On September 19, 2022, millions around the globe had an opportunity to see the funeral service of Queen Elizabeth II on television. She reigned the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth for seventy years. The funeral service was majestic and was conducted with regal décor and precision. Queen Elizabeth II was formally addressed as “Elizabeth II, in full Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, officially Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”
During Queen Elizabeth’s coronation seventy years ago, the Archbishop of Canterbury presented her with a Bible and said: “To keep your Majesty ever mindful of the Word of God, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.” Those words of exhortation never left the queen, and they remained her guiding light in her personal and public life. Despite all her titles, power, and majesty, Queen Elizabeth II never forgot that she was nothing more than a sinner saved by grace in the sight of God. Her life was a testament to Christ’s forgiveness to all who come to Him in faith, rich or poor. In 2011, she said, “Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith; it can heal broken families, restore friendships, and reconcile divided communities. In forgiveness, we feel the power of God’s love.”
When her day was done, Queen Elizabeth was recalled by her maker. She could not extend her life, not even for a second. As I reflected on the impermanence of life, a passage from the book of Psalms came to my mind. There we read: “For no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave. Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind” (Ps. 49:8b–10 NLT). No amount of money can one give to God for the ransom of their life. Death is the great equalizer, and whether one is rich or poor must heed the summons of God when it comes. Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26 ESV). The answer: nothing!
Though one cannot buy eternal life, one can inherit it because God in Christ has paid the ransom for such life to all who trust Him. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 ESV). Jesus paid the ransom for our eternal life by offering His impeccable and sinless life on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21; John 3:16). He is the only way to eternal life, whoever you are— Queen Elizabeth II, Elon Musk, or the homeless in your city. Only God in Christ can redeem one’s life from the power of the grave to enjoy the bliss of eternal life granted to everyone who calls on the name of the Lord in faith.
When empress Zita of Austria died, six black horses pulled her coffin to the famous Capuchin church. There they enacted a long-standing tradition. A funeral party member knocked at the church’s closed door. A voice from within asked, “Who goes there?” The man who knocked on the door read aloud the titles of the queen: queen of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slovenia, Galicia, queen of Jerusalem, and so on. The priest from within the church replied, “I do not know her.” The man knocked on the door again. Again the voice from within asked, “Who goes there?” Again the queen’s titles were read:” Zita, empress of Austria and queen of Hungary. Again the reply from within was, “I don’t know her.” A third time the man knocked at the door. Again the question was, “Who goes there?” This time, no titles were read. The answer was simply, “Zita, a mortal sinner.” A welcoming voice came from within, saying, “Come in,” as the doors were opened.
This traditional enactment signified that even for Empress Zita, the way to inherit eternal life would have been to confess her sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The way to heaven for you is also to acknowledge that you are a sinner, repent, and believe in Jesus Christ regardless of who you are. I pray you will respond to the call of God and surrender your life to Christ today.