These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. (John 11:11-13)
Death For The Christian Is Only Sleep
There is no joy in death. It robs the world of a precious life that had vitality, vigor and a voice that brought joy and happiness to others. An unwelcome guest, death has always left behind broken hearts in its wake. When Satan deceived the woman in the garden, he brought the penalty of death upon all men. God created man as a mortal being and a consequence of sin is death. All men die and will die and while the knowledge of death is real it never takes away the deep sorrow that accompanies it. Death has no borders. It invades the lives of the rich and poor regardless of nationality. The old must die and they young can die. What hope is there for man when he faces death?
Jesus came into the world to bring man back to the paradise of Eden where death had no power. Before the fall of man, there was joy and contentment as man walked in the presence of his creator. No shame filled the heart and no tears flowed from sorrow. Death changed all that. The coming of the Son of God was to show man the incredible love of the Father who lovingly gave His Son to experience death so that man could face death with hope. Every generation passed through time by the river of death and that was final. Christ suffered at the hands of men and was killed as He experienced the sting of death. What made His death powerful was a story that happened early in His ministry that pointed to the glory to be revealed in the death of Jesus.
Lazarus was a dear friend of Jesus. Receiving news that His friend was sick, Jesus delayed a few days before making the journey. Before He could arrive at the home of Lazarus, the sad news came that he had died. There was a certain air of disparity as some thought Jesus could have prevented the death of Lazarus. As always, God had a much bigger plan. Hearing Lazarus had died, the disciples were very sad. Jesus looked at the death of Lazarus as an opportunity to show the promise of His Father and a message to all generations that death is not to be feared. Believing in God and the hope of heaven gives men a hope that transcends the sadness of death. Jesus said that death is only a sleep. There are three things characteristic of sleep: it is expressive of rest, refreshment and implies expectation of awakening. Jesus said that death is only a rest and it serves as a sense of refreshment for the soul. The most important part of death is the reality that life comes after death.
Lazarus had died and that was reality. The hope Jesus brings to all men is that in death there is the knowledge of the resurrection. Jesus went to Lazarus and raised him from the dead. You and I will die but there is the knowledge that in death we will find rest and the promise of the resurrection. We will live again. Our loved ones who have died will live again. This is a promise given to all those who die in the Lord. Outside of Christ there is no hope. Death is only a sleep. Thank God for the joy of the resurrection.