Comfort One Another With These Words
Jesus was beaten and then crucified. He died a horrible death but after three days in the grave, He arose victoriously. Acts 1:3 NIV, says, “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” He appeared first to Mary Magdalene (Mk. 16:9). He appeared to two men on their way to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13). He appeared to the disciples while they were hiding for fear (Jn. 20:19). Eight days later, He appears to them again (Jn. 20:26). He appears to them from the shore while they were fishing (Jn. 21:1,4). Jesus would be present one minute, then gone the next. We finally see Jesus in Acts 1:9-11. He ascends into the heavens, and an angel says to them, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” The disciples thought that Jesus would be right back. “They tarried in Jerusalem as Jesus requested and ten days later were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). Peter preached and 3,000 people believed upon Jesus as Lord. Later, 5,000 more became believers. The early church began to grow as the Word was preached.
Week, months, and years began to go by, and Jesus had not yet appeared to them as they had expected. They became discouraged. Their family members and friends passed away. Paul writes, “…comfort one another with these words” (1 Thes. 4:18). What were the Words that he spoke by the Holy Spirit? He began to tell them that they should not be “ignorant concerning them which are asleep” (who have died), “that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope” (v.13). Paul exhorts that we will see them again. “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (the rapture) together with them (Jesus and the ones who died in Christ) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (v.17). That is the comfort that we have in the passing of those we love. If they died having received Jesus as their personal Savior, they are with Him, and we as believers in Christ, will be reunited with them. Amen!
Paul references the dead as “them which are asleep.” The word is koimaomai, which means those that are “lying asleep; to go to bed.” The body sleeps until it is reunited with the soul. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor.5:8). When one dies in Christ, his/her spirit man goes to be with Jesus. The joining of the soul (or their spirit) with the body takes place at the rapture (1 Thes. 4:16). So, the person who lies in the grave is only sleeping. The body will wake up, raise up, and ascend when Jesus “shouts, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God” (v.16).
Another word for “asleep” in these passages in koimeterion; where we get the word “cemetery”. It is the same word “inn” as used when Joseph took Mary to the inn. If you will, we are putting our deceased loved ones up for the night. The cemetery is only an inn; a place to stay for a short time. Just as a night’s sleep can feel like a moment, so is the sleep of those who have gone to be with the Lord. Church, Jesus is coming. We will be reunited with those who departed this life in Him. Amen!