A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – Getting Ready For Grief

 

The life of Jesus was one where the Savior often had to encounter grief. Grief over lost loved ones like John the Baptist (who was His cousin – 14:1-12). Grief over the hard hearts of people (Matthew 23:37). Grief over His own disciples (14:31; 26:50). Chapter 13 of Matthew ends with Jesus being rejected by those in His own hometown (13:53-58). At about the same time that Jesus was being rejected, His relative John the Baptist was being executed by Herod the tetrarch (14:1-12). Oftentimes grief comes in clusters of trials, which test the faith of the grieving. Such was the case with Jesus. How did Jesus deal with His grief? What can we learn about dealing with grief from looking at Jesus? Death is a part of life and therefore grief is a part of life. Grief is a part of life that the disciple should be prepared to handle. The disciple of Jesus needs to understand that death is a part of life and therefore, they need to Get Ready For Grief. Jesus’ example helps us to get ready for grief.

 

Get Ready For Grief

 

Matthew 14:1-12 – “At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus2 and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him.”3 For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.4 Because John had said to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”5 And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet.6 But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod.7 Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”9 And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her.10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.12 Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus.”  [1]

We see hear from the words of Herod, (Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great) that he must have felt guilty about his execution of John the Baptist (14:1-3). These words, (“he is risen from the dead”)  also reveal that the idea of resurrection was known in the day of Jesus. Herod’s mistaken notion that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead is the result of his secular and sensual lifestyle (14:6-11). Herod was a people pleaser (14:9).

 

John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, was a prophet of integrity and grit. He was a no nonsense, call-it-like-it-is prophet. When John learned that Herod had entered into an adulterous marriage with his sister-in-law Herodias, (the wife of his brother Philip), John called them to repent (14:4). This stand on the law of God led to John being imprisoned and ultimately to suffer the violent death of being beheaded (14:10).

 

Death is an occupational hazard for a disciple.

 

The nature of discipleship necessitates the need to get ready for grief. Because of who John the Baptist was, a prophet of faith in God, integrity and truth, he was put in a situation where his steadfast stand for truth led to his death. This put those around him in a place of grief.

 

The nature of a disciple as it relates to this world can be summed up in the following words:

 

  • Acts 4:18-20 – “And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.20 “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”   [2]

 

  • Acts 5:29-32 – “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.30 “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.31 “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.32 “And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”   [3]

 

When we look in the history of the early church we see disciples who gave their lives rather than compromise the truth of God’s word and their saving relationship with Jesus. Stephen gave his life for Jesus (Acts 7). James too gave his life for Jesus (Acts 12:1-3). The other apostles came close to martyrdom repeatedly in the book of Acts and eventually all of the original twelve except for John would be martyred for their faith.

 

Taking a stand for the truth of God’s word often leads to persecution that oftentimes leads to death. Such was the case with Bartholomew, one of the original twelve disciples. In the book Jesus Freaks the following account of how Bartholomew was martyred is given:

 

“You are unsettling the worship of our gods. And not only that, you have perverted my own brother!” the king of Armenia shouted at Bartholomew. But Bartholomew did not back down.

 

One of the original twelve disciples, he had boldly preached Jesus Christ for 37 years. Starting in the heathen cities throughout what is now Turkey, he then traveled to India. Here, after he learned the language, he translated the gospel of Matthew and taught the Indians in their native tongue. Later he preached in twelve different cities in the country of Armenia (located between the present day countries of Turkey and Iran). Many people turned from idolatry to worship Jesus, including the king of Armenia’s brother and family.

 

Bartholomew boldly answered the king, saying, “I have preached the true worship of God throughout your country. I have not perverted your brother and his family, but rather have converted them to the truth.”

 

King Astyages threatened Bartholomew, “Unless you stop preaching Christ and make sacrifices to the god Ashtaroth, you will be put to death.”

 

“You can be sure of this, King Astayages, I will never sacrifice to your idol. I would rather seal my testimony with my blood than do the smallest act against my faith or conscience.”

 

Upon hearing this, the king ordered, “I want this man to suffer sever torture. First, beat him with rods. After that, suspend him upside down on a cross and skin him alive!”

 

Following the king’s command, Bartholomew was beaten, crucified, and flayed. Despite all this, he was still conscious and continued to exhort the people to believe in Jesus and worship the true God.

 

Finally, to prevent him from saying anything else, the king’s men took an ax and cut off his head. Bartholomew was untied with Jesus, his Lord.” [4]

 

Death is an occupational hazard for a disciple. Therefore, the disciple should get ready for the grief that comes when another disciple dies.

 

Death is a part of life.

 

When Adam and Eve sinned, physical death as well as spiritual death entered God’s creation. This was the warning God gave to Adam and Eve:

 

  • Genesis 2:15-17 – “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;17 “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  [5]

The spiritual death was immediate upon the sin of Adam and Eve. But the physical death followed shortly thereafter. Death was not God’s intended purpose for humankind. It was sin that led to death in God’s creation.

