Today we will attend another memorial service. I guess it’s our stage of life, but it sure seems like there’s a lot of death happening around us right now. There are multiple people on our prayer lists who are battling sickness that will likely take their lives. We read of people dying daily among our friends we know personally, and the news is always full of death, both the young and the old. And most difficult of all, our own aging parents and relatives, some already gone ahead and others approaching the finish line.
When you’re young and attend the funeral of a grandparent or great-grandparent, it doesn’t affect you quite as much as in your later years and you realize you’re not that far away yourself!
I’ve been forced to think about death a lot lately and have also had the opportunity for visits with those who are just a few hours from the end of their lives. The process is difficult to watch, but the Bible gives hope and the promise of joy to those who believe and follow Jesus.
1 Corinthians 15:53-54 – For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.
These verses remind me of a butterfly. While we’re living in this mortal, fleshly body on this cursed, fallen earth we’re a lot like a worm. In fact, in Psalm 22, an amazing Messianic prophecy describing the crucifixion of Jesus, the psalmist calls himself a worm, despised and reproached. A worm is hindered by the nature of its body. He is earth-bound, chewing his way slowly through life, dependent on the good graces of the Creator to sustain his life.
But the stage of being a worm is only temporary. One day, he stops moving. He’s wrapped in a silky covering and grows so still you’re not sure if he’s still breathing, so similar to humans on their deathbeds. Eventually, he’s encased in a cold, hard, shiny shell, just as our bodies stiffen and enter rigor mortis, and much like those expensive coffins we choose for our loved ones – their chrysalis.
The chrysalis stage of a worm is described as a form that butterflies, moths, and most other insects assume when they abandon the larval or caterpillar state and before they arrive at their winged or perfect state; specifically, the pupa of a butterfly. In the chrysalis form the animal is in a state of rest or insensibility and exists without nutriment for a length of time varying with the species and season. During this period an elaboration is going on in the interior of the chrysalis, giving the organs of the future animal their proper development before it breaks its envelope. In the chrysalis, the body tissues of the larvae or caterpillar break down, and the tissues of the adult insect form.
Death is a process, a necessity for metamorphosis to take place. A butterfly can remain encased in its chrysalis for five to twenty-one days. Our metamorphosis is much quicker.
Metamorphosis is defined as a change of physical form, structure, or substance, especially by supernatural means; a striking alteration in appearance, character, or circumstances.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 – Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight—we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 15:53 – For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Have you watched a loved one die recently? Taken note of their withdrawal from the world around them, their lack of the need for food? They stop eating; they stop drinking; they stop communicating, and their breathing grows weak.
If they know Jesus, take heart. They are entering the chrysalis, that stage of life that is simply the door to eternity. As they close their eyes for the last time in this world, they will emerge in the bright lights of the glory of God, mortality shed, having become a completely new creature – an immortal, glorified being made to worship and enjoy the pleasures of the presence of God forever.
Here’s an interesting fact. The word chrysalis begins with the Greek khrysos which means “gold.”
Job 23:10 – But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Death is the last trial we must face, and as followers of Jesus, we face it with joy and confidence. The time of our separation from our loved ones will be short; they will grieve, but not without hope.
Job 19:25-27a – As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another.
But what if you don’t belong to Jesus? What if you don’t believe the gospel, and refuse to put your faith in trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sin?
Death isn’t your friend. It’s the end of your opportunity to live forever in the presence of God, and instead, a door to spiritual death and separation in a place called hell. Our metamorphosis requires a spiritual, supernatural change that only God can accomplish.
John 3:5-7 – Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
1 Peter 4:6 – For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God.
Here’s the reality…we’re all going to die. The question we must wrestle with is, “What will the door of death lead to for me?”
Give your life to Jesus. Die to yourself and be born again in this life, so that when God gently wraps you in that cocoon of physical death, you will know without a doubt what waits for you on the other side.