Being a pastor means that sometimes families call you when a loved one is dying. I am glad they do. It is an important time for God’s Word to have a voice in the lives and the dying of people. If you have been present as someone lies dying, you probably know that dying can be a lot of work. It is hard. Humans are naturally filled with a desire for life, a desire which I have never heard a scientist adequately explain. But dying involves the forces of this world overcoming that desire and finally extinguishing that life. It can be a struggle for some people. I am glad that I can be there for them in their dying. More importantly, I am glad that through me and other Christians, Christ can be there in their dying.
Jesus makes a strong and wonderful promise to us in Gospel reading this week, a promise which is so basic we often forget to preach it. But it is terribly important to us, especially as we consider the struggle which we all have with this world, a struggle which eventually ends in our death. Jesus has overcome the world. Notice the tense of that verb. It is not that He will overcome the world. He has already done it. Our death, as real as it is, is also temporary. Jesus’ victory is an occasion for us to have peace.
As I have held the hands, prayed, and read Scripture with the dying and their families, I and they have also known peace despite that struggle. More than one old saint has told me of his or her longing to go home, to be at rest, to be done with this struggle. The natural body struggles against that death, but by faith we also have a peace with this. Jesus has overcome the world. Nothing can overcome Him, not even the grave.
He speaks plainly with us today. The disciples of Christ are glad. He speaks of God’s love for us in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We have peace and we take heart. He has conquered the world.