Mar 16, 2012, 12:42 PM
Death is a phenomenon we shall never get used to. Each time a loved-one, parent or friend dies, death is rekindled in our eyes. We use veiled vocabulary in order to dampen its effect when we talk in terms of 'passed away,' 'departed this world,' 'gone to be with the Lord.' Yet, king Solomon in his writings states "... death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart." (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
Death has become a major stumbling block for human beings and it seems like it just would not go away. Science on the other hand is desperately seeking a 'never-die cure' that would make living a permanent feature in life. With what level of success, is the question?
Death is the result of sin. Prior to their act of disobedience, Adam and Eve did not use that word as part of their vocabulary. However, our Lord Jesus comes on the scene to comfort us about death, He who had been assigned the task of crushing the serpent's head. (Genesis 3:15) The apostle Paul clearly states that death has been swallowed up in victory. We should not be afraid of death no more, because it cannot have a hold on us anymore. It had been vanquished on the cross of Calvary with the blood of the Lamb. It has been dealt a blow that has put it under our feet. Jesus said: "'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies.'" (John 11:25)
The last enemy that God will crush is death. Satan and his cohorts have already been declared dead and Hades has been reserved for them. It is all a matter of time. "For He (Jesus) shall reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death." (1 Corinthians 15:25)
There is therefore no need for one to be frightened by death. Death has lost its sting with the resurrection of Jesus. Death ceases to be a dead-end street but a one-way trap door which opens unto life eternal - by which all who believe will enter. "I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18) Anything that has been conquered need not be feared any longer. A defeated foe can no longer threaten even the faint-hearted. So is death."
Adam and Eve must have brought death into the world but that does not mean all has ended. All who hail from them as our ancestors will die but Christ Jesus will bring them to life again. "For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22) One of the twelve disciples, Thomas, who was absent when Jesus first appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, could not understand that death had its limits and therefore could be conquered. The Jesus he had seen work miracles and even raise the dead, was the same Jesus he had seen die on the cross. He therefore had harboured doubts when his colleagues broke the news to him that Jesus had resurrected like He had said He would. "I lay down my life only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord: I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again." (John 10:17-18) He had replied to his enemies, when asked to show where his authority came from, that he would "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." (John 2:19) He meant by this that he would die and be raised from the dead.
Thomas was a close collaborator of Jesus and he doubted. When the Lord finally appeared to him confirming He was alive again, Thomas was stunned. In awe, he worshipped Jesus: "My Lord and My God," (John 20:28) he declared. I want to think that like Thomas you are harbouring doubts too. Did Jesus conquer death really? Listen to what Paul had to say on the matter. "How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as He has determined, and to each kind of seed He gives its own body." (1 Corinthians 15:36-38) "So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body." (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)
Our bodies will be transformed into something different and we shall be given new bodies, transformed bodies. This earthly body will rot in the grave, returning to the earth from whence it came, but our spiritual bodies will live forever.
Death, the Bible assures us will lose its sting when gulped up for the Lord will comfort us as he dries our tears. Should we worry needlessly? God is in control. "He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces." (Isaiah 25:8)
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." (Revelation 21:4) How ready are we to face death? How comfortable and assured are we in the face of death? If we believe in Christ only because we have life then something is fundamentally wrong somewhere. If our hope is in our Lord Jesus so also should it be in this life and the life after death. "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than ever." (1 Corinthians 15:19)
"For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality." (1 Corinthians 15:52-53)
Because Christ died and rose from the dead, those who believe in Him will also rise from the dead when they die. This is the faith we have in Him. Because our Redeemer lives, we will all see tomorrow.