O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? 1 Corinthians 15:55
What is death anyway? Have you ever really thought about it? I have. I sat at their bedsides as my Mom and Kara each died. My Grandfather died when I was about ten. I wasn’t there, but I’m told he sat down in his favorite armchair after Sunday dinner, and fell asleep. I’ve always thought that was the perfect way to go. No pain or suffering, just waking up from a nap in the arms of Jesus.
So what is death? All we really know is what it’s not. No breath, no heartbeat, no brain waves, no life as we know it. But that’s the whole point. We don’t know. And, as humans, we naturally fear the unknown.
Oh, there are a few crazies out there who love to defy death, who only feel alive when they are right there on the edge. But for most of us, we like to say, “Yes, I want to go to heaven. Just not today.”
I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I prefer to think of us as being like caterpillars, living contently in this cocoon called life, and seeing death as breaking through the shell that holds us earthbound. We shouldn’t want to break through before our time, any more than we would want a baby born prematurely. But if we can imagine the amazing new life waiting on the other side, why would we fear death? Where is its sting?
Jesus knew the exact day and hour of his death long before it happened. From the time He was twelve, He had a sense of urgency. He was continuously about His Father’s business because He knew His time was limited. He purposely went to Jerusalem that Passover to die. His words of comfort to His disciples found in John 14 aren’t fear about what was to come after his death. He told them He was going to prepare a place for them where they would forever be with God.
His wasn’t a quiet, peaceful death like my Grandfather’s. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He sweat drops of blood, not for what was going to happen on the other side of the cross, but what was on this side of it. He agonized, just as any of us would, at the pain and suffering He would endure. That suffering was more than we imagine. He took the sin of the world on His own shoulders. He bore God’s wrath because of it. The Father turned His back on Him. That alone was more than enough to crush His heart and make the blood and water separate. His death bought my victory! The grave could not hold Him. Now it won’t hold me either. Of that I have no fear.
We too should live with a sense of urgency. Our time here is limited. Our Father has many tasks designed specifically for us. We need to be about our Father’s business until He calls us home, either through death or Christ’s return. But we need no fear of that day. It’s only a shadow, remember. We stopped being afraid of shadows when we were kids, didn’t we?
Taboo Tuesday Question of the Day: How have you overcome the fear of death?