In the last couple of weeks we have seen the deaths of several celebrities: David Carradine, Ed McMahon, Farah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, and Billy Mays. Needless to say, this has been a very pronounced reminder of the certainty of death. The harsh reality is that regardless of education, race, gender, age, or social status, everyone will die (Gen. 5). In this regard, death is no respecter of persons. It has been said that “Death comes equally to us all, and makes us all equal when it comes.”
Since death is such a harsh reality, many seek to ignore that it is coming. In my own life I have found this impossible to do. Because one of my brothers died when I was eleven and both of my parents died when I was in my mid twenties I have frequent thoughts about death. This is not something I am alone in. Thinking about death has been the practice of some of the most significant figures in church history:
Jonathan Edwards stated in his ninth resolution, “Resolved, to think much on all occasions of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.”
Charles Spurgeon said, “If death comes to me as a stranger, I may be startled, but if I have prepared myself to receive him, he may come and knock at my door and I shall say, I am ready to go with you, for I have been expecting you all my life.”
It is good to think about death because of the immense spiritual benefits it can produce. Let me mention a couple:
1. Thinking about death makes us realize the brevity of life which should result in humility and soberness (Job 14:2; Pss. 39:4; 90:12; 102:11; 103:15; Eccl. 12:13-14; Isa. 40:6-8; James 4:13-15).
2. Thinking about death should make us think about the only one who conquered death, the Lord Jesus Christ. During His earthly ministry Jesus demonstrated His power over death by raising people from the dead (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43; Luke 7:11-17; John 11:1-46). But more importantly, Jesus demonstrated His power over death when He Himself rose from the dead.
As much as the death of Christ did not make sense at the time, the Apostles eventually came to understand that His death brought an end to death. The Apostle Peter said…
“But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death,
since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power (Acts 2:24).”
The resurrection of Christ was not only the end of the agony of death for Him, but for everyone who would receive Him as Savior and Lord (Rom. 10:9). One of the most profound statements about the death of death was written by the Apostle Paul…
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:55-57).”
An equally profound statement was made by Christ Himself…
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die…(John 11:25-26).”
This is not a promise of escaping physical death itself. Rather it is a promise of deliverance from the ultimate penalty of death (which is hell) and the gift of eternal life which will be experienced to the highest degree at the time of death (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21-23).
Consider two concluding verses that speak so powerfully about the death of death…
“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14).”
“And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away (Rev. 21:4).”
Praise be to God who has brought about the death of death in the death of Jesus Christ!