1 Thessalonians 4:13
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not…
I. THOSE WHO SLEEP IN JESUS DIE CONFINING IN HIS PROTECTION. We all know how pleasantly one goes to sleep when he enjoys the friendship, and can confide in the protection of those about him. In such circumstances the mind is unbent, the spirit soothed and tranquillized, and we give ourselves up to rest with peculiar confidence and satisfaction. We know that however profoundly we may slumber, however completely we may be wrapped in insensibility, our safety will be secured. As a familiar illustration, place a child in the arms of a stranger, and however inclined to sleep it may have been before, it becomes instantly aroused; discomposed and terrified, it cannot trust itself to sleep in such a situation. But transfer it to the arms of its mother; let it lay its head on the familiar bosom, and feel itself under the reassuring smile of maternal tenderness, and ere long its fears subside, and its eyes calmly close in the consciousness of safety. We are all children thus when we come to die. Every child of God has a long sleep to take. When the short wintry day of life is over, the night of death closes in and darkens around us. But the Christian knows with whom he is to take his rest: he falls "asleep in Jesus." He is not in the hands of strangers, whose dubious character and unknown intentions might fill him with alarm, but in the sweet custody of a fast and faithful friend. He has long trusted his soul to Jesus, and now, in the hour of death, he is not afraid to trust his body to Him. He may not depart singing a song of victory; but as he has lived by faith, and not by sense, so now he dies in faith.
II. THOSE WHO SLEEP IN JESUS ENTER INTO A STATE OF PERFECT REPOSE. There is something revolting to nature in the associations of "the house appointed for all living"; but the grave wears no aspect of gloom or horror to the believer in Christ Jesus. To him it is simply the tabernacle for a night of that "flesh" in which, "at the latter day," he shall "see God"; a tabernacle, moreover, endeared and hallowed by the fact that his Redeemer occupied it before him:. "There laid they Jesus"; and though the sepulchre did not permanently retain Him, He was yet long enough its tenant to strip it of every gloomy association — to season it, if we may so speak, and render it a sweet and grateful resting place for the dust of his sleeping saints. When the Christian is laid in the grave he is consigned to consecrated ground; he occupies "the place where the Lord lay"; and the marshalled hosts of heaven are the guardians of his rest. But where is his soul while his body thus rests in sacred and dignified repose? "Absent from the body," it is "present with the Lord."
III. THOSE WHO SLEEP IN JESUS REST IN HOPE OF A JOYFUL RESURRECTION. When a man of sound body and mind retires to rest with a good conscience, and with his heart full of a great event which on the morrow is to crown him with honour and happiness, how light and airy his slumbers are! how vivid and lifelike the pictures which his buoyant fancy paints for him of the joys which await his waking! Thus it is, so far as the illustration is apt and adequate, with the man who "sleeps in Jesus." He commits himself to the grave full of glorious anticipations; and exulting in the assurance, that as certainly as morning succeeds night in the natural world, so the morning of resurrection shall succeed the night of the grave; and then "this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality." It is this glorious prospect, set before the saint in the act of dying, and contemplated by his living spirit after death, that lights up the darkness of the narrow house, and reconciles immortal man to his present mortal destiny. He fixes his eye upon this, till his soul realizes it in all its interest and grandeur, and with his heart swelling with triumph and overflowing with joy, he exclaims — "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God!"
(J. Young, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.