Death is all around us. Disciples die, but all people die. We need to be ready to deal with death whether it is the death of a disciple by persecution, or whether it is the death caused by disease, accident or other means. 

The Bible teaches us that (except for those who are around to be raptured by Christ – 1 Corinthians 15:51-52), all who live will one day die and after death comes judgment. We see that in the following verse:

  • Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” [6]

All people will die once and then an initial determination will be made as to one’s eternal destiny. Those who die apart from a saving relationship with Jesus will spend eternity in hell. Those who die “in the Lord” will spend eternity in the presence of the Lord. This reality is conveyed in the following portion of Scripture:

  • 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12 – “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  [7] (See also Matthew 24:41,46; 25; Luke 16)

Since death is such a reality, we need to get ready for the grief because grief is a natural consequence of death.

Grief follows death.

Grief follows death. We see this in the following Scriptures in the case of king David for his son Absalom in the Old Testament and in the case of Jesus in the New Testament who is grieved for his dead friend Lazarus:

  • 2 Samuel 19:1-2 – “And Joab was told, “Behold, the king [i.e. David] is weeping and mourning for Absalom.”2 So the victory that day was turned into mourning for all the people. For the people heard it said that day, “The king is grieved for his son.”  [8]
  • John 11:33-36 – “Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”35 Jesus wept.36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”  [9]

These verses show us that it is natural; it’s okay to grieve when someone dies. It is unnatural to not grieve when a loved one dies. If Jesus grieved, so can we.

What is Grief?

The word “grief” occurs in the Bible twenty eight times; twenty four times in the Old Testament and four times in the New Testament. In the Old Testament there are ten words that are translated with the English word “grief.” ChaÆlaÆh (Strong’s # 2470) occurs twice and carries the sense of being “weak, sick, afflicted.”  ChoáléÆy (Strong’s # 2483) occurs three times and conveys the sense of “malady; anxiety; calamity.” YaÆgaÆh (Strong’s #3013) occurs once and has the meaning of “to grieve; to torment.” YaÆgoÆwn (Strong’s #3015) occurs twice and expresses, “affliction; sorrow.” Kƒ<eÆb (Strong’s # 3511) occurs twice and means, “suffering; adversity.” Ka>ac (Strong’s #3708) occurs seven times and means, “vexation, grief.” Mak<oÆb (Strong’s #4341) occurs twice and means, “anguish; affliction.” MoÆraÆh (Strong’s #4786) occurs once and means, “bitterness; trouble.” PuÆwqaÆh (Strong’s #6330) occurs once and refers to a, “stumbling-block.” And lastly, Ra’ (Strong’s #7451) occurs once and means, “bad; evil.”

In the New Testament LUPEO (Strong’s #3076) occurs once and refers to, “distress; to be sad.” Another word translated “grief” is LUPE (Strong’s # 3077), which also occurs once and means, “sadness, grief.” The last word in the New Testament that is used to convey “grief” is STENAZO (Strong’s #4727), which occurs once and conveys the sense of, “to sigh, murmur, and pray inaudibly.”[10]

In light of the above, we see that grief carries with it some very negative connotations. But part of the blessing of being a Christian is that grief can be overcome in Christ.

 

Death, Grief and the Christian

Before we discuss how to get through grief, we need to acknowledge that death for the Christian is different than it is for the non-Christian. A Christian views death far differently than a person who is not a Christian. What is the difference between an unbeliever’s and a believer’s view of death?

A Christian views death in hope. Paul expressed this distinction when he wrote the following:

  • Colossians 1:3-5,27 – “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints;5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, . . . 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  [11]
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” [12]
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 – “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”  [13]

The implication here is that the Christian has hope, the unbeliever has no hope. The Christian has forgiveness for their sins, that which barred them for entrance into heaven has been removed. The Christian has an assurance that should they die at any moment, they would go to be with the Lord. (For assurance see – John 5:24; Romans 5:1; Ephesians 1:4-5; 1 John 5:13.)

How sad it is, on the other hand, to go to the funeral of someone who lived apart from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. How comforting on the other hand is it to attend a funeral of a brother or sister in Christ. The former feels like a total and permanent separation, the later feels like a temporary separation as though one were going on a trip that leads to a later rendezvous later.

The unbeliever on the other hand has no legitimate hope in death. Today it is fashionable to sooth the feelings of the grieving by assuring them that the death of their loved one is only a transition to “heaven.” But much of this is speculative presumption. To dismiss the need of salvation in Christ as a prerequisite to entrance into God’s heaven is to indulge in the gross blasphemy; it is to put feelings before faith and facts; it is to hinder the work of the Holy Spirit to redeem the lost. To enter God’s kingdom you “must be born again (John 3:5,8, 16). God does not allow anyone into heaven apart from having received His gift of salvation in His Son Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:39,42,44; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10). Apart from a saving relationship with Jesus there is no hope. That is the truth expressed in the following verses:

  • Ephesians 2:1-3,12 – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”  [14]

This brings us to the indispensable step in getting ready for grief.

