While preparing a funeral homily on Revelation 1.18 for a member of the church I serve, I ran across this amazing meditation by James Ramsey (d. 1871).
“The Living One has died. Oh, believers, could we only enter more fully into the meaning and the glorious and necessary results of that death on the cross, we should never again fear the powers of either death or hell. We should be ever singing even in tribulation, the new song, ‘Worthy [is] the Lamb that was slain;’ we would not find, so often as we do, our trembling spirits shrinking from the sweet strains of the apostle’s glad response to the gracious message of the kingdom, ‘Unto him that loved us and has washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God.’”
“The merits – the redeeming power of that death can be measured only by the infinite dignity of his person. It was because the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him, that the blood became a full satisfaction to the penalty of God’s law, and secured for his redeemed a full and eternal atonement.”
“‘I died,’ says the Living One, ‘I who had power to lay down my life and take it again, I came down from my own throne, I bear your sins in my own body on the tree, I suffered there as your substitute – then you cannot die. I died; then your sins are already atoned for, and forever gone, justice is perfectly satisfied, and unites with mercy in securing your salvation.’ God is reconciled, peace restored, all heavenly influences provided, and salvation made sure to every soul who trusts in his blood.”
Reminds me of what Vos said in his unforgettable sermon on John 20.16.
“What the Lord expects from us at such seasons [of sorrow] is not to abandon ourselves to unreasoning sorrow, but trustingly to look sorrow in the face, to scan its features, to search for the help and hope, which, as surely as God is our Father, must be there. In such trials there can be no comfort for us so long as we stand outside weeping. If only we will take the courage to fix our gaze deliberately upon the stern countenance of grief, and enter unafraid into the darkest recesses of our trouble, we shall find the terror gone, because the Lord has been there before us, and, coming out again, has left the place transfigured, making out of it by the grace of his resurrection a house of life, the very gate of heaven.
[Taken from Grace and Glory].
The only way we can face the darkness, sorrow, and unnaturalness of death is to belong – by faith – to the Warrior who has taken death’s sting away by conquering it and making it a doorway to heaven for everyone who trusts in him.