Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Though dead they still speak

And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead (Heb 11:4).

There's a sense in which dying words aren't necessarily your last words. Have you ever noticed how many rich folks are buried? Some of them have ostentatious private family crypts or mausoleums. Even in death they are still striving to impress their neighbors. Even in death, they have a message for the living: "I'm somebody! I'm more important than you! I'm higher on the social ladder!" Even on the way out, that's how they want to be remembered.

Of all times and places, people should be humble in death. Death shows how powerless the powerful ultimately are, how worthless wealth ultimately is. Death is the great leveler.

People whose tomb makes a proud worldly statement aren't just signaling their neighbors, but signaling the God of the living and the dead. The very last thing a dying person should wish to do is flaunt his social pretensions before his Maker and Judge. It's striking to compare their attitude to John Calvin:

He was buried on Sunday in an unmarked grave at a secret location somewhere in Geneva. In one of the last commentaries he wrote, he commented on the death and burial of Moses, "It is good that famous men should be buried in unmarked graves."[1] This conviction guided his own burial. He rejected the superstitious veneration of the dead and wanted no pilgrimages to his grave. he had lived to make Christians, not Calvinists. He had perhaps written his own best epitaph in his Institutes ". . . we may patiently pass through this life in afflictions, hunger, cold, contempt, reproaches, and other disagreeable circumstances, contented with this single assurance, that our King will never desert us, but will give what we need, until having finished our warfare, we shall be called to the triumph." Robert Godfrey, John Calvin, Pilgrim and Pastor (Crossway 2009, 198-99).

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