Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Conquest of Death

In my younger days (early 20s), I had a job putting up insulation on the roof of a building. I leaned over too far and slipped, falling 20 feet onto ceiling joists. I broke 5 bones, including the bone of my upper right leg (the femur, for those who know medical terms). I ended up in the emergency room with my bone marrow running around my blood vessels and the doctors being afraid it might lodge somewhere and be life-threatening. At one time they thought (as it turned out incorrectly) that I had a ruptured spleen and were going to operate to fix it. 

I did not know how serious that was (I understand not terribly serious), but I remember thinking, “What if I go under the anesthesia and do not wake up?” The best way I could describe my experience is I looked death straight in the face and he blinked. I realized that even if I died on that table I would go home to be with Christ.

I could have that kind of confidence because I know the One who conquered death. The world is full of moral teachers, those who tell us how we ought to live. The world is full of philosophers, those who speculate on what the world is like. The world is full of prophets, who start new religious systems by which we can try to reach God. But there is only One who is seriously claimed to have conquered sin and death. The Apostle Paul, speaking to a hostile audience (one that denied the resurrection), claimed there were more than 500 witnesses to Jesus Christ having rose from the dead and he could produce most of them (1 Corinthians 15:1-14). Now we do not have these 500 witnesses, but if Paul was making this up, it is the most colossal bluff of all history and no one seems to have called him on it. As Frank Morison points out in his book, “Who Moved the Stone,” the Christian church started in Jerusalem, where anyone could check out the story and see the tomb was really empty. The exact place of the tomb is not clear today, as there are two contenders, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Garden Tomb. But neither are so far away someone could not walk over and check them out.

The bottom line is that Christ has indeed conquered death and sin and, as a bridegroom, has gone to prepare a place for His bride (John 14:1-4). If we are those who have trusted in Christ (Romans 4:4, 5), we are that bride. And we can face death with confidence as what it is, merely the doorway to a better and more permanent life (Philippians 1:21).

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