Jesus said to her, "Your brother (Lazarus) will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." John 11:23-27
Douglas Legler of Fargo, North Dakota, had a sense of humor.
When he read the obituaries of others in the local paper, he couldn't stop himself from offering up a chuckle and a dry-humored observation. If the paper said someone had been "president of this" or a "director of that," Doug would ask those around him, "What was his problem? Couldn't he keep a job?"
Having had so much fun commenting on the passing of others, Legler often repeated that when he passed away, he wanted his obituary to be limited to two words. Those two words were
A few weeks ago, 85-year-old Legler passed away. Honoring his wishes, the family published his notice just as he requested. The obituary in the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead told their readership: "Doug Died." A 364-word explanation given elsewhere explained the reason for the announcement's brevity.
Unless the Lord Jesus comes back to judge this world in the immediate future, a similar obituary will someday be written about our death.
It is my hope that all of us who are blessed to have Jesus as Savior would add just a few words to "So-and-so Died."
A number of suggestions come to mind: "So-and-so's body has died. His soul lives with Jesus." Or "Death claimed So-and-so's body; Jesus has kept hold on his soul." Or "Because of Jesus, So-and-so says, 'See you soon.'"
No doubt about it, death is coming.
That can be a frightening thing, but if Jesus is with us already, well, that makes things different. Of course, you don't have to take my word for it, ask Martha. Her brother Lazarus had died. She and her sister were in mourning.
Then Jesus showed up. Jesus showed up and transformed their time of sorrow into a celebration of death's defeat. As the Savor said to Martha, and to us, "Whoever believes in Me, even though he dies, yet because of Me he will live." It is the Savior's reassurance that His completed work has defeated death and gives us the victory.
So, what do you think of "DIED? NOT REALLY!" for a tombstone?
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, for death's defeat, I give thanks to the Savior. For Your grace and Holy Spirit-given faith, I rejoice. When my time comes, may those around me know -- as I know -- that because of Jesus our separation is temporary. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries