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Cremation or Burial?

I want to be buried. Like I mean, I am looking forward to being buried.

Don’t worry—not in some weird way. Like the trend that is happening in Japan, where you can pay to experience your funeral ahead of time. Complete with laying in your coffin, and the lid being shut over top. That’s strange. No thank-you. I’m not looking forward to being buried in that kind way.

But the way the Bible describes a Christian’s death makes me look forward to be buried when I die. Although my prayer is that Jesus returns first before I die—that would be far better. But if I have to die, I want to be buried.


Jesus Has Transformed the Grave

The Bible describes the Christian’s death in two different, and wonderful pictures: One, it says the body being buried is like a seed being planted, that will sprout and grow into new life (read: 1 Corinthians 15:35-44). And two, it says a Christian dying is like you have fallen asleep, and will awake with Jesus (read: 1 Corinthians 15:20, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18).

Jesus has transformed the grave for all who believe in Him. He’s taken away it’s sting (1 Corinthians 15:55). And He has changed it into a bed (did you know that “cemetery” means, “sleeping place”?). He did that by taking away His people’s sin and it’s penalty, by dying for them on the cross. And He has made the grave into a garden, where He is as the heavenly gardener (did you know in the Netherlands cemeteries are called, “Church Gardens”?).

Being Buried is an Act of Faith

Cremation is now around 70% in Canada. That means 7 in 10 people are choosing not to be buried. By 2020 they guess it will be up to 80%. Ashes (that’s what the body becomes in cremation—it’s burned in 1000 ’C fire, and becomes really, not ashes, but bone fragments)—that does not give the picture of sprouting to new life, nor of peacefully sleeping. At all. Instead the imagery of fire and the human body is used in the Bible as a picture of judgment (think of Sodom & Gomorrah in Genesis 19, or read what happened to Achan, in Joshua 7:25).

I don’t want that. I don’t want that imagery used when I die at all. As a Christian, I want to be buried. I want the picture of sprouting to new life, and waking from sleep. I want to say, in my death, that I believe Jesus can do what He promised in grace, and give me new life. I also don’t have to fear the grave, because He has conquered it.

Does this mean He cannot raise up those who have been cremated? No, He can. And let me be completely open: Burial is no where commanded in the Bible. God can, and He will, raise up everyone who has died, no matter what way they die. And burial in no way makes me more fit for heaven than if I were cremated. The gospel is clear on this: Only repenting from our sins and trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior, saves us. But: Jesus has prepared the grave for each child of God. He’s made it ready. He’s dug a furrow in the ground for the seed. He has, as it were, made the bed. And if I have to go to sleep, I want to sleep in that bed.

Psalm 116:15 says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” And I believe it. I see it even in the way He sent His Son to prepare the grave.

Do you?


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