The Indispensable Step In Getting Ready For Grief

The first step, the indispensable step in getting ready for grief is therefore to get right with God by being saved from your sins through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us how to do this. Below are a series of verses which speak of how to get right with God and be ready for your own death and help others to be ready for death.

  • Matthew 1:21 -  “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” [15]
  • Matthew 4:17 – “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  [16]
  • Matthew 9:2 – “Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.  [17] (See also Ephesians 2:1-10)
  • Matthew 9:13 -  “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”  [18] (See also Acts 2:38; 3:19)
  • Matthew 13:23 -  “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”  [19] (See also Galatians 5:22-24)

These are only a few verses that speak of the gospel that saves. In Matthew 1:21 we see that salvation is through Jesus. In Matthew 9:2 we see that putting one’s faith in Jesus is what leads to forgiveness of sin. In Matthew 4:19 and 9:13 we see that repentance, or turning from one’s sins to God is necessary for salvation. Repentance is not a work we do but is a characteristic of saving faith that God gives us (Ephesians 2:8-9; John 6:29). And lastly, from Matthew 13:23, we see that genuine salvation leads to spiritual fruitfulness. The Spirit who enters the person at conversion produces spiritual fruit; this is called regeneration (Romans 8:9,14-17; Titus 3:15).

The gospel or “good news” begins with the realization of some bad news; all people have sinned and fallen short of what is required to gain access into God’s heaven. Sinfulness is determined and exposed clearly to us through God’s holy Law (the Ten Commandments). God’s Law is good and reveals the way to life. But the Law also exposes the sinfulness in humankind because no one is able to keep it (Romans 7:1-14). The Law is like a link chain, break one commandment and it’s as though you’ve broken them all (Galatians 3:10-13; James 2:10). Since we all have sinned, and the wages of sin is death, we are in a bad predicament. In fact, apart from Christ we are in a hopeless predicament (Romans 6:23). But here comes the good news; God loves us and initiates reconciliation with humankind through His Son Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). While we were hopelessly in sin Jesus came to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God loves us, but He hates sin; He hates sin because sin causes pain to those He loves, (you and me). God has dealt with sin on the cross in Christ. The sinner needs only turn from their sin to God receiving His gift of saving faith, forgiveness of sin and regeneration of the Spirit (John 1:12; Acts 2:38-39; 3:19). Salvation is all by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:1-10).

You might also look at what is called the Roman Road of salvation, which is a series of verses from the book of Romans that tell us the steps of salvation. These verses in the following sequence are: Romans 3:23; 6:23; 2:4; 10:9-10; 5:1; 8:1; 10:17; 12:1-2. In Romans we see in the first three chapters that all people are shut up and separated from God and salvation by their sins. In Romans chapter four we see that faith is the means by which God accounts a person righteous. In Romans five we see that saving faith must be placed in Jesus. In Romans six we see the newness of life, the life of holiness God desires for us, a life free from the bondage to sin. In Romans seven we see the futility of trying to live a holy life in our flesh or in our own strength. In Romans eight we see the key to living a holy life is through the enablement of the Holy Spirit. In Romans nine we see Paul’s burden for the lost, in particular his burden for his countrymen, the Jews. In Romans ten we see salvation is entered into by calling on God believing in your heart that Jesus has been raised from the dead and confessing with your mouth the Jesus is Lord. In Romans 11 we see the indescribable awesomeness of the plan of salvation God has created. In Romans 12 through 16 we see the practical nature of the life in Christ.

Getting Ready For Grief

Through Christ we can receive newness of life and become a new creation, eternal life (Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:16) we still will experience physical death. Because death is something we will all have to deal with at some point in life, we need to get ready for the grief that accompanies death. What can we learn from Matthew 14 that will help us get ready for the inevitable grief in life? How do we get through grief when it hits? Let’s see.

First, We Get Through Grief  By Knowing God Knows About Grief.

Before we get into Matthew 14, we need to acknowledge that God knows about grief. The Bible tells us that God is a personal Being who is capable of and indeed does at times grieve.

The Bible tells us that God the Father grieves. God the Father grieves when people are hardhearted and closed to His love and truth. We see this in the instance of the Flood and also when the people continued in their unbelief in the Wilderness: 

  • Genesis 6:5-6 – “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”  [20]
  • Psalm 95:10 – “For forty years I was grieved with that generation, And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.’   [21]

The Bible tells us that Jesus is acquainted with grief.  In Isaiah it states:

  • Isaiah 53:3,10 – “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. . . .10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.”  [22]

Jesus, “A Man of sorrows,” came to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Such a sacrifice would lead to grief amongst His followers (Luke 2:34-35). 

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit grieves. The Holy Spirit is a Person who is capable of being grieved. What is it that grieves the Holy Spirit? The following section from the letter to the Ephesians states:

  • Ephesians 4:25-32 – “Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath,27 nor give place to the devil.28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”  [23]

The Spirit of God is grieved by every lie, every theft, every corrupt or coarse word, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking. The Spirit must therefore be very grief stricken when He sees the plight of humankind.

God knows what grief is all about and therefore, He is the One to whom the grieving must turn to find comfort. Let’s turn to Jesus and see how He dealt with grief.

Second, We Get Through Grief By Getting Alone With God In Prayer.

Matthew 14:13a – “When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself.”  [24]

The first thing Jesus did when he heard of the death of John the Baptist was to get alone with God in prayer. Therefore, the first thing we should do when we learn of a grief causing loss is get alone with God in prayer.

There is a poem that expresses the value of prayer in times of grief and it states as follows:

Consolation

There is never a day so dreary

But God can make it bright,

And unto the soul that trusts Him,

He giveth songs in the night

There is never a path so hidden,

But God can lead the way,

If we seek for the Spirit’s guidance

And patiently wait and pray.

 

There is never a cross so heavy

But the nail-scarred hands are there

Outstretched in tender compassion

The burden to help us bear.

There is never a heart so broken,

But the loving Lord can heal.

The heart that was pierced on Calvary

Doth still for his loved ones feel.

 

There is never a life so darkened,

So hopeless and unblessed,

But may be filled with the light of God

And enter His promised rest.

There is never a sin or sorrow,

There is never a care or loss,

But that we may bring to Jesus

And leave at the foot of the cross.

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, He went right to prayer. Perhaps He remembered a psalm, a psalm like Psalm 121 which says:

  • Psalm 121:1-8 – “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help?2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.3 He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.4 Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.5 The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand.6 The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.7 The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.8 The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.”  [25]

Or maybe He remembered Psalm 103 on John’s behalf, which states:

  • Psalm 103:8-18 – “The Lord is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.13 As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him.14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children,18 To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.”  [26]

Whatever Jesus remembered from God’s word and whatever He prayed, He demonstrates our first course of action when grief hits, pray.

Third, We Get Through Grief By Letting God’s Love Take Over.

Matthew 14:13-14 – “When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities.14 And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.”  [27]

Jesus initial action after hearing of John’s death, was to get alone with His Father and pray. But notice, He did not turn inward or isolate Himself, no; rather, He let God’s love take over, “He was moved with compassion.”

How would you have reacted if you just heard a close relative had been brutally murdered and you tried to get alone for a while and a group of people followed you? Would you have told them to leave you alone? Would you have yelled or shouted at them to “Just leave me alone!” If you did such a thing it might just be chalked up to an angry stage of grief. But that is not what Jesus did. Jesus let love take over.

The word “compassion” here is translated from the Greek term SPLAGCHNIZOMAI (Strong’s #4697) that means, “to be moved as to one’s bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity).” [28] Jesus let His love take over. He was moved from the depths, from the center of His being, with the love of God. Jesus always responded in love to those seeking Him.  

There are a number of ways to look at this situation. First, the people may have come to Jesus to show support to Him. They may have reasoned that Jesus would be hurting over the loss of John the Baptist and wanted to affirm their support of Jesus. Or, the people may have been selfishly unconcerned with any grief that Jesus was experiencing and were only interested in getting healed by Jesus. In whatever the motive might have been for those who then came to Jesus, Jesus responded in love. If the people were acting selfishly, Jesus was having compassion on those who too would die one day just like all people do. If the people were concerned for Jesus, this must have warmed His heart. It is comforting to know other people care when you go through a time of grief. Jesus was not moved by either of the possible reasons for the people coming to Him; He simply acted in love, which was His nature. That is the healthiest way to respond to grief as well.

The love we let take us over is God’s love, agape love, selfless love. When experiencing grief, we simply need to let God’s love come into us and flow through us to those around us. Some verses that convey this are:

  • Romans 5:5 – “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  [29]
  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  [30]

 

When we let God’s love take over, it leads to ministry, to service of others in the name of Jesus. That is exactly what we see in the life of Jesus.

 

Fourth, We Get Through Grief By Serving Others.

 

Matthew 14:15-21 – “When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”17 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”18 He said, “Bring them here to Me.”19 Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.20 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” [31]

One of Jesus’ most well known miracles occurred in close proximity of Him experiencing grief. Our initial impulse when grief hits may be to shut everything down and turn inward, but that is not what Jesus did. Rather than shut things down, Jesus did just the opposite; He served and encouraged others to do the same.

Miracles

Before we continue to consider the miracles of the Feeding of the Five Thousand and Jesus walking on water we need to acknowledge that not everyone believes miracles are possible. There are those who discount the possibility of the miraculous and therefore approach the accounts of the miracles in the Bible with a presupposition that the miracles recorded are fake, lies, or the mistaken notions of ignorant people.  Josh McDowell in his book Answers to Tough Questions makes the following comments:

“Many laugh at the idea of the possibility of miracles. They argue that miracles are a violation of scientific laws and are therefore unacceptable to modern man.

