Here in the U.S. we have this commercial for a Cancer treatment center. A woman appears in an interview, and she talks about the day she received the terrible news that she has a serious form of cancer and that she has two months to live. It must have felt like a big metal door had closed on her expectations of a long life. She knew when she was going to die and how she was going to die. For her, it was a death sentence.
We hope that we will never have to experience this kind of bad news. It is so devastating, so crushing. I think I would have had an emotional implosion after hearing a doctor tell me this.
This story is repeated again and again. And, with modern medical science, the course of some medical conditions can be predicted with relative certainty. ALS, Pancreatic Cancer, and other diseases carry the weight of the world in their pronouncements. They are the final word.
Jesus Christ received such a pronouncement. He knew when, where and how he would die. He knew He would be plucked in the prime of His life. He knew the painful torture he would undergo in preparation for His death. He knew the horror of His future so intensely, it caused Him to sweat blood. “If it is your will Father, take this cup from me … ”
Jesus Christ walked right into His own death. All it would have taken to avoid it was the words of denial that He was the Son of God. It would have been so easy to escape the finality of death on a Cross. Jesus did not escape it, but instead prayed, “not my will, but Yours be done”.
He did not get a reprieve. There was no second opinion. Jesus was falsely accused, tortured, and crucified. Then, He bore the punishment for all of our sin, as the Father was pleased to crush Him. His death was more than the physical end we all face, He experienced the spiritual punishment you and I deserved for all eternity. Jesus died.
The woman who received the news that her life would be cut short received a new word. She got a second opinion. In her devastation, she decides to get a second opinion at the Cancer center featured in the commercial. The following is the response of the doctor from this center:
“He said ‘Peggy we did a lot of tests on you and I never saw one thing stamped on the bottom of your foot that said you were gonna die in two months. You have no expiration date.'”
What incredible news! Going from complete despair and hopelessness to joy and celebration. What a relief! It was probably a euphoric experience for her.
After Jesus died, He was placed in a tomb, and after three days, He was resurrected. He was raised from the dead. His physical and spiritual self were united eternally, a reminder that He bore the psychological weight of knowing all of the Hell he was about to, and in fact experienced. He did this so we will never have to.
On the Cross, the nails driven through Jesus’ hands and feet were the final nails in the coffin for death. He has won the victory! The Cancer Survivor who appears in the ad will live for a while, but she will die, too. Jesus offers her, and you, and me, His resurrection life in exchange for our life of death. On the day we die, He will tell us, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise”! This is the eternal good news that we have no expiration date. And how do we know this? Jesus has put His own Name on our forehead for now and forever. Amen.