I’ve known Don for more than 12 years. He is one of the most remarkable men I have ever met.
After 25 years in the LA County Fire Department, he spent over 30 years as a chaplain in the L.A. County Jails. His heart for evangelism showed itself in ways too numerous too count. I’ve never known a man with a more consistent smile, a bigger heart, or a greater gift of encouragement.
When I grow up, I want to be like Don.
I spoke at his memorial service this afternoon. Cancer took him from us in mid-December, so we gathered today to celebrate his life along with his wife, his 3 kids, his 8 grandchildren and his 14 great-grandchildren. It was sad. There were tears. We’re going to miss him.
But there was great confidence among those in the room who, like Don, are following Jesus Christ. We are going to see him again. On a day like today, that confidence changes everything.
Those who trust Jesus look at death differently. We follow the One who took everything Death could throw at Him, who in fact appeared to be defeated by it. Calvary seemed at first glace to bring the radical rabbi from Nazareth back down to earth, creating just one more victim of mankind’s greatest enemy. Jesus went down, and Death was left standing.
But the battle wasn’t over. It extended from the cross to the tomb. And when He rose again, it became clear that Death had lost, and Jesus was left standing.
In fact, Death didn’t just lose. It died. As Puritan John Owen put it, Death died in the death of Christ. It is now a defeated enemy, a dragon without fire, an adversary disarmed. Christians can actually mock death the way the Apostle Paul did in 1 Corinthians 15:55: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
For the follower of Christ, thanks to His work on the cross, death has become a door. Don has passed through that door. So have my parents, my mother-in-law, my brother. There is life on the other side of that door. There is worship and praise, love and joy. There is Jesus. And what He has waiting for us is beyond our imagination.
This is fantastic news, and at the Cross Conference, Conrad Mbewe urged us to spread it to all corners of the planet. He called us to turn to the world around us and deliver the message: “That which has brought misery on all, which has been looming large over you, has been quenched in the person of God’s own Son.”
If we truly believe this, why in the world would we keep the news to ourselves?
I want there to be a lot more memorial services like the one this afternoon. I want people all over the planet to know that Death has died, Jesus wins, and those who follow Him live forever.
I want this news to spread, and will do what is needed to make it happen. I hope you will, too.
(You can see the rest of Conrad Mbewe’s powerful Cross Conference message here.)
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