The Scriptures, however, from one end to the other, contain stories of the miraculous. There are accounts of blind people who immediately received their sight, dead people being raised and extraordinary occurrences within nature, such as a universal flood and the parting of the Red Sea.

The basis for believing in the miraculous goes back to the biblical conception of God. The very first verse of the Bible decides the issue. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, RSV).

If this verse can be accepted at face value, that in the beginning an infinite-personal God created the universe, then the rest should not be a problem. If He has the ability to do this, then a virgin birth, walking on water, feeding 5,000 people with a few loaves and fish, and the other biblical miracles become not only possible but expected.

Of course, if one does not believe in God, he will not accept the miraculous, but for those who have granted the possibility it is not at all ridiculous. As the apostle Paul once said to an unbelieving king, “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8, KJV).”  [32]

 

If God is God, then miracles are possible. Read what the Bible says about God’s ability:

 

  • Job 42:2 - “I know that You can do everything, 1 And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.”  [33]

 

  • Jeremiah 32:17,27 – “‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”  [34]
  • Matthew 19:26 – “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  [35]
  • Luke 1:37 - “For with God nothing will be impossible.”  [36]

As far as miracles are concerned, we ought to adopt the same attitude and faith as that of Abraham of whom it was said by Paul:

  • Romans 4:19-22 – “And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  [37]

When we believe in God, great things are possible!

 

The Feeding of the Five Thousand

 

The feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle of Jesus recorded in all four gospels (Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 1-13). The KJV Bible Commentary makes the following comment about this miracle:

“The simplicity of the story and its inclusion by all four evangelists eliminates any doubt of its true historicity. Old liberal interpretations are totally inadequate. Albert Schweitzer suggested that in actuality each person received only a small crumb or fragment and yet felt satisfied. Barclay hints that the boy’s offering of his lunch convicted the crowd, so that they all got out their previously concealed lunches and shared them. None of these approaches is suggested in the text. Even Schweitzer’s crumbs would add up to gigantic, unbelievable loaves in order for five to feed five thousand! The obvious miracle was the result of Jesus’ divine person and power. As the Creator-God, He multiplied the bread, so that, as each piece was broken off, the original roll still remained intact. No wonder the crowd came back the next day seeking more. If the liberal interpretation of this passage was true, no one would have returned seeking more bread from Jesus (John 6:22–26)!” [38]

It must have been quite a puzzled and consternated look the disciples gave to Jesus when they came to Him seeking to have Jesus send the multitudes (5,000 men plus their families) away and instead Jesus told them to feed them. How on earth could this multitude be fed? They might have thought their Master was overcome with grief to the extent that He wasn’t thinking straight. But Jesus had a lesson for them to learn.

Learn The Truths of the Feeding of the 5000

When we look at the feeding of the 5000 there are two things we need to learn beyond the miracle itself. If we don’t learn these truths, we will miss a major blessing about this miracle. If we don’t get these truths, we’ll never serve God the way He intended us to. 

First. We Are Inadequate. 

Matthew 14:15-17 – “When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. Send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages and buy themselves food.”16 But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”17 And they said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.”  [39]

The disciples didn’t have enough on their own. That is a profound truth; on our own, in our own strength, we never have enough. That is so true disciple. The Bible acknowledges the truth that human beings are weak. We see this in such scriptures as follows, which either expressly states we are weak or imply it:

  • Psalm 6:2 – “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.”  [40]
  • Romans 8:26 – “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”  [41]

What is interesting is that whenever the Bible speaks of humankind’s weakness, it couples with it the hope of strengthening by the Lord. Look at the following verses:

  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  [42]

The sufficiency of God’s grace mentioned in this verse from 2 Corinthians leads us to the second truth of the Feeding of the 5000.

 

Second, God Is Sufficient

Matthew 14:18 – “He said, “Bring them here to Me.”  [43]

Five thousand men plus their families (14:21), five loaves, and two fish, hmmm, NASA we have a problem here! We are as inadequate as trying to feed five thousand plus people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Even if the bread was Wonder Bread and the fish came from Charlie the Tuna, it still doesn’t add up. But here is the profound truth for us to grasp; God is sufficient, therefore, when we bring to Him whatever we have, He replaces our inadequacy with His sufficiency.

The apostle Paul knew this truth and expressed it to the Corinthians when he was inspired to write:

  • 2 Corinthians 9:8 – “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”  [44]

What incredible verses these are from the Lord. “God is able,” that’s the key here disciple, it is God who is able (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). He pours out “all grace,” on us in a way that gives, “all sufficiency in all things,so that we will have whatever is needed, “for every good work.” What a comforting word that is! What a blessing! Especially in times of grief and in life generally.

You have to receive before you can give.

