for Him, thank Him for His sacrifice on the cross, and take communion as you think on Him.
Don’t minimize communion. Don’t ignore it. Some seldom take it, some let it be a ritual. Communion can be done at any time, any where, with or without a crowd. When you take it, you are rejoicing in the death of Jesus, and rejoicing that someday, your ‘death day’ or ‘rapture day’ will take you into the new covenant victories.
Some partake of communion ‘unworthily’. The word ‘unworthily’ is the Greek word ‘anaxious’ meaning ‘irreverently, unfit’.
There is punishment for taking communion without the reverence it should be given. We can bear the guilt of those who put Jesus on the cross, if we minimize the vital importance of His death. We think with love of the willing sacrifice that Jesus gave on the cross. We must be thankful that this was an undeserved, unearned gift for us.
I Corinthians 11:30
“For this reason, many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”
It is vital to be reverent to what Jesus did for us on the cross. We should think and remember how hard it was for Him to die for us, so that we could have a rejoicing time at our death.
The bread represents His body that suffered. The drink represents the blood that He shed for us.
1 Corinthians 11:28 (KJV)
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
The word ‘examine’ is the Greek word ‘dokimatzeto’ and refers to something that was put to a test by fire. The fire of conviction, the fire of repentance can cleanse our persons of things we are not spiritually proud of. We need to ‘judge ourselves’, so that those things we can now repent of, need never be mentioned in heaven, when we die and meet Him.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32 (KJV)
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
Allowing the Lord to ‘chasten’ us now, makes our death time so much more joyous. We need not sit with the Lord and let Him chasten us on that first day in heaven, if our faults and failures have already been dealt with in a self examination at a time of communion prior to our death.
1 Corinthians 11:24 (KJV)
And when he had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.
Jesus wants us to do this ‘in remembrance’ of Him. We remember what He did, how He lived, why He died, remembering, for it will change us, if we do.
Jesus was a man of humility.
Psalm 113:6 (KJV)
Who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!
Jesus was forgiving, though rejected and mistreated. He ‘came to His own, and His own received Him not.’ He knew that most would reject Him, and His work on the cross, but He came, even if it would only have been you, or me, that did accept Him, He still would have come.
Communion time is a feast of testimony. We do this to ‘show’, to declare, to reveal before others, happily, that Jesus did a great work.
1 Corinthians 11:26 (KJV)
For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He come.
We are waiting still for the ‘till He come’ part. We are to keep rejoicing in His death, till we grasp His nail scarred hands in heaven. We celebrate His death, and anticipate our own death time, ‘TILL HE COME.’