Death

Death is not a terminus, that is, a final goal or a finishing point.  Death is a passageway.

Consider the death of Christ.
From the moment He could grasp the thought of it, Jesus’ appointment with the cross dominated His life on this earth.

  • The long years in the home of Joseph and Mary,
  • the days in the carpenter’s shop in Nazareth, and
  • the three and a half years of public ministry all led Him inexorably to Calvary.

Suspended there between earth and heaven by the cruel nails of our sin, Jesus declared “It is finished!”  Then He gave up the ghost and slumped in death, real death: no breathing, with blood no longer coursing through His body but dripping from His wounds.  He did not swoon; He died.  He was not drugged; He was executed.  Faithful friends took His lifeless body down from the cross, prepared it as best they could in the short time they had before the Sabbath, and placed it in a tomb.

It was finished.

But He was not finished.
Jesus’ death was not a terminus, a finishing point.  He descended to the place where those who were faithful to the Old Covenant waited for Him.  Each of their deaths was a passageway from earthly life to the place reserved for them called, Abraham’s Bosom.  In another spiritual location, Satan and his demons danced and celebrated their triumph over Jesus.  In the midst of their revelry, Jesus strode among them, shattering their noise to silence.  The only sound was the triumphal footsteps of the One who had died, but now lived again.

He demanded and received the keys of death, hell, and the grave from the fallen angel Lucifer and exited hell in absolute victory over all evil.  Jesus led captivity captive as He escorted the faithful from Abraham’s bosom to His Father’s presence in paradise.  Moses, Noah, Abraham, Samuel, David, and Isaiah were in that procession:

  • Moses realized the meaning of the lamb’s blood on the doorposts.
  • Noah saw the global saving grace of God in another ark; this one was a man named Jesus.
  • Abraham knew that God had indeed provided a Lamb.
  • Samuel could feel the anointing oil burning as he recognized the Lord’s Anointed One, The Christ of God.
  • David danced before His greater Son and the eternal Kingdom He was bringing.
  • Isaiah saw the scars of the suffering Messiah and knew he was about to enter the throne room of God he had seen centuries before.

Death is no terminus; it is a passageway.

  • Baptism brings another passageway into sight.  We are buried with the Lord in baptism and we are raised with Him to walk in newness of life.
  • We live a crucified life, dead to sin and alive to the Spirit of God.
  • Physical death is the passageway to life eternal, so we do not sorrow as those who have no such hope.
  • As we die daily in surrender to God, we are made alive in Christ.

The questions of Paul become our challenge in the face of the inevitable:

“O grave, where is your victory?  O death where is your sting?”

Death, you are not a finishing point, not at all!  When we meet you, we will simply go on from there!

Scriptures

Ephesians 4:7-10 NKJV
But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says:” When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended” — what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
Revelation 1:17-18 KJV
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
1 John 3:14
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
2 Timothy 1:9-10
This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
1 Corinthians 15:50-57 KJV
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus You faced down our greatest fear—death itself! You seized that old lion by his beard and broke its neck. At Calvary Satan bruised Your heel and in his smoky domain You bruised that Serpent’s head. You disarmed our enemy, robbing him of his greates weapon against us—the fear of death. You reduced the end of life to simply the turn of a page in our story. You have made the passage ahead of us so that those who believe may follow You even there—to life eternal. You robbed death of its sting and plundered the grave of its victory. No one has done what You have done and yet when our time comes the hand we feel will be Yours. The face we see, the voice we hear, and the peace we find, will all be yours. Thank You, Lord. Jesus! Amen and Amen.

Song:
The Victor
Words and Music by Jimmy and Carol Owens

1. Swallowed into earth’s dark womb,
Death has triumphed, That’s what they say.
But tried to hold him in the tomb
The son of life Rose on the third day

Look! The gates of hell are falling,
Crumbling from the inside out!
He’s bursting through The walls with laughter!
Listen to the angels shout!

Refrain:
It is finished. He has done it Life conquered death.
Jesus Christ Has won it!

2. His plan of battle fooled them all.
They led him off to prison to die.
But as he entered Hades hall,
He broke those hellish chains with a cry!

Listen to those demons screaming!
See him bruise the serpent’s head!
The prisoners of hell redeeming,
All the power of death is dead!

Refrain

Look! The gates of hell are falling,
Crumbling from the inside out!
He’s bursting through The walls with laughter!
Listen to the angels shout!

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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