First, it’s a person’s body that’s being buried in the grave, not their soul/spirit. When a Christian dies, their soul/spirit goes to be with the Lord. When a non-Christian dies, their soul/spirit goes to hell.
Philippians 1:21-24 (HCSB) 21 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.
Luke 16:22-23 (HCSB) 22 One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side.
Second, living in heaven with a temporary body and living in hell with a temporary body isn’t our final state. Both Christians and non-Christians will receive resurrection bodies. Christians will live on a new earth for eternity in real bodies that are free from any hint of sin and its effects. Non-Christians will suffer in the lake of fire for eternity because of their unbelief. So our bodies in the grave, whether of a Christian or non-Christian, isn’t our final resting place.
1 Corinthians 15:50-57 (HCSB) 50 Brothers, I tell you this: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption. 51 Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. 53 For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. 54 When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place: Death has been swallowed up in victory. 55 Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? 56 Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Revelation 20:13-15 (HCSB) 13 Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Third, if the grave is our final resting place, then the resurrection of Jesus means nothing for us. The Bible calls Jesus the first fruits of a new creation filled with sons and daughters of God who have been adopted through Jesus into His family. We will be just like Jesus which means our bodies won’t be in the grave forever. If Jesus burst out from the grave, so will we! And what a day that will be.
The grave is a place of sadness for it reminds us that death is a reality as is separation, at least for a time, from loved ones. But the grave doesn’t have the final word…Jesus does. And so, as I’ve read dozens of times at gravesides, let these words fill your hearts with hope…
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (HCSB) 13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14 Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. 15 For we say this to you by a revelation from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly have no advantage over those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.