Death is the great leveller – we will all die! Rich and poor, black and white, young and old.
Someone once said that nothing is certain in life except taxes and death. Trouble is a good accountant can always find a way round taxes, but we can’t cheat death.
George Bernard Shaw said “the statistics on death have not changed. One out of one person dies.”
Worldwide there are 56.6 million deaths a year – that works out at around 2 per second.
In our summer survey “What hurts the most?” death and bereavement came out second. For one in eight people in this area it’s the biggest area of emotional pain in their lives. Some were specific – loosing a child, watching a spouse die of cancer, seeing friends blown up in battle.
Thanks to Rob Tervet and his “There is Hope” Booklet for much of this material
Does death win?
Science can’t give us an answer for what’s next.
So there are lots of ways we try to cheat death, stop it coming.
Pursuing health and fitness.
We spend billions on health care and keeping fit. Parkrun is growing with numbers of us who have gone from Couch Potato to 5k! Arthur Lydiard the father of modern jogging and an athletics coach used to run 200 miles a week. He was healthy to the age of 87 when he collapsed and died of a heart attack. He couldn’t hide from the inevitability of death
Living in denial
By dancing with death – jumping out of perfectly serviceable aircraft, paragliding or kite surfing. Or just avoiding the subject altogether. Using different words for it – snuffed it, kicked the bucket, shuffled this mortal coil. But try as we might it will still find you.
Apparently Simon Cowell would like to have his body frozen cryogenically just in case, science progresses enough to bring him back “I think it’s a good idea. I have a feeling that if I don’t do it know, I could regret this in 300 years time!”
The apostle Paul talks about our bodies like tents groaning for something more after death.
The last time I camped was attempting to bivoauc with Katie under an ex Army basha. It rained so hard, it was raining horizontally and my sleeping bag was soaked! Our bodies are like tents. They wear out, they sag, they expand, they wrinkle, the joints get creaky, the arteries harden, gravity pulls everything downward, the heart slows down, the eyes grow dim, the teeth fall out, the back is stooped, and the arms grow weary. Our bones break, our muscles weaken. The body bulges in the wrong places. We brag about our strength but a tiny microbe can kill us. Sooner or later we grow old and our bodies begin to break down. Eventually they stop working altogether. No amount of Vitamin C or Siberian Ginseng can change that fact. At best, we can only slow down the aging process; we cannot delay it forever.
it’s not just the thought or fear of our own death that causes many people pain, it’s bereavement. The pain of having lost those close to you.
perhaps the shortest sentence in the English language and definitely the shortest sentence in the Bible is contained in John 11:35 “Jesus wept”
Why? Because his friend Lazarus had just died and the grief of that and loved ones overwhelmed Him emotionally.
Jesus wept and his tears speak to us. Does God care? Jesus wept. Does our pain matter to him? Jesus wept. His tears speak far more than a thousand words of a God who cares, a God who knows you, a God who loves you and a God who weeps.
if you are grieving profoundly now, then those two words are really important. Jesus wept. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. And sometimes we don’t want words. Jesus’ presence and knowing that he is moved with compassion and weeping with you are powerful. He cares for you , He loves you and He weeps with you.
A lot of man struggle with crying. Seeing it as a sign of weakness. You are wrong.
Jesus wasn’t just this nice guy with a halo and a beard, crying with people. He is a warrior who came to fight death and defeat it.
Jesus defeats death the enemy
Death is an enemy. Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth tells is that it is the last enemy.
Jesus came to face down death and defeat it.
He said “i lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”
Some people have chosen when to die, but no one can choose to come to life again. Jesus made that claim- he chose to die, for us, and he chose to rise from the dead – defeating it.
Christianity stands or falls on whether that claim is true. 1 Cor 15:19 “If in Christ we have hope for this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, he didn’t defeat it and Christianity is a pathetic waste of time.
Some argue Jesus didn’t die – he swooned and somehow revived himself in the tomb, pushed the rock seal out of the way and went on his way again. The gospels record a soldier piercing his side with as spear and blood and water coming out – that would indicate the spear pierced the pleural cavity and the heart – certain death.
