Pastoral Ministry


Chapter 30—Funeral

Jesus, the minister's model, wept in the face of death—Christ was a close observer, noticing many things that others passed by. He was ever helpful, ever ready to speak words of hope and sympathy to the discouraged and the bereaved. He allowed the crowd to press round Him, and complained not, though sometimes almost lifted off His feet. When He met a funeral, He did not pass by indifferently. Sadness came over His face as He looked upon death, and He wept with the mourners.—The Upward Look, 57. PaM 173.1

Death, in the presence of the Lifegiver, is only temporary—In clear, authoritative voice the words are spoken, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” That voice pierces the ears of the dead. The young man opens his eyes. Jesus takes him by the hand, and lifts him up. His gaze falls upon her who has been weeping beside him, and mother and son unite in a long, clinging, joyous embrace. The multitude look on in silence, as if spellbound. “There came a fear on all.” Hushed and reverent they stood for a little time, as if in the very presence of God. Then they “glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited His people.” The funeral train returned to Nain as a triumphal procession. “And this rumor of Him went forth throughout all Judea, and throughout all the region round about.”—The Desire of Ages, 318. PaM 173.2

A Christian's funeral can provide a powerful witness for Christianity—When we called at night we found the young man very near his end. His mortal frame was racked with pain. We prayed with him, and his heavy breathing and groaning ceased while we were praying. The blessing of God rested down in that sick room, and we felt that angels were hovering around. He was relieved a little, yet knew that he was dying. He tried to have us understand that hope lightened up the future, and that to him it was not a dark uncertainty. We understood from broken sentences that he should have part in the first resurrection, and then be made immortal. Said he, “Tell Bro. Bates that I will meet him then.” His faltering tongue often spoke that dear name, so precious to the dying Christian—Jesus—in whom all his hope of eternal life centered. He fell asleep in Jesus a few hours after we left. My husband attended the funeral. There were many present who had listened to his faithful exhortations, and despised them while he was living, and some who had abused him on account of his faith, a short time before. They looked upon the countenance of the dead, which bore a pleasant smile, and turned from the sight with quivering lip and moistened eye. We could but think, though dead, he speaketh. It was the testimony of all present that they had never seen so pleasant and lovely an expression upon the face of the dead. We followed the body to the grave, to rest until the righteous dead awake to immortality.—Spiritual Gifts 2:92. PaM 173.3

Funerals should not include ostentatious and extravagant display—Concerning the burial of Israel's high priest, the Scriptures give only the simple record, “There Aaron died, and there he was buried.” Deuteronomy 10:6. In what striking contrast to the customs of the present day was this burial, conducted according to the express command of God. In modern times the funeral services of a man of high position are often made the occasion of ostentatious and extravagant display. When Aaron died, one of the most illustrious men that ever lived, there were only two of his nearest friends to witness his death and to attend his burial. And that lonely grave upon Mount Hor was forever hidden from the sight of Israel. God is not honored in the great display so often made over the dead, and the extravagant expense incurred in returning their bodies to the dust.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 427. PaM 174.1