That They May Have Life

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:10-11

As I write this, the date is November 1 . . . the day we set aside in our church body as “All Saints Day”.  It’s a day on which we remember those who have died and gone before us to be in the presence of our Lord God through faith in Jesus.  It’s also a day on which we celebrate the lives they lived and the new life that is now their reality.

Today is All Saints Day!  Last night was Halloween. 

As we were trick-or-treating with our grandchildren, I found myself walking, most of the time, with the younger children – two little twin girls about 2 ½ years old.  As we walked through the neighborhood, I noticed something.  Our granddaughters found some of the homes attractive and inviting.  They loved the bright lights, the smiling jack-o-lanterns, and the cartoon-character blow-up decorations.  But there were other homes they didn’t like so well.  They didn’t much care for the fearsome ghosts, the red-eyed skeletons, and the headless manikin on the front porch.  Not yet 3-years-old, the girls understood something basic: death brings fear and living brings joy.

Death and grief come in many forms.  And none of us is a stranger to grief.  Some of us grieve the loss of loved ones.  Some of us have grieved other losses; a dream dashed, a job taken away, a relationship damaged or destroyed, a goal not reached, health compromised.  We all grieve.  We all struggle with death . . . because death is a thief!  It separates and destroys.

When Jesus visited the grave of his friend, Lazarus (John 11), he wept.  One wonders: why did Jesus weep?  Was it the human side of Jesus that caused Him to weep just as we weep when our loved ones die?  Was He overcome with the emotion as He saw others weeping?  Was it concern for the sisters of Lazarus who would now have to face life without their brother and provider?  Was it the God side of Jesus regretting that He was about to bring Lazarus back from a perfect heaven to live again on this damaged earth?  Why did Jesus weep?

It may have been any one of those things that caused Jesus to weep . . . or some combination. To be honest, I don’t know.  But I have another thought.  I wonder – truly wonder – if the tears Jesus wept were Godly tears.  I wonder if  – way back when – those same tears were shed in the Garden of Eden when man fell into sin and introduced death into the world.  I wonder if Jesus was thinking, “I didn’t create mankind to die.  I created human beings to live.   It broke my heart then and it breaks my heart now to see death create such pain, such separation, such despair.”

The fact is, God created us to live, not to die.  We were born to live!  The only person who was born for the express purpose to die was Jesus, Himself.  Through His death, the effects of sin were destroyed.  Through His resurrected life, death was defeated.  Jesus was born to die so we might live!

To be honest, I rather prefer All Saints Day over Halloween.  I suppose that’s because I prefer life over death and living over dying.

All praise and glory be to Jesus who came so we might have life . . . and have it abundantly forever with Him in heaven!  He has brought life out of death and changed mourning into singing!

Thinking about it, I think my granddaughters are on to something!

May the peace of God and the life He gives bring you comfort and joy!

Pastor Tim

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