Posted by: Drew Van Gorder | 07/10/2014 | 10:41 pm
I’m afraid to die and I’ve never quite gotten over the fear of death, nor do I think that I will in this lifetime. If you’re a Christian, then you’ve been told your entire life that when you die, that you’ll go to heaven. When you’ve been told this, you’ve been comforted and thought that maybe death isn’t going to be that bad…but then you think to yourself, “But how do I know that I’ll go to heaven? Is heaven even real? If it is, how do I know that I’ll get in?”
These thoughts plague the deepest parts of the mind much as the shadowed area on a warm day covers a patch of snow and prevents the evidence of a winter’s chill from melting away. Even during the brightest patches of our lives, each of us considers that it is both fleeting and ever so temporary. Death awaits every one of us from the rich to the poor and from the happiest of individuals to the most melancholy. No matter what type of happiness we find, the truth looms overhead, “You will die.”
Some would say that they fear the act of dying, but not death itself…but how can they say that? No one in our lifetime has ever met another individual who has managed to cheat death or died and come back to life (aside from a few stories from hospitals where someone was dead for a matter of minutes but was brought back). This is why meditating on Christ is so very important.
When Christ brought back Lazarus back from the dead in the gospel of John, chapter 11 Lazarus had been dead for four days. Imagine seeing Lazarus rising from the grave when our Master simply commanded him, “Lazarus, come out!” Even death must obey the King of kings and the Lord of lords! At his most simple command, four days of decay were reversed and Lazarus was as if he’d been alive the whole time. But this isn’t the truest measure of the power of Christ.
Christ himself, when he perished on the cross perished around three in the afternoon (Matthew 27:45) and he was not taken down from the cross until shortly before or around the time it was evening which most scholars place around six at night. Jesus would have been on the cross, hanging dead for nearly three hours when Joseph of Arimathea (a wealthy disciple of Christ’s) came to take him down. Rigor mortis takes about 2-3 hours to begin to set in and so when Joseph took Jesus off the cross, Jesus would have been stiffened by this process of decay. But it doesn’t end there because then Christ raised himself from the dead.
In John 2:19, Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” So, if this Messiah is able to raise others, but more importantly is able to raise himself from the grave, maybe death isn’t as fearful a thing as we’ve thought it to be because we know him who has power over even death. It is only after we have truly understood Christ’s power that we can echo Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” Although we may still fear death, we know the one who will not allow us to remain in its icy cold grip.