Rev. Mark Buetow
Death. It happens suddenly in a horrible wreck on the highway. It happens slowly over a long battle with cancer. It happens to children in an accident. It happens to someone at the end of a long life. It happens in many ways, but one thing is for sure: Death happens to everyone.
We try to avoid it. Live carefully. Live a healthy lifestyle. Avoid dangerous things. Fight against death with medicine and medical technology. Put death off as long as possible with potions and creams and drugs and surgeries that try to erase the signs of aging. But as hard as we fight, death always wins. At some point, the lotions and potions won't help. The doctors and the drugs and the machines can't do anything else to stop it. Death comes, sooner or later, one way or another.
Well, what about God? We could ask Him to do something about death. But wait! He DID do something about death. He died! Crucified. Like a sinner. He took the curse on Himself. And make no mistake, death is an enemy and a curse. But God did it. He died. Died as if death were His fate too. Except Jesus didn't stay dead. Christ is risen! On the third day after He died, Jesus' tomb was empty! Jesus was and is alive!
What does that mean for death? It means that death is no longer the worst thing ever. It is no longer the final enemy. It is no longer our fate and lot in life and then that's it. Rather, Jesus has made sure that death is turned into a rest. A sleep. A nap. It's no mistake that Jesus once says about a dead little girl that she is "sleeping." It's no mystery that in the early church people who died were said to have "fallen asleep." And Jesus Himself says that He will come again and wake us up and give us eternal life!
The fact is, death has been overcome. Yes, we still die. This world and everything in it is passing away. But Jesus says His Word will never pass away and it's that very Word which promises we shall rise from the dead when Jesus comes again. It's Jesus' very Word which promises that we have an everlasting life awaiting us because He died and then rose again.
This is the Easter season, the forty days starting with Easter in which we celebrate that Jesus is risen from the dead and what that means for us who are dogged by death all the time. It is the promise and hope of a life beyond this life which sometimes ends abruptly or else fades away slowly. When we are sick and suffering and death is close, and on our minds, and at our doorstep, we simply smile and remind death of what Jesus did and that it cannot harm us.
Science and medicine and makeup and exercise and diet and all that can't stop death. Well who can do something about it, then? Jesus did. His own death on Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter are the real, true, and lasting answers to the problem and curse of death. Jesus did something about death. He beat it. And His victory over death is for everyone. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Allelluia!
Created: May 15th, 2012