Sirens scream, colored lights flash. A distant vehicle is zooming less distant by the milli-second. Is it an ambulance? … a police car? … a fire-truck maybe? Oh, I see it clearly now: never mind, it’s just a hearse! But wait: since when does a hearse sport siren and flashing lights?
And just why don’t hearses have sirens and flashing lights? What’s that? Yes, come to think of it, perhaps the condition of their passengers is a factor in the matter! Or more to the point: the impotence (powerlessness) of any living soul to alter that condition is definitely a factor.
Ironically, the reason that ambulances do sport sirens and flashing lights is because of that same impotence. Indeed, time is of essence! For if the ambulance passenger arrives alive at the hospital, somebody can perhaps do something to keep him from dying. But alas, the world’s ablest doctor can’t do much for the victim who turns up “dead on arrival.”
Consider then, that the Bible account of Luke 7:11-16 is not about flagging down an ambulance and performing some dramatic life-saving procedure upon the critically injured occupant. Rather, Jesus halts a funeral procession and addresses the dearly departed. The dead boy comes to life, at which point funeral services are terminated for obvious reasons. Jesus Himself would soon afterwards die, and would with great power arise from the dead (John 10:17-18; Acts 2:24). As the resurrected Christ puts it, “I have the keys of death…” (Rev 2:18).
Hear His promise: “Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)
But there’s more. The Great Physician can give life to the dead in more ways than one. For unlike the most skillful surgeon on earth, Jesus can extricate deadly sin from the soul (Matt 9:1-13). He can give life and hope to the spiritually dead (John 5:25; Eph 2:1, 5). It was in order to qualify for this saving role that He Himself died (Heb 5:7-9). As worded in Hebrews 2:14-15, Jesus was willing to die: “that through death he might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Thus, persons who are dead in sin may be baptized into Christ in order to die to sin and be resurrected to spiritual life: “having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…” (Col 2:12-13).
The fastest ambulance can’t save you from the second death. Jesus alone can manage that (Rev 2:11; 20:14). So, whether you should find yourself riding as passenger in an ambulance or in a hearse, make sure that you have Jesus with you! – J.P. Simons