No event in my life has proven to be of more lasting significance than my funeral. I remember it well. The church, the pastor, my family, but especially the grave. Some say that I should live like I'm dying, as if that's the secret to a happy life. But that won't do for me. I will not, I cannot, live like I'm dying because I've already died. I've had my funeral.
I was young, but no so young that I can't recall the particulars. I was robed in white, like the martyrs. There were steps going down, down into the grave. It was wet, the water in the tomb cold as it slowly enveloped my body. The pastor put a hand over my mouth, another between my shoulder blades, and backward I fell into the dark waters, buried beneath Noah's flood, the Red Sea, Jordan's stream, all the way down into a borrowed tomb outside Jerusalem where a crucified man lay waiting for me. I opened my eyes under the water and beheld him. He was reaching for me. He took my hand.
He spoke, "Chad, do you know where you are?" I said, "Sir, you know." And he smiled as no man has ever smiled. Then he said to me, "Arise."
The surface of the grave exploded. Water rippling like an earthquake around me. Angels winged their way around the sanctuary, belting out Alleluias. Smoke was filling the church from the incense of the saints. God above was splitting the veil twixt heaven and earth to say, "This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased."
I opened my eyes to a funeral gone bad. Or rather, gone good. For I had died, been buried, and now stood alive for the first time in my life on the Easter side of Good Friday, wearing the skin of God's Son, feeling the beat of his blood pumping in my heart, the breath of his Spirit in my lungs. I was a living man. I was past death. I was now in Christ.
Since my watery funeral, when I died to sin and rose in Christ, I do not live like I'm dying. I live as one who has already died and whose life is hidden with Christ in God.
What is baptism? It is this.
If you enjoyed this reflection, please take a moment to check out my new book, Christ Alone: Meditations and Sermons. This is not a collection of feel-good, saccharine devotional material. It’s hard-hitting, Gospel-giving, Christ-focused writing that takes you to the cross of Jesus again and again as the only source of healing for us. Purchase your copy by clicking on CreateSpace or Amazon. And thank you!
The poems and hymns in my book, The Infant Priest, give voice to the triumphs and tragedies of life in a broken world. Here there is praise of the crucified and risen Christ, dark lamentation of a penitent wrestling with despair, meditations upon the life of our Lord, thanksgiving for family, and much more. If you’d like to purchase a copy, you may do so at this website or on Amazon.com. Thank you!