“Here lies the greatest of all sinners”

I hate funerals. My insides grind together when I attend them. There’s nothing worse than watching a parent mourn a child. Or a spouse and children mourn a father. Even before I knew what it was some thing inside of me just knew that dying wasn’t right. Things weren’t the way they should be. I go to the funerals still to mourn with those who are mourning and to support and love friends and family when the time arises. I think I understand the tension Jesus feels in John 11 at the tomb of Lazarus. He’s sorrowful, angry, and yet hopeful as well. He attends to comfort friends and love them well.

I’ve attended a handful of funerals where the ceremony was more like a hagiography expounding all the good things about the person who died. It’s all joy and celebration. I understand that desire. In one way, we do want to celebrate the loved one we lost but that approach seems to remove the tension from death. In John 11, Jesus weeps and bellows in anger as death takes his friend--even though he’s going to resurrect him. Aptly Carl F. Ellis Jr. says, “As followers of Christ, we look forward to ‘the sweet by and by,’ but we must wisely apply God’s Word in the nasty now and now” (Aliens in the Promised Land p. 140).

I hope when I die my family remembers the love we shared, the memories we built, and the good we did as a family, but most of all I hope they remember their father was a great sinner who had an even greater Savior. I hope they are honest about my short coming as they stand to eulogize me and point those present to the Savior who turned a wretched sinner into a co-heir with Christ.

I’m trying to burn that truth on my family’s heart now.

“I’m not the hero, but I know Him.”

“Daddy’s a sinner who repents daily of his sin, you repent as well.”

“I love you so much, but I’m gonna let you down some time. God never lets you down. Put all your trust in him.”

I hope when I die, they etch on my grave, “Here lies the greatest of all sinners friend of the greatest of all Saviors.”