Funeral Lessons

A photo of a gravesite funeral from John Ed Mathison's blog "Funeral Lessons"


Funerals are an important part of a Pastor’s ministry. I have officiated at over 1,000 funerals. Funerals can be very unique. Let me share three stories about funerals that occurred in October 2019.

Shay Bradley, an Irishman, died and his friends came to a graveside funeral. Just as the coffin was being lowered into the grave, they were shocked to hear the sound of knocking from inside the casket and the voice of Shay calling out, “Let me out!  It’s dark in here!” You can imagine the shock on the faces of the people. Then people started laughing because they realized that the deceased, Shay Bradley, had recorded the prank before he died. He wanted to play a trick on everybody at the funeral. 

Maybe a funeral is an okay place for a prank, but be sure you’re not pranked about the meaning of death and eternal life. God doesn’t play pranks about the resurrection. His invitation is clear. Death is real. Eternal life with Him is more real. Because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, God gives an open invitation to everyone to live with Him forever—no pranks! (Read John 11:23-26.)

Mike Henry, a very popular and appreciated young man in Montgomery, died from cancer in his 50s. His funeral was held at Landmark Church of Christ. The building was overflowing with people. The casket containing the body of Mike Henry was present for the visitation the night before the funeral and for an hour prior to the funeral.

When my good friend, Reverend Buddy Bell, began the funeral service, people noticed that the casket was not in place. Buddy announced that this was going to be a unique funeral. He said that Mike was always running late. His friends even suggested that he would be late for his own funeral. So, Mike requested that the service begin, and then let them bring in his body after the service started. About 5 minutes into the service, the funeral director appeared at the back of the Worship Center and asked the congregation to rise. They then rolled Mike’s body in. He was late for his own funeral!

But Mike was a strong believer. He might have been late for his funeral but he was not late for his resurrection. He was right on time to meet Jesus! Regardless of what kind of funeral you have, the most important part is not the funeral, but the resurrection. Paul declares that God has given us the victory through Jesus Christ. The resurrection is a victory celebration. (Read 1 Cor. 15:55-57.)

A Pastor was conducting a graveside funeral. He was talking about the resurrection and the assurance that God can give us. Suddenly someone’s iPhone engaged very loudly, and everyone could hear Siri saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what you just said.”

In case you didn’t understand what I’ve said, I want to say it again. Death happens to each of us. We won’t know anything about our own funeral. We will know everything about what happens to us after we die. The resurrection is a possibility for every person who confesses and follows Jesus! 

The funeral won’t last long, but eternity is forever and ever and ever.

Jesus never attended funerals—only resurrections!

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