Matthew 14:19 – “Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes.”  [45]

Jesus took what the disciples brought to Him and began to work. Notice, first He organized; God is orderly (1 Corinthians 14:33,40). Next Jesus blessed the morsels of food to show where the sufficiency was coming from,; from God! (2 Corinthians 9:8). Then Jesus broke the bread, which He likely did as a sign that the disciples would recognize later  after He had been broken so to speak on the cross. Ministry involves breaking. It was only after Jesus organized, blessed, and broke, that He then gave the loaves to the disciples to give out. Jesus gave to the disciples and the disciples gave to the multitudes. You have to receive from Jesus in order to give out.

If you are simply looking for a formula to get through grief, if you are simply going to apply these things in a secular rather than spiritual way, you will break under the weight of your grief. Before the disciples could feed the multitude, they had to receive food from Jesus to give out. Before you can let God’s love take over and before you can serve others, you have to RECEIVE from the Lord.

Remember what Jesus taught earlier in the gospel of Matthew? Remember these words:

  • Matthew 11:28-30 - “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  [46]

You can’t give out until you give in to Jesus and receive His empowering. And if you don’t give in to Jesus, you will give out, you will collapse under the burden of grief.

The apostle Paul said on numerous occasions that he gave out what he had first received from the Lord. Read what he said:

  • Acts 20:24 - “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”  [47]
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23a – “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: . . .”  [48]
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3a - 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: . . .”  [49]
  • 1 Corinthians 15:10 – “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”  [50]
  • 2 Timothy 2:6 – “The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops.”  [51] (See 1 Corinthians 4:7)

Before you can give in ministry, you have to receive from the Lord. We need to understand that Jesus gives an abundant supply of what we need.

Jesus gives in abundance.

Matthew 14:20-21 – “So they all ate and were filled, and they took up twelve baskets full of the fragments that remained.21 Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children.”  [52]

Notice that there was an abundant amount of leftovers from the food Jesus supplied. When Jesus supplies us for a need He purposes to meet, He does so abundantly. This is true in terms of spiritual strength. God’s grace is more than enough to sustain us. Read what God’s word promises:

  • John 1:16 – “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.”  [53]
  • Acts 4:33 – “And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”  [54]
  • Romans 5:20-21 – “Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  [55]
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  [56]

When we call on Jesus in times of grief we can rest assured that He will give us what we need by His grace.

Fifth, We Get Through Grief by Coming To Jesus

Matthew 14:22-36 – “Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” 34 When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret.35 And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick,36 and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well.”  [57]

Jesus is the only One able to help us through the stormy times of grief in life. When we turn to Jesus, we learn a few things about the trials we encounter.

First, Jesus wants us to get away from the multitudes at times. Jesus “made” (Greek ANAGKAZO Strong’s #315), or “strongly urged, compelled, forced,” His disciples to get into a boat and go over to the other side of Galilee without Him. There are times when Jesus dismisses us to go on to the other side (14:22). Jesus again is seen getting alone to pray (14:23). Jesus sets an example for us here. If Jesus, the Son of God, God in the flesh, got alone to pray, we should too!

Second, Jesus comes to us when we are struggling. The disciples encountered a strong wind that caused them to struggle at the oars in their journey across the Sea (14:24). The wind can present a pretty powerful force to fight against. If you’ve ever ridden a bicycle into the wind you know it can be pretty relentless and frustrating. In our own strength, life is a struggle.

At “the fourth watch” (or 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.), Jesus came out to the struggling disciples by walking on the water to them (14:25).

Third, respond to Jesus with faith not fear. When Jesus came out to them, they thought He was a ghost and were afraid (14:26). It is amazing how many people are willing to seek comfort in necromancy and calling up the dead rather than looking unto Jesus.

Fourth, when we fear we can come to Jesus for faith. When the disciples were fearful Jesus said, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid. . . . Come.” (14:27-29). Jesus wants to give us faith where we once feared. He offers us faith and says, “Come” to us.

Fifth, when we keep our eyes on Jesus, we walk by faith over the dark depths of grief; when we look down at the abyss, we will sink in it. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to stay above the depths of the sea. But as soon as he took his eyes off Jesus and put his attention on the howling wind around him, he sunk (14:30). Jesus says to Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (14:31), implying that had Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he would have been able to continue his walk. If we keep our eyes on Jesus, there’s no limit to what we can do.

Sixth, worship Jesus when the winds die down. We should worship Jesus at all times, but especially when He calms the strong winds in our lives (14:32-33).

Seventh, come to Jesus in grief and for all your needs. The chapter ends by depicting a host of needy people from throughout the region coming to Jesus for healing. They begged Him to heal them and He made them perfectly well (14:34-36).

Who Is Jesus?

