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WHY SHOULD CHRISTIANS BURY THE DEAD? (II)

SEP 14

John 11:1-26
Memorise 1 Corinthians 15:51-57
“Our friend Lazarus sleepeth”

WHY SHOULD CHRISTIANS BURY THE DEAD? (II)

The Bible teaches that a human being consists of two parts: (1) the body and (2) the spirit. These two parts are not only distinguishable but also separable (Genesis 3:19, Luke 23:43, 46, Ecclessiastes 12:7). Both the spirit and the body are important. The spirit is that part of man that relates to God (John 4:24, Romans 8:16) while the body is that part which allows man to subsist on earth. For Christians, the body is also the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Although at death, the spirit will be separated from the body, both will be rejoined at the time of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:44). When a believer dies, he is said to be sleeping (1 Corinthians 15:51). When a person sleeps, he expects to wake up. This awakening will happen when Christ returns. So the body is an important part of man and must be treated carefully even at death.

The Jews understood the doctrine of the resurrection and of the body (cf John 11:24). That was why they treated the body of their departed loved ones with great care. Consider the following Jewish burial procedure:

1. Eyes of deceased closed by eldest son or next-of-kin (Genesis 46:4).
2. Body washed (Acts 9:37).
3. Body anointed with aromatic spices (John 12:7, 19:39, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1).
4. Body wrapped in cloth (Matthew 27:59, John 11:44, 19:40).
5. Body not to be mutilated (Leviticus 19:27-28, 21:5,Deuteronomy 14:1).
6. Body carried to a tomb on a wooden bier (2 Samuel 3:31).
7. Body is finally placed in a simple grave, cave, or rock-cut tomb (Luke 23:53).

The Church kept to the Jewish and biblical practice of burial. Dr Davis noted that “the early church practiced inhumation and rigorously opposed cremation. Prompt burials followed death and a special memorial service was conducted the third day following the believer’s death. The choice of the third day was a means of reaffirming belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the ultimate resurrection of all believers. … The overwhelming consensus of early church writers and leaders was that cremation was associated with rites that were incompatible with many basic tenets of their faith.”

Thought: Burning is a symbol of God’s judgment and curse.
Prayer: Lord, I want my funeral to be a picture of heaven and not hell.