Q. I’m trying to prepare a children’s sermon. How do we explain to children that death is a time of rejoicing, as well as a time of grieving. When relaying the stories of Jesus raising Lazarus and others from the dead- it is hard to convey that all is fair and right to be content to wait til we see our loved ones in heaven. Why is it that He physically raised Lazarus whom He loved, but will not bring back our loved ones and we must wait (and be content to do so) to be reunited with them?
A. Your perception is flawed. Jesus didn’t bring Lazarus back from the dead in a self serving use of His power. If He missed Lazarus so much all He had to do was wait a few days when He Himself would be dead and they’d be together forever. By bringing Lazarus back He actually made their separation longer, because He was going to the place he’d just brought Lazarus back from, and at the same time He was sentencing Lazarus to more suffering in this life before he got his reward. According to John 11:42 Jesus brought Lazarus back so the people would believe that God had sent Him to them.
Why not tell your children’s group the truth? God created humans to be immortal. Death entered the world because of man’s sin (Romans 5:12), but God in His grace made sure it didn’t have to be a permanent condition (John 6:40).
We celebrate when believers die because they have escaped this sin filled world and have begun an eternal life of unblemished joy. We grieve because we’ll miss them for a time, not because God refuses to bring them back, but because it’s one of the consequences of sin.
You could also tell the children that it’s so nice where dead believers are that none of them want to come back, and all we have to do to make sure we go there is agree to let the Lord’s death pay the penalty for our sins.