Ain’t No Grave!

As I was thinking about what I was going to share for the Easter morning service, I had the song, “Ain’t No Grave” on my mind. Then I get a call from my brother. He’d gone to the doctor for some medical issues and found out he has six months to a year to live. The heavy toll of old age (he’s 72), hard living (heavy drinker and smoker), and the  Vietnam War (agent orange) are all finally catching up with him. 

We had a good long talk and made plans to get together. But what’s relevant here is that this particular song had been on my heart and mind before I got the call. I don’t think this was just a coincidence! The following rendition (video below) is sung by Molly Skaggs. It’s an adaptation of an old gospel song by Claude Ely (with additional lyrics). Ely describes composing the song while sick with tuberculosis in 1934 when he was twelve years old. His family prayed for his health, and in response he spontaneously performed this song (source: Wikipedia).

This all speaks of our mortality. Our frailty. As the Scripture says about this life:

The grass withers, the flower fades,
Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isa.40:7-8 NKJV)

After talking to my brother, I thought about the significance of the lyrics of this song and what they mean to me…and to all of us. If this life is all that we can hope for, the news I received would be unbearable, even heartbreaking. There’s no hope in death. We live, struggle, and then die. That’s it. No justice. Just the grave.

But it’s not the end if our hope is in Christ! While it will still be hard for me to let him go, and I will grieve when that day eventually comes, that’s not the end of the story! I will see him again…but with no pain, no addictions, no cancer, no sickness. Just endless joy and fellowship. THAT’S the good news that brings great joy!

This is the central message of the Christian faith. This is the Easter message. When Jesus died, we died, when He was buried, our sins were buried with Him. When He rose from the grave, we rose with Him. He has defeated sin and death forever!

I shared this Eastern Orthodox painting on the resurrection in a previous post about the atonement, but it really say it all. It shows Jesus standing on the gates of hell, pulling Adam and Eve up with Him. That’s you and me!

This is something to shout about! The end of this life is not the end of your life. Jesus is alive and you’re alive in Him! Death does not get the final say. Jesus defeated death in the grave! Beloved, live for Him and in Him. Your life matters, and no matter what this life may bring, or when it ends, you win!

While everything else may fail, His love never fails!

Here are the lyrics, as adapted and sung by Molly Skaggs. This song is an anthem to the victory in Christ we proclaim:

Oh, shame is a prison as cruel as a grave
Shame is a robber and he’s come to take my name
Oh, love is my redeemer, lifting me up from the ground
Love is the power when my freedom song is found.

There ain’t no grave
Gonna hold my body down
There ain’t no grave
Gonna hold my body down
When I hear that trumpet sound
I’m gonna rise up outta the ground
There ain’t no grave
Gonna hold my body down

Oh, fear is a liar with a smooth and velvet tongue
Fear is a tyrant, he’s always telling me to run
Oh, love is a resurrection and love is a trumpet sound
Love is my weapon, I’m gonna take my giants down

Oh, there was a battle, a war between death and life
And there on a tree, the Lamb of God was crucified
And He went on down to hell, He took back every key
He rose up as a lion and He set all captives free!

Oh, if You walked out of the grave, I’m walking too….

Ain’t No Grave
By Claude Ely | Jonathan Helser | Melissa Helser | Molly Skaggs
© 2018 Bethel Music Publishing

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Cor.15:51-58 NKJV)

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 38 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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12 Responses to Ain’t No Grave!

  1. hawk2017 says:

    Amen. The grave could not hold our Savior and will not hold us. Look up.;)

  2. AfroLatino says:

    Hi Mel

    Happy Easter to you and your family.

    May the power that raised Christ from the dead make your brother whole in Jesus’ name, Amen.

    God bless.

  3. Great song, Mel. He is risen indeed!

    So sorry to hear about your brother. Somebody smart once told me, “you know who hates death and separation even more than you do? Jesus!” Some part of me never really understood that, it didn’t really resonate. He gave His all to rescue us from the grave.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks, IB, I think resurrection weekend is probably the best time to get this kind of news.
      And what you said is very true. Jesus raised Lazarus and God showed us what He thinks about death when He raised Jesus from the grave. This life is actually very short in the scheme of things, and our body may eventually fall apart, but this is just a blip on the radar screen and we’ll get a new body, too! 🙂

  4. Cindy Powell says:

    Amen–love that song. “If He walked out of the grave, I’m walking too…” Such truth! Sending prayers for your brother–that every moment left would count and that everything yet to be accomplished in and through his life on this side, will be accomplished, and that your time with him will be fruitful and sweet. Many blessings to you~

  5. Sorry about your brother, my friend. I pray for peace for the entire family as well as God’s healing.

  6. Lily Pierce says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your brother, Mel, but you managed to use it to create such a hopeful post. Love the song also, wow! Thanks for sharing.

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