Honouring the Dead
Every culture knows the importance of honouring the dead. Family funerals help us to remember that we would not be who we are without the influence of those who have preceded us. Yet grief and loss is often mixed with guilt as we recall occasions in which we did not love as we might, nor care as we could (John 11:21).
National mourning and remembrance celebrations may not be so personally focussed unless our own relatives are included, and we can easily forget the significance of their lives. It was the same way in Jesus' day, but worse. The tombs of the prophets had become tourist spots and pilgrimage shrines; even though it was their own countrymen who had hounded some of them to death: as they would also do with Jesus (Luke 19:47).
Of course, none of that was a surprise to God who knew that the wicked would persecute the righteous (2 Timothy 3:12); and Jesus knew He was on the same track as His cross came into view (Mark 12:1-12; Luke 18:31). Alas, persecutors have seared consciences. They may think they are doing God's will (John 16:2), although they are really seeking to remove God's truth so that they can continue living out the lies they believe. Yet, a few generations on, the dead prophet becomes a hero, and everybody forgets the truth he died for or who sent him to his grave.
Human nature usually distorts the lens of history. We criticise others without seeing ourselves in the same frame; and we exalt those we would not have listened to had we been there. We do not learn the lessons of history because we refuse to believe it relates to us. Jesus' words would also prove to be prophetic about that generation because they refused to accept His words. So, if persecution comes to your door, remember that you stand with a wonderful heritage of faithful men and women whose reward is not written on their tombstones but is reserved in heaven. In the meantime, it is our responsibility to welcome the truth and prophetically pass it on to others (Acts 11:19-21).
© Dr Paul Adams