If you are reading this, you are terminally ill. You may be reminded of a certain gruesome film “The Ring” where a message on a video gave its viewers seven days to live. While the message you have just read does not contain this same power, it is nonetheless true. From the moment of our conception, our time on earth is counting down. Morbid? Yes. Unimportant? No.
For such a universally important topic, death is not something our culture contemplates deeply. Sure, there are reports of death in the papers; there are accounts of murders and tragedies. Films and books are riddled with death. But somehow these deaths seem unreal; for the most part wholly ‘other’ from us. We cannot really imagine a world where we are no longer present. Our whole understanding of the world assumes our own being. In the rare incidents where we do contemplate our own mortality, we are distressed at something that seems so unnatural.
Why do our hearts rebel so much against death? Why do we grieve when a loved one dies? Why do we dread our own mortality? I put it to you that we rebel against death because it is unnatural for us. We are not designed to die. While some may say death is part of the circle of life, our hearts tell us this is not so. Death is an unwelcome intruder – a thief which humiliates us and robs us of our dignity.
Unlike those who hold to an atheistic evolutionary framework where death is an essential part of the world, I believe death is an intruder. As sons and daughters of God, we were created for life abundant. And yet in that garden of perfection our first father rebelled against God and brought death into the world. Since that fateful day, our race has been doomed to death. Our original glory and dignity as image bearers of God has been marred and defaced by our rebellion, and we all must face steady decay until death finally humiliates us.
Yet today is a special day. Today we celebrate the man Jesus who conquered death. Nailed to a cross and left to die, Jesus was the only human being who was not infected with the disease of sin. Jesus did not need to die. Yet he submitted himself to death in the stead of those he loved and desired to save. Death could not own him – for in him was no sin – no trace of rebellion against God his Father. So triumphant he rose from the grave and appeared to many of his disciples - eyewitnesses so committed to the truth of the resurrected Jesus that many would give their lives up rather than deny it in the years that followed.
Why does history so vividly remember this man who conquered death? What is so important about Jesus? Sure there is the amazing fact that he managed to escape death, but the rest of us are yet helpless and will all stare death in the face at some point or other. We remember and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, because he is the first fruits of the dead. The first fruits in a harvest signify a promise of more to come. In the same way, Jesus victory over death is a promise to his people that they too have victory over death.
Though we must still taste death, the sting of death can be taken away. Jesus now holds the keys to death, and we do not pass through the door unless Jesus has opened it for us. Moreover, for those who have been joined to Jesus Christ through believing in his power to save them from their own rebellion against God, Jesus promises that at the end of the world as we know it, they too will be raised to life – with perfected bodies ready to live life abundant in a restored world where death and suffering are banished forever. What hope Easter Sunday brings to us all as we contemplate our own mortality.
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Labels: death, hope