Matthew 14:32-33 – “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”  [58]

It states they “worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.” Right here the disciples knew Jesus was more than a mere man. Who is Jesus? Josh McDowell in his book Answers To Tough Questions states the following about Jesus:

 

“Among the religious leaders who have attained a large following throughout history, Jesus Christ is unique in the fact that He alone claimed to be God in human flesh. A common misconception is that some or many of the leaders of the world’s religions made similar claims, but this is simply not the case.

 

Buddha did not claim to be God; Moses never said that he was Yahweh; Mohammed did not identify himself as Allah; and nowhere will you find Zoroaster claiming to be Ahura Mazda. Yet Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, said that he who has seen Him (Jesus) has seen the Father (John 14:9). . . .

 

This fact separates Jesus from the other religious figures. In the major religions of the world, the teachings—not the teacher—are all-important. . . . However, at the center of Christianity is the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not just claim to be teaching mankind the truth; He claimed that He was the truth (John 14:6). What Jesus taught is not the important aspect of Christianity, but what is important is who Jesus was. Was He the Son of God? Is He the only way a person can reach God? This was the claim He made for Himself.

 

Suppose this very night the President of the United States appeared on all the major networks and proclaimed that “I am God Almighty. I have the power to forgive sin. I have the authority to raise my life back from the dead.” He would be quickly and quietly shut off the air, led away, and replaced by the Vice-President. Anybody who would dare make such claims would have to be either out of his mind or a liar, unless he was God.

 

This is exactly the case with Jesus. He clearly claimed all these things and more. If He is God, as He claimed, we must believe in Him, and if He is not, then we should have nothing to do with Him. Jesus is either Lord of all or not Lord at all.

 

Yes, Jesus claimed to be God. Why should anyone believe it? After all, merely claiming to be something does not make it true. Where’s the evidence that Jesus is God? The Bible gives various reasons, including miracles and fulfilled prophecy, that are intended to convince us that Jesus is the one whom He said He was (John 20:30, 31). The main reason, or the sign which Jesus Himself said would demonstrate that He was the Son of God, was His resurrection from the dead.

 

When asked for a sign from the religious leaders, Jesus replied, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40, RSV). In another place He said, when asked for a sign, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up…  but he spake of the temple of his body” (John 2:19, 21, KJV). The ability to raise His life back from the dead was the sign that separates Him not only from all other religious leaders, but also from anyone else who has ever lived.

 

Anyone wishing to refute the case for Christianity must explain away the story of the       resurrection. Therefore, according to the Bible, Jesus proves to be the Son of God by coming back from the dead (Romans 1:4). The evidence is overwhelming that Jesus did rise from the grave, and it is this fact that proves Jesus to be God.” [59] (Emphasis added.)

Jesus is God in the flesh. Because Jesus rose from the dead, He is the only One fully qualified to go to during times of grief.

Jesus Is The Only One Who Can Help Us Deal With Grief and Death

Jesus is the only One who can help us deal with grief and death because He alone has tasted death for us and been victorious over death. Because Jesus died on the cross, the possibility of death being overcome with eternal life has become a reality. Through Jesus the sting of death is removed.

We see this truth in a number of foundational portions of Scripture. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he is inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 – “So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? 1 O Hades, where is your victory?”56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  [60]

Paul here is speaking of the transition of death for the believer. For the believer, death is not an end but a beginning, a doorway to eternal life in the presence of God. This is true because of the victory Jesus accomplished over death at the resurrection. With this truth accepted by faith, we can be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he continues his discussion on the topic of death by saying:

  • 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – “ Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  [61]

You see, the truth of the glory of eternal life in Christ is a source of immense encouragement for the believer. Even though we see the ongoing deterioration of our mortal bodies, whatever we go through in this world reality, (e.g. sickness; affliction; persecution; old age, etc.) is only a momentary light affliction in comparison to what awaits us in heaven with Jesus.  

Paul continues to discuss the reality of our bodily decay and our eternal heavenly bodies. He is inspired to write:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 – “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven,3 if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked.4 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.5 Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord.7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” [62]

Life in these temporally present physical bodies is a “groan” or constant reminder of our fallenness that we can’t wait to get rid of. While we are in this present physical body there is a real sense of our being “absent from the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6). When Paul interjects, “We walk by faith and not by sight,” (5:7), he is pointing out that we shouldn’t let our temporally deteriorating bodies get us down, but rather walk in faith believing in the eventual shedding of the temporal and putting on of our eternal bodies (1 Corinthians 15:54-58). When we die we go instantly to be with the Lord in this eternal sense. That is the hope of the believer and what buoys him or her through oftentimes painful process of aging and affliction in this present life.

Jesus has won victory over death through the cross and His resurrection. He is the first fruits or the first of many who will follow Him in resurrection to eternal life.

Death doesn’t have to be a dark fearful abyss.

