Throughout history, there has been one thing that is common to everyone who has ever lived: death. Some deaths have been more spectacular than others, some more notable, and some more mysterious.
Some changed the course of history and made a difference in the world, while most passed relatively unnoticed. Some stand out, either due to the life of the person, or because of the way they died, or something to do with their funeral.
For example, Alexander the Great, had the most expensive funeral in history away back in 323 BC. He established the powerful Greek Empire that ruled much of the world.
According to the ancient historian, Diodoris, when Alexander died at the age of 32, he was placed in a solid gold sarcophagus, which was then placed in a solid gold casket, which was carried by a solid gold carriage pulled by 64 mules. It’s estimated that the cost of Alexander’s funeral exceeded half a billion dollars.
Princess Diana’s funeral was watched by more people than any other person in history. After she died in a car accident in Paris in 1997 at the age of 36 her funeral was massive, with people lining the streets of London to mourn. An estimated 2.5 billion people around the world tuned in to watch the live television broadcast of the funeral.
James Doohan, had his ashes blasted into space. He was an actor in the television and film series Star Trek, and had a lasting wish to travel in space. After he died, a small urn containing some of his ashes was flown into space aboard a rocket.
Genghis Khan had the most violent funeral of all time. The Mongolian warlord who brutally conquered much of Asia throughout his life, was almost as deadly in death. He wanted to be buried in an unknown and unmarked grave to prevent his enemies from desecrating his remains.
So, everyone who attended the funeral and everyone along the way, as well as all the soldiers in the funeral procession were killed so that everyone who could have known where Khan was buried were now also dead.
Jim Henson had a send-off from the Muppets. He was an artist who worked on Sesame Street who created the Muppets. At his memorial service the Muppets themselves made an appearance to ensure his funeral was a joyous affair, just as Henson wanted.
C.N. Annadurai had the most attended funeral ever. When the much-loved Indian politician died in 1969, 15 million people gathered for his funeral. It was one of the largest gatherings in history and the most attended funeral ever.
These epic funerals remind us that no matter how remarkable, powerful, talented or popular a person may be, they will eventually pass away as well. They remind us that death comes to us all.
However, the death and funeral that has impacted history and humanity more than any other was anything but epic in the popular sense of the word. There was no pomp or ceremony or large crowds. In fact, it was a rather ordinary affair attended by just a small group of close friends and secret admirers.
But this death changed the world forever. It changed everything. It literally split history into A.D. and B.C. Every time you write a date, every time you celebrate your birthday, you’re using the death of Jesus Christ as the focal point.
And what makes the death of Jesus Christ so important is that it didn’t last long. Just three days later he was alive again. God raised him from the dead. The grave couldn’t hold Jesus.
His tomb is empty. Many believe that this rock-hewn garden tomb just outside the walls of Old Jerusalem is the authentic site where Christ’s body was laid after his crucifixion. Whether it is or not, we may never know for sure. And it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that it reminds us that Christ’s tomb is empty. His is risen.
Can you imagine witnessing his death and then seeing Jesus walking around Jerusalem three days later? What an amazing thing! It was amazing back then, and it’s still amazing today. And here’s why. The story of the Resurrection isn’t just Jesus’ story – it’s our story as well.
You see, you are a part of the Resurrection. Jesus’ death and Resurrection didn’t just prove there is life after death. The Resurrection proves you can have life after death – that there’s life beyond the grave.
Jesus says, if you believe in him and trust him, then death isn’t the end. God made you to live forever. That’s why you often have a feeling there’s more to life than this. Jesus made an amazing promise in John 11:25,26: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
That’s quite a promise! Jesus proved he could do it by resurrecting himself. He did it back then and he can do it again – for you. The Bible says: ‘By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also (1 Corinthians 6:14).
The great epic funerals of history remind us that death comes to us all. But the death of Jesus reminds us that in him, life triumphs over death. As we remember and celebrate the Resurrection this year, that’s a truth to focus on and hang our lives on. If you trust him, you will triumph over death and live forever too. And that’s something worth celebrating!