Summary: A message celebrating graduating students by reminding them of the God’s great graduation day.
Today is a day of new beginnings. We celebrate our graduates as they turn the page to a new chapter in their life. We celebrate with a brother in Christ who is turning the page to a new chapter in his life as well. It is graduation day.
For our text this morning I’d like to draw your attention to Paul’s second letter to Timothy chapter 4.
2 Tim. 4:6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
I was fairly fortunate in school to never get left behind in school. Each year the teachers passed me on to the next grade. I was never quite sure if it was because I had successfully completed the work to move up, or if they were just thrilled to have the chance to get rid of me. However, I did have some school chums that were not so fortunate. When the day came for us to get our final report cards I would very apprehensively look at mine to see if I graduated to the next grade. I remember the disappointment of a friend of mine that didn’t get to move up.
Then there came the day of high school graduation. I put on my graduation gown, balanced the mortar board hat on my head and sat there with my fellow classmates waiting for my name to be called. Many of my fellow students received awards and accolades for their high school achievements. I did not receive any of those awards or accolades. I did however receive the same diploma they received. I had graduated! Afterward, there were lots of hugs and pictures out on the campus lawn as we celebrated with our classmates and family. There was a lot of excitement surrounding our graduation. None of that excitement will compare to our graduation day with the Lord. There is a great graduation day coming for each of us. On that day those that have trusted the Lord by faith, will put on a graduation robe of white. Instead of a mortar board we will receive a crown of righteousness.
Whenever I’m asked to conduct a funeral service, I always want to know if that person was a Christian or not. The knowledge that a person had put their trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sin determines what kind of service I need to conduct. We have the promise of scripture that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord! (2 Cor. 5:8)
When I’m preaching a funeral for a brother or sister in Christ I know I’m preaching about a graduation to heaven. There is rejoicing going on in heaven when a Christian is called home. There will be sadness as we miss our graduated loved one, but in our hearts we know where they are. They have graduated to be with the Lord.
Paul wrote to us in 1 Thess. 4:
1 Thess. 4:13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
So, whether through the grave or through the air, we that believe that Jesus died for our sin and rose again for our salvation will be gathered to Him in a glorious graduation ceremony!
At the commencement ceremony the school principal stands at the podium and one by one he looks down at the list of graduates. As he sees a name on the list he calls out that name and that student is then given their diploma. Listen to what John wrote from the isle of Patmos:
Rev. 3:5 He who overcomes will… be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.