The impact of Jesus and Christianity on the world has been profound in many obvious and subtle ways.
An obvious example is the reckoning of time in terms of B. C. (i.e. “Before Christ”) and A. D. (i.e. Anno Domini—“in the year of our Lord”=the birth of Jesus). How years, decades, centuries, and millennia are now recorded is clear proof of the gospel’s powerful influence.
The creation and use of the word “cemetery” are subtle, yet powerful, proofs. Before Jesus’ resurrection, human language gloomily reflected the final act of a person’s earthly life with such words as “graveyard” or “monument”. Among the pagans of yesteryear, their language concerning the place where a deceased loved one was buried carried no suggestion of hope or comfort. It was the burying place, a hiding place, a memorial to someone who had succumbed to the ever-victorious conqueror called “Death”. What a vicious sting death has; what a bitter defeat it inflicts.
Christ’s view of death as sleep (John 11:11, 14), His historic resurrection in conquest over Death and Hades/Sheol (Revelation 1:18), and the hope He offers because He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25) have spawned the word “cemetery”—i.e. “the place to lie down to sleep”.
The body of a loved one is not placed in the bosom of the earth to acknowledge the cessation of our beloved’s existence. No, the body is planted in the earth (1 Corinthians 15:42-44) as a place to lie down in rest (Revelation 14:13). It is a place to sleep until Jesus comes to waken all who are in the grave (John 5:28). They are entrusted to a place to lie down to sleep.
Oh how I love the word “cemetery”.