Jesus said: We need not fear death

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By Al Earley

Most people are scared to death of death.  That may be a silly statement, but it is true.  Look at all the lists of what scares people the most.  Death is number one.  We feel death’s presence when we enter or leave a hospital, so most people try not to.  We reflect on mortality every time we go into a funeral home, so people rarely do.  We see death on the nightly news every night, and we try not to relate, not to take it personal, but it is.  It is very personal.  

We can try to cheat death, with our exercise programs, our diets, our attempts to reduce stress in our lives, but at best we only postpone death’s arrival in our lives.  In our honest moments we know we are going to die, so we just aren’t honest with ourselves very often.  

Then we have the Easter message.  The angel tells the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again’ ” (Luke 14:6-7).

Jesus had no patience for death.  Whenever he encountered death he just couldn’t sit still.  He had to act.  Don’t look to Jesus to find out how to act at a funeral.  Jesus couldn’t watch a funeral and do nothing.  He ruined every funeral he showed up at, so to speak.

 In Luke 7 Jesus walks upon a funeral procession.  The grieving woman has buried her husband, and is now burying her son.  Jesus says to her, “Don’t cry.”  That is not very good pastoral care unless you can do what Jesus did next.  He tells the dead son to stand up, and of course he does.  What a precious gift to give to this grieving widow, to give her back her son.  

Yes, we may cry at funerals, but our tears should always be for ourselves, not for the loved one who is gone.  We will experience grief and sadness at losing someone dear to us, but we can trust them to the one who cheats death in our lives as surely as he cheated death that day with the grieving widow.

Then in Luke 8 Jesus is confronted by Jairus, a leader in the synagogue.  Can you imagine what he must have gone through to swallow his pride to seek Jesus?  He has one daughter, and she is dying.  He must have thought to himself, “Who cares what the other Pharisees think, it is my daughter.”  Death has a way of making us pause and reflect on life differently.  While he and Jesus are on the way to his home they find out that she has died.  Jesus keeps going and when they  arrive he announces that she is just sleeping.  They know she is dead, and laugh at him.  He takes the parents into the room and tells the little girl, “child, get up,” and she does.  What a precious gift to give to this father, to give him back his daughter.  

And then there is Lazarus, in John 11.  Lazarus is dead and buried for four days.  Martha proclaims that if Jesus had only been there Lazarus would still be alive.  Jesus tells her, “Your brother will rise again…  I am the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes will never die.”  Then they go to the tomb, and Jesus has them roll away the stone, and calls Lazarus out.  After four days in the tomb it must have been a rather gruesome scene, but Lazarus comes out very much alive.  What a precious gift to give to two sisters, to give them back their brother.  

Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  His resurrection is not such a great miracle.  He raised others from the dead at least three times that the Gospels tell us about.  It is confirmation that the son of God, who died for the sins of the world, is not dead, but risen to rule the world.  

Are you afraid of death?  Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior?  Do you understand why Jesus’ life, death and resurrection take away any reason for us to fear death?  God gives us promises in the Bible that take away the need to fear death.  It is probably wiser to fear life without Jesus.  Have a Happy Easter!