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1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him …

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (verses 13-14, 16)


Over the last two months, I’ve been to several funerals. Many more than I expected. Most were for people much older than me, but one was for someone younger. Somewhat sobering.

Yet, though these could have been very somber events, they were in fact filled with hope. Why? Simply because each of the deceased had been a committed follower of Jesus. Their lives, through many years, had been filled with hope. So, too, were their funerals.

Stories emerged about milestone events and experiences. It was obvious that each knew Jesus deeply and had walked with him closely. Oh, there had been difficult moments for each one, sometimes filled with profound struggle, but joy undergirded the whole. Amid ups and downs, it was clear they had a deep awareness of the Lord’s presence and care. There was no question that each had been sustained for a lifetime.

But it wasn’t only for life. It was also for death. The overwhelming assurance, overflowing from the scriptures and impacting all of us present, was that these individuals were kept safe – still – in the Lord Jesus Christ. Absolutely.

It is likely that the newly-converted Thessalonians, to whom Paul is writing, hadn’t yet apprehended these truths fully. Paul had only been with them briefly before hostilities had arisen in Thessalonica, forcing his departure. Clearly, he had taught these new believers many things, including the certainty of Christ’s second coming, a truth which had captured their attention. But they were somewhat fuzzy on the details.

It seems likely their conviction of Jesus’ return had settled into an expectation that it would be very soon, in fact so soon that they weren’t prepared for any of their number to die before it actually came about. But some had indeed died, and the believers were thrown for a loop. Their hope, such as they understood it, wasn’t able to sustain them in the midst of such grief.

So, Paul clarifies the issues. Christ died – yes. Christ rose again – amen. So, also, will Jesus certainly return. These truths, anchored in Jesus, anchor our faith. They are not impacted by what happens in our own lives – neither tribulation nor distress nor persecution nor famine nor death itself will be able to alter the reality of Christ’s work and its accomplishments for us. Those who “sleep in death” have not slipped beyond the reach of Christ’s second coming. Not at all. Indeed, those who die before that glorious event, will in fact be the more fully embraced in its glory – they will rise first, before those “who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord” (verse 15).

So, the funerals of my friends were bang on! Hope rang true. It reverberated through their lifetimes and surely endures now in their deaths. “With the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God,” they will certainly rise “in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

There is no need to grieve like the rest of mankind. No. Instead, we stand confidently in the certainty of Jesus, who died, who rose, and who is coming again. Oh, such hope.


Lord Jesus, thank you for what you have accomplished for me through your death and resurrection. Thank you for what you will accomplish when you come again. I cling to this hope. All is anchored in you. Praise your name.


Reflect: Christ died. Christ rose. Christ will come again. Each statement carries its own hope. Take several moments to soak in each. Remind yourself throughout the day.


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