“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Poppa looked out at the vultures circling near the back pasture. I walked out onto the back porch and handed him a cup of coffee. He took the cup with his right hand and put his left on my shoulder. I was seven-years-old. “Something’s dead out there,” he said. As he took a sip from his cup, I looked up at him and asked, “Is it Miss Bossy?” Miss Bossy was the name I had given to Poppa’s gentle, tan-colored Guernsey cow. We had raised her from a calf. For the past three or four days, she hadn’t come up to the feed lot. “Most likely,” he said.
We lived on a small forty-acre farm. I sat on the wheel cover as Poppa drove his old International Harvester tractor. It didn’t take us very long to reach the back pasture. Miss Bossy had been dead long enough to bloat. Flies buzzed around the carcass.
I asked, “What happened to her?”
“All living things die,” he answered. “We have to bury her.”
“Why? Why don’t you let the buzzards have her?”
“Because as she decays the soil and the ground water will be contaminated. We don’t know what killed her. She might have a disease that could spread to the other animals. Some diseases can even spread to people.”
I climbed off and watched as Poppa started digging. He had a small back-hoe attachment on the back, and a bucket on the front of the tractor. He made quick work of the hole and climbed down. He attached one end of a chain to Miss Bossy’s back hooves and the other end to the back of the tractor. He climbed back on, pulled the remains into the hole, climbed off, and unhooked the chain. Poppa got back on the tractor and used the front bucket to push the pile of dirt into the hole.
Tired of standing, I sat in the grass and intently observed him as he went about the job. When he finished he said, “Son, let’s go.” I started to crawl back up, but before I could, he reached down and pulled me up. He sat me in his lap. I steered the tractor as he shifted gears and ran the pedals.
When we got back to the house, I asked, “Poppa, why do things die?” He was quiet for a moment. Then he said, “Dying is part of living. The trick is to learn to let the dead stay buried and go on with your life.”
His words, which I didn’t really understand at the time, have stuck with me over the years. I have come to realize the wisdom of an old Oklahoma farmer is echoed in the Gospel. In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul clearly stated the Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died to take away our sins, He rose to defeat death, but why does the Bible emphasize His burial?
In first century Israel, when a Jewish person died, they were embalmed, wrapped in linen, and buried in a tomb. That is what Jesus did with our sins. Paul also wrote in Galatians 2, “I am crucified with Christ…” Not only have we been crucified with Christ, we have also been buried with Christ. Your past isn’t just dead, it’s buried.
The point is: If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, your old life is buried. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, you can be raised to live a new life of victory.
Are you preyed upon by buzzards of guilt? Is the devil buzzing around the bloated carcass of your old life? Does the stench of past sins remind you of the person you once were? Is the disease of your past killing your present?
You don’t have to live defeated. If you are a Christian, your past is dead and buried. Let the dead stay buried and go on with your life.
Pastor James Collins serves at Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. He can be reached at (620) 223-2986, or through the website www.fortscottfsbc.com.