Speaking the Truth in Love

Asleep in Jesus

asleep-in-churchIn 1832, Margaret Mackay wrote the hymn “Asleep in Jesus.” The first stanza speaks of “a calm and undisturbed repose.” After staying up too late on Saturday night, we may be tempted to sleep in instead of attending Bible school or to doze off during the morning message. This wasn’t the sort of “undisturbed repose” Mackay had in mind, though.

She was thinking of Paul’s encouraging first letter to the Thessalonians. He told the church that he didn’t want them to be uninformed “concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thess. 4:13-14). But why did Paul think of death in Christ as sleep?

Surely, Paul had at least two reasons. First, death means the end of our earthly labors, struggles, and anxieties. The author of Hebrews describes eternal life as a coming “sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).

Second, death precedes resurrection. This is Paul’s main idea in 1 Thessalonians 4. The church mustn’t “grieve as others do who have no hope.” Deceased Christian friends are merely “asleep” (v. 13). At the “sound of the trumpet of God,” the dead will wake up. In fact, people who die in the Lord will be first to welcome the King when he comes in the clouds to claim us (vs. 16-17).1_thessalonians_4_16_the_dead_in_christ_powerpoint_church_sermon_slide01

Therefore, when a close Christian friend or loved one dies, we can take comfort in knowing that our farewell isn’t final. Our brother or sister is “asleep in Jesus.” And one day soon he will rise again!

Share This