“There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem. And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.”Mark 15:40-47
On this day in 1875, Benjamin Keasberry was called home to be with the Lord. He was the founding pastor of the church that is today known as Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church, the first Presbyterian congregation in Singapore. We may rightly give thanks to the Lord for Benjamin Keasberry’s life and seek to follow in his example of godly service. We may also rejoice in the certain hope that this father in our faith now rests in the Lord and awaits the resurrection of all flesh.
Death is a grim constant looming over all humanity. It can come at the end of a long life or after a long period of illness. For some, death comes like a thief at night, through acts of senseless violence and incomprehensible evil, as we have seen in recent events in Afghanistan. For others, death comes in one fell swoop, as with the hundreds of thousands who have perished in the plague of Covid-19.
Our Lord, the second Person of the Trinity incarnate as a human being, did not spare himself from humanity’s fate of death, which is the result of sin. He tasted the sharpness of death and drank the cup of suffering to the bitter end, being buried in a tomb and descending to the dead. He died to pay the price for our sins. He died so that we, when we make our final journey past the last frontier of life, may be comforted by His presence even in death—“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
As Christians, nevertheless, we do not believe that our story ends there. Jesus’ presence with us in death would bring no hope if He had remained dead and could at most mitigate the darkness of death. To the contrary, claims this prayer appointed for Christian funerals:
In Him, who rose from the dead,
our hope of resurrection dawned.
The sadness of certain death
gives way to the bright promise of immortality.
Lord, for Your faithful people,
life is changed, not ended.
When the body of our earthly dwelling is laid aside,
we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.
And at the resurrection of the dead, in the new creation, with redeemed and renewed lips and voices we will proclaim God’s praise and acclaim the Lamb who was sacrificed for us. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” we will say with Benjamin Keasberry and all the saints, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
“Jesus Christ is Lord!” to the glory of God the Father.