‘Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world (John 11:23-27).”’
Many Christians say that by being buried they will ‘identify’ themselves with Christ, since He was placed in a tomb (John 19:41, 42) from which He was resurrected (20:14-18). Likewise, they will be raised from their graves at the resurrection (cf. Romans 8:11).
However, thousands of Christians, if not millions, will never be buried, because of the circumstances of their death. Perhaps some will drown at sea and their bodies will never be recovered. Maybe some will die in fires that are so fierce their bodies will be reduced to ashes. There could be a situation when people are vaporised as result of a nuclear explosion, and there may be other scenarios that prevent the dead from being buried.
When Jesus returns to the earth – God will not fail to resurrect believers who have died (1 Corinthians 15:52), irrespective of the state of their bodies. They may be in an advanced state of decay – nothing more than bones and dust; or they may have recently died and be an unwholesome, smelly, putrified mess. Whatever their condition God will give them new spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:44) and unite them with their eternal *souls.
Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37). Indeed, He has predestined the creation of a new earth (Revelation 21:1) and the destruction of the current one (2 Peter 3:10). In the new world, glorified believers (1 Corinthians 15:49) will live in perfect harmony with God and His Son (Revelation 21:22, 24), and with one another (Revelation 21:3; cf. 2 Peter 3:13).
Do you want to be Buried of Cremated?
Some Christians may be undecided as to whether it is better – to be buried or cremated – even though they know the outcome of their resurrection will be the same (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). However, they may come to the conclusion that it is better to be buried, because in that way they can personally ‘identify’ with Christ who was buried in a tomb (John 19:38-42) and raised to life from it (20:11-29).
To further satisfy themselves that burial would be more appropriate than cremation, they may search the Scriptures for confirmation (Acts 17:10; 11).
They would surely find John 19:40: ‘They took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices (Mark 16:1), as the custom of the Jews is to bury.’ Also, ‘Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had been laid. So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby (John 19:41, 42).’
Interestingly, not long after Christ was raised from the dead, certain of the ‘saints’ were raised from their graves. They ‘went into the holy city and appeared to many (Matthew 27:52, 53).’ This was a one-off, unique resurrection from the dead. We are not told what happened to them, but we can assume they lived until they died again. This would have been the case with the son of the widow from Nain, who Jesus raised from the dead (Luke 7:11-15). He also raised Lazarus (John 11:41-44) who lived to die a second time (John 12:9-11).
None of these people were cremated, as it was not the practice of the Jews or the Gentiles to cremate their dead.
Maybe the above quotes from the New Testament and my résumé will help an undecided Christian make up his mind about what is best for him – burial or cremation?
Today it is possible to preserve dead bodies by freezing them. They can be kept indefinitely. The procedure is called ‘cryonics’. Basically a corpse, shortly after clinical death has been confirmed, is frozen to a very low temperature to prevent it from decomposing.
Those who have it done presumably hold on to the hope that future technological advances will enable researchers devise a procedure for restoring them to functional life. I think that is most unlikely. Restorers would have to repair damage done during the process of cryopreservation, and vitrification of the brain would cause irreparable damage. Therefore the chances of success are zilch – a complete waste time and money.
At the end of time when Jesus comes again (Revelation 22:20) there will be no escape from judgment (Hebrews 10:26-31). All will be judged by God’s Son (v 30). Some will receive eternal life (John 3:16) and live with the Father and His Son (Revelation 21:22), but others will be cast ‘into the lake of fire and brimstone’, along with satan, the false prophet and the beast (Revelation 20:10).
My preference is for cremation, because it is cheaper than burial, and my surviving relatives will not be encumbered with the burden of maintaining my grave. I’ve talked to them about it, and they prefer cremation. Cemeteries take up a lot of room, and often they are forlorn places because their graves are uncared for. I like the fact that my ashes will be scattered at a place of my choosing, and there will be no visible trace of my remains. Relatives will not be constantly reminded of my bones under the ground, and they will not have to suffer the annual ritual of placing flowers on my grave, nor will they grieve every time they visit my grave.
Like Adam, my origin is from the dust (Genesis 2:7) and I am tainted with his sin; but unlike him, by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8, 9), I have been raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1). He lives in me (Galatians 2:20), and as Christ was raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:50- 54) so shall I be raised to live with Him and His Father eternally.
‘“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? (v 55).”’
*Mind, Body and Soul