Three people from my church have died in the past month. One of my co-workers lost a close relative two days ago. My neighbor, who is a wonderful person and a Christian, is dying.
I am grateful that my church follows the calendar of Christ’s life. I am grateful that we talk about Jesus’ death and resurrection every week. I am grateful that the gospel accounts are weighted toward the last week of Jesus’ life (especially Mark who devoted six of sixteen chapters on it).
Why am I grateful? Because the culture I live in lives in denial about death. Even some other Christian churches seem to side-step the issue, preferring a glorious performance over the grounded truth.
It’s the way of the world.
On the other hand, death is enough. Romans 5:12 states,
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned … ”
We stand condemned. The consequence of our sinfulness is death. However,
18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus has no desire to see you or me die. Yet, there is no chariot of fire coming to pick people up and take them home. Instead, we get the ignoble burial that everyone else gets. It’s final, sobering, and a buzz-kill.
But, when we continue reading the second portion of this chapter from Romans, Paul writes about the reign of grace. And, not grace as a word only, but real grace. The forgiving kind. The dying kind. The sacrificial lamb kind.
This only took place one time. It was on a cross outside Jerusalem. The righteous God-man was crucified for all sinful men. Completely.
His death was not the end, though. In the midst of this dying, God the Father poured out His wrath on His own Son. Not because Jesus was so bad, but because we are so evil. Why did God do this?
Because God loves you. And, He loves me.
Death does not have the final word. You and I can rest assured by hearing the words of Jesus, “It is finished“. We can bet on these words. Our death will actually be the birth of resurrection into an eternal dominion of peace, joy and total love. Hope fulfilled. And … the Glory of God. Forever and ever.