Death doesn’t have to be a dark abyss for you to fear. In fact, the Bible tells us that Jesus died to alleviate such fears of death. In Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 2:14-15 – “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.  [63]

Death can be a fearful binding thing if you don’t know where death will lead you. In Christ you can be certain of where you will be after death. Read what John the apostle wrote:

  • 1 John 4:17-19 – “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.19 We love Him because He first loved us.”  [64]

When we have received Jesus as Lord and Savior, the forgiveness of our sins and regeneration by the Holy Spirit (John 1:12; 3:5,16; Titus 3:5) then God pours out a love into our hearts that assures us of our place with Him (Romans 5:5; 8:1-17). When God’s Spirit is in us, nothing can separate us from God’s love, that’s a firm promise form God. In Romans it states:

  • Romans 8:31-39 – “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36 As it is written: 1 “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  [65]

The question is, is that love in you? Do you have that assurance of eternal life in Christ? Are you ready for the grief that will inevitably come your way? Disciple, get ready for grief and help others to get ready for grief.

Conclusion

I recently received a note from a dear brother in Christ whose father was suddenly killed in a work related incident. This letter that was passed on to me shows the importance and reality of someone who is ready for grief. The letter says:

“My father was killed by a drunk driver on late Friday night . . . . He works on a paving machine, and as you know, they do road construction at night.  He had just gotten off the machine, well within the work zone, and a drunk woman drove through a traffic light, through the cones, and hit him from behind.  They're guessing somewhere above the speed limit.

 

It was sudden.  It's unbelievably tragic.  With one small twist. He was saved.

 

. . . I don't know if you . . . have lost one or both parents yet, but I can tell you the pain is incredible.  And yet, Blessed Assurance dulls the edge of the pain.  Our whole family is saved, and our testimony to everyone we meet has been nothing short of a miracle.  Seven people have so far told me that they wish they had my faith.  I reply the same way every time.  Faith is a gift from God.  Ask Him for it.  He'll give it to you, too.  How thankful I am that God has given us such Grace and such Faith in the face of such incredible pain, that they keep saying they wish they had it.  Praise the Lord!  Now I know how Schadrach, Meshach, and Abednego endured the fiery furnace.  I am a living example of how incredible God's Grace really is.

 

I can't make this a long letter.  I have a lot going on now.  Please keep my mother in your prayers.  They just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary two months ago.  Dad would have been 62 in two weeks.  Old enough to retire.  We accept this as God's will and fully expect Him to use it for His honor and glory.  People have written my mother off as insane because she is constantly saying, "Thank You, Jesus" when her husband of 40 years died within the last 48 hours.  But God's Glory shines the brightest on the darkest days.  If God is for us, who can be against us?

 

Just pray that we keep up our boldness and that the Holy Spirit gives us wisdom to share the Gospel with accuracy and truth.  I have done nothing but share the Gospel with everyone who has tried to "console" me.  They literally are scratching their heads.  They just can't figure out why we're not sobbing uncontrollably.

 

I tell them that my father is a living example of "Today is the day of salvation."  I tell them that if my dad waited to accept Christ, figuring he could do it on his deathbed, it would be forever too late.  Didn't God say, "For today, your soul is required of you.”?  I don't need to pray for my dad.  He's in paradise.  What I do pray for is that God will be glorified, and the name of Jesus will be lifted up in the face of this horrible tragedy.  That souls will be saved, and that God will accomplish His purpose through this tragedy.

 

I'll give you details later.  I think already, several people must have accepted the Lord because of this.  And I'm willing to part with my dad if it means winning souls for the Kingdom.  After all, I'm gonna see him again someday.  Probably really soon, too.  They're rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem.  That's a sign given in the Bible that the end is here.  So once again, dad wanted to get to the party early.  (Dad was never late for an appointment).”

 

Disciple, get ready for grief.

 

 

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[3]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[4] Dc Talk, The Voice of the Martyrs, Jesus Freaks (Tulsa, OK: Albury Pub., 1999) p. 205-206.

[5]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[6]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]James Strong, New Strong’s guide to Bible words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[14]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]Josh McDowell, Answers to tough questions: Skeptics ask about the Christian faith [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1993 by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[58]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[59]Josh McDowell, Answers to tough questions: Skeptics ask about the Christian faith [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1993 by Josh McDowell and Don Stewart. “The claims of Christ are many and varied. He said that He existed before Abraham (John 8:58), and that He was equal with the Father (John 5:17, 18). Jesus claimed the ability to forgive sins (Mark 2:5–7), which the Bible teaches was something that God alone could do (Isaiah 43:25). The New Testament equated Jesus as the creator of the universe (John 1:3), and that He is the one who holds everything together (Colossians 1:17). The apostle Paul says that God was manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16, KJV), and John the evangelist says that “the Word was God” (John 1:1). The united testimony of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament is that He was more than mere man; He was God. Not only did His friends notice that He claimed to be God, but so did His enemies as well. There may be some doubt today among the skeptics who refuse to examine the evidence, but there was no doubt on the part of the Jewish authorities.  When Jesus asked them why they wanted to stone Him, they replied, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (John 10:33, NASB).”

 

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.