Like many old rural churches located in the southern United States, our church has a cemetery on our property. It really is a quiet and peaceful setting. So, why mention a cemetery during the Easter season? Well, a cemetery is a somber reminder that this life is finite. As Scripture reminds us, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,…” (Hebrews 9:27 ESV). As finite as this life is and as final as death in this life seems, we all will face judgment at some point after the end of this life… judgment from a Holy God. For me a cemetery is a good reminder of that and Easter.
Just this week, I took some time to meander through our cemetery. Being one that enjoys history, I found the different grave markers interesting and representative of many varied lives: individuals who were born as early as 1811, sadly, many graves of infants and young children, others with long years lived out on earth, some during the most conflicted times of our nation’s history. One marker gave evidence of a wife and mother, who had lived over 100 years! Even with all the interesting history and untold stories of people in our cemetery, I was struck by one constant thought… How many of those souls had been real believers and followers of Jesus Christ as the point of their physical death.
That is why I believe a cemetery is a great symbol for Easter. For Christians, the finality of a earthen grave, a marker, a stone, etc. are all temporary. Alas, the Christian believes that he will literally rise up from that grave upon the return of Jesus Christ. Scriptures calls it a resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16). This Sunday, Christians around the world will assemble in all types of settings to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ that actually took place in real time some 2,000 years ago. This is the foundation of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christians might as well go to a cemetery (or anywhere else) and “bark at the moon”. Paul expresses this a bit more eloquently in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. The historical and spiritual truth that Jesus Christ was crucified, dead, and buried, and on the third day rose up out of the grave is what separates Christianity from every other world religion. Our God and Savior is indeed alive! As the old hymn states, “He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus live today!”.
So, this Easter or any other time, when you pass a cemetery (maybe by an old rural church in the South), take time to ponder how temporary our “final resting place” is and how eternal is what follows our physical death. My prayer for each of you, who is a believer in Jesus Christ, is that you will truly CELEBRATE the great gift of eternal life that has been granted to you through the sacrifice of Christ. More importantly, for those of you reading this that don’t understand the significance of a cemetery and Easter, I pray God will awaken you to the truth of his Gospel and the resurrection of Jesus Christ so you too can celebrate. Maybe stop by an old rural church with a cemetery…I believe you would find many who would love to tell you about it.
For His Glory,