Daily Devotionals

How do we face death?

Pastor Daniel Bramlett

Death is a sobering reality. We look at it as final, dark, incredibly foreboding and scary. We work to press its edges back. We die our hair (or apply ointments to make it grow), bathe in lotion designed to remove wrinkles and spots, suddenly begin to eat healthily as we get older and try to exercise. I’m convinced we do these things to push our existence a little bit longer. But this is not the way death is viewed in the Bible. Is it dark and potentially scary? Yes. Is it the domain of the enemy? Absolutely. Has that domain been conquered? Without a doubt. What does that mean for us? It means that death is far more of an open door than a bottomless pit. It means the stinger has been removed; there is no more threat. The destruction that death promised is being redeemed through the blood of Jesus.

We see hints of this in the Gospels. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, calling the dead man out of the tomb after three days. Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter long after she had been pronounced dead. He brings the widows son back to life as he lay on the funeral bed. But these are just hints. Each of these people still had to face death, just at a later date. But then Jesus started talking about tearing down His Temple (His body) and His ability to raise it up in three days. No one understood. Death was still the dark pit that no one could circumvent. Some had escaped it for a minute, but in the end, it would still swallow us all up. Then Jesus died. 

The cross was the most agonizing moment for Jesus’ followers. They lingered at its base, not able to comprehend the implications that lay in front of them. Their hope was dead. Jesus was more than a leader and even more than a friend. He was their best and brightest hope of a new Israel. He offered them everything they ever wanted and then some. And now He was dead. What would they do? What could they do? They rambled and stumbled through the next few days. Then Mary heard Him call her name. 

Everything changed at the tomb. All of the pain and grief and loss of the cross was lifted. Every tear suddenly was justified. What happens now? They didn’t know but they didn’t care! All that mattered was Jesus was back! The next 40 days were bliss. Suppers, walks, lots of talks…they could have gone on like this forever. But that was never the plan. The intention was for them to take this message of the resurrected Jesus to the world. But one more event had to take place. 

Up to this point everyone who’d been raised was going to die again. Jesus did not have to die again to go to the Father. One day, after all had been said and the work completed, Jesus was caught up in the clouds to be with the Father. He didn’t die! He was seen again by Stephen, by Saul, by John…and that early list is still continuing today, longer than ever. The point is, Jesus defeated death once and for all. The work is done. 

We are not a people who grieve without hope. Every other religion in the world offers to conquer death based on the individual’s good works. This is a fruitless approach. Everyone knows we aren’t good enough to earn God’s favor. On the cross, Jesus took the full consequences of our brokenness; our sin and rebellion against God. All of that has been dolled out. There is zero need for us to try to earn His acceptance anymore. In the tomb, Jesus fought the battle with the enemy and defeated him and death. When He stepped out of that tomb, every claim death had on us suddenly disappeared. We don’t have to fight death or prolong it anymore. In the ascension, Jesus proved everything He had said and then some. The promise of grace has been fulfilled on the cross. The promise of a conquered death was fulfilled in the empty tomb. The hope of life forever is offered as He rose up in the clouds and then He promises to return and call us up in a similar way. This is not a haphazard plan shot quickly from the hip. The work of Jesus on our behalf has been planned since before the foundation of the world. Every detail is perfectly in place for our redemption and freedom. Death is no longer a threat for us.

How does this affect the way you live? Will you choose to put more emphasis on this life than on Heaven? We thank God for our families! Will you live so as to point your families to eternity or toward their finality? Will they ignore death early on because it seems so far away, respect it in middle age as their friends begin to die and fear it late in life as if there hasn’t been enough time to prepare? Or will they live each day as a treasure and move toward the next with anticipation of Jesus coming back and taking them to their real Home? You get to choose today which way you will live. Your choice will affect their choice and their kids’ choices for generations to come. We do not want to leave our kids thinking that we are with Jesus because we were good people and somehow squeaked into Heaven by the skin of our teeth. We want to leave our families (and everyone else for that matter) knowing we are with Jesus because He defeated death and opened the door for us to step in unharmed. Only as we give our lives to Him do we learn to live this way. Which way will you choose?

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