My wife is Mexican. One of the many wonderful advantages to marrying a Mexican is the food. I love Mexican food and usually I’m up to trying just about anything. For example, I remember the first time I tried menudo.
No, I’m not talking about the Puerto Rican boy band from the 1980’s. Menudo is a Mexican soup. From the first time I tried it, I loved it. Only later did I find out menudo is tripe soup. It’s made out of the lining of a cow’s stomach.
From the moment I found out what menudo really was, I made the decision that if the food was good, I didn’t want to know what was in it. Ignorance is bliss.
We say that all the time, don’t we? “Ignorance is bliss.” And sometimes that’s true. As long as the food is good, I am happy to eat it in blissful ignorance.
When it comes to death, however, ignorance is definitely not bliss. Have you ever been to a funeral with people who do not know or believe what the Bible says? Have you ever seen a mother clinging desperately to her daughter’s casket, screaming inconsolably? I have. I’ve watched as they pried her hands from the cold casket. When it comes to death, ignorance is not bliss.
The Christians in the Greek city of Thessalonica were confused about death. The Apostle Paul was only with them a short time. He had taught them Jesus was coming back in the end of the world to take them to be with him in heaven. That was good news! But then Grandpa Joe died. Then Aunt Kathy died. “Oh, no,” they thought. “What’s going to happen to those who die before the end of the world? They won’t be here when Jesus comes.”
They got so upset, Paul wrote them a letter. “Brothers,” he told them, “we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep [that is, those who die] or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). You’ll notice, Paul didn’t tell them not to grieve. Death hurts. We are going to miss our loved ones who die. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to grieve.
But we don’t grieve like the rest of men who have no hope. We don’t grieve like that mother clinging to her daughter’s casket, because we know. We know Jesus died and rose again.
We know Jesus died on the cross to save us. We know he died on the cross for our sins. But what does that mean? How did Jesus’ death save you? How did a guy being nailed to a cross take away your sins?
It’s because the wages of sin – the punishment sin deserves – is death, and not just physical death. Sin deserves the death of hell. While he was on the cross, Jesus suffered the death of hell – complete and total separation from God’s love – the punishment we deserve for our sins. Jesus died our death. He suffered our hell.
You can be sure you are going to heaven when you die because Jesus died your death in your place. You can be sure you are going to heaven because Jesus rose again. The tomb could not hold him. Death had no power over him and he promises that now all those who believe in him will live even though they die (John 11:25,26).
Because of God’s great love, because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, you have a home waiting for you in the happiness of heaven when you die. You know that. Knowing changes everything. Knowing is bliss.