Jesus conquered the enemy we would never be able to conquer on our own through his resurrection from the dead. Because Jesus rose again, we do not have to fear the fangs of our worst enemy. Jesus triumphed over death and by his grace, we will as well.
A few months ago, I walked through the cemetery where my father is buried. It would be impossible to count the number of times I have walked or driven past that place in my lifetime. It sits next to my old high school. You could throw a rock to it from the house where my grandparents lived in until I was almost thirty. My mother still lives in the house we moved into before I could walk, it’s only half a mile away. I walked, ran, or drove past that cemetery almost every day when I was growing up.
When I walked past the cemetery in my younger years, I would read the names. The last names might be familiar, but the people whose earthly remains occupied the graves were unknown to me. My early childhood years were, for the most part, blissfully unaffected by death and its sting. Driving past that cemetery involved no pain or loss.
I had a different experience walking through the same cemetery a few months ago. Of course, some things were the same. My grandparents’ old home still looks the same from the front and the high school football field is still across the street. Other things have changed, though. The halls I wandered in high school have been replaced by a nice, new building. The church in which I grew up burned to the ground in 1996 and a spacious new structure sits in its place.
The biggest change I noticed was in the cemetery itself. The names on the graves were no longer unfamiliar to me. Aside from the cemetery serving as my father’s resting place, I saw names of people I went to church with. The names of people I knew from around town stood out on the short walk from the car to Dad’s grave. Even though I drove past death every day of my life growing up, it wasn’t the kind of death I had to think about. The people and the names didn’t touch me. Now, walking through this cemetery as a forty-one-year-old man, the death that surrounded me was personal. It had touched me, my family, and my neighbors.