Some say his body was stolen
The Jews would have produced to silence the Christians if it was them
Same with the Romans
Grave robbers stole burial spices not bodies.
It’s implausible for the disciples to steal it, hide it and then be willing to be martyred for a lie.
Jesus appeared for 40 days, ate, drank, was touched (so no ghosty) to over 500 people, including sceptics and burly fisherman – not the emotionally vulnerable druggies who normally hallucinate.
It all points to the amazing fact that Jesus did indeed rise again from the dead – defeating death.
Apostle Paul comments again”Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting?”
So when it comes to There is hope – death – Jesus cares, Jesus wept and Jesus defeated the last enemy death.
Jesus gives us eternal life
The world’s most well known Scripture verse is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It continues “For God not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only son.”
The message of Christianity is that God loves you. Jesus came to save you not condemn you or tell you off. He came to save you not just from death but eternal death. We need to understand why we need saving!
I trained as a life saver in my twenties. If I threw a life ring to a drowning man they would be grateful and grab it. If I gave one to you know, you’d wonder why!
CS Lewis wrote God whispers to us in our pleasure, but shouts to us through our pain, it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. Death speaks of our plight, our need of a life ring. Why is the world broken? Why are we broken? Death tells us something has gone wrong.
a holocaust survivor went to the trial of the guards responsible for the death of some of his family. When he saw the accused he fell to floor and began to weep. Journalists asked him later if he was overwhelmed at seeing these men brought to justice. He replied, “No I wept because when I saw those men I realised they were just men. Men like me. And I was capable of everything they did.”
We are not just victims of death in need of hope, but rebels who brought death into the world and need rescuing. Death is her ecause of us. Long ago, the first man and woman made a choice that had consequences. It was the same choice we would have made if we had been there and it brought sin and death into the world.
At a funeral I went to this week – one of the speakers said SIN is an acronym for
Shove off God
I’m in charge
Not on your terms.
We all choose to go our way – so much so that the nation’s favourite funeral song is Sinatra’s “I did it my way”
When we live like that we are anything but at peace with God. Yet peace is what we desperately crave.
Katie and I were watching Chopper Rescue the other day which had a section in it where they showed a rescue of seriously injured motorcyclist. You wonder whether he will make it. Then it shows him months later, recovering and recounting the rescue and flight. “I made my peace with God on that flight” he said. The Bible tells us “Be reconciled to God”. Our most important priority, now, not just in a life threatening situation is to be reconciled to God.
The Bible shows God as a loving Father searching out for wayward children to come home.
just now lay aside any thoughts you might have of death and grief for those around and contemplate your own life.
Are you ready to die? Have you made your peace with God? Do you know if you have eternal life?
Jesus came, Jesus wept, Jesus died and rose defeating death for you. You need the life ring that Jesus is offering you freely now.
Earlier I said that the Apostle Paul describes our bodies like a tent – putting your faith in Jesus means that one day you will trade this tent for a building! 2 Cor 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands
Death is not the end, death is not reincarnation, death is not evaporation, death is not annihilation. Death is meant to be a trade in. Christianity offers abundant life now that goes on into eternity. One day believes well trade in their broken down bodies for a new body.
We live in broken bodied in a broken world. God has broken in and offers reconciliation with him, hope and a better place. Eternity where there is no more cancer, no more abuse, no more crime, no more pain, no more tears, no more sickness , no more death. Many people fear death.
This morning if you haven’t believed in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Come to Him!
Acts 3 tells us “Repent therefore and turn to him so that your sins may be blotted out”
Earlier I said SIN stands for Shove off God, I’m in charge, Not on your turns. Repentance means to change your mind about that. To turn from that kind of thinking to Jesus and trusting that the cross and resurrection is enough.
He will take away your sin
He takes away your fear, especially of death
He makes you a new creation – far more than a second chance, a new nature within.
He transforms your mind day by day – getting rid of teh rubbish and putting in joy and hope
Then one day he will trade in the tent and you get to be with Him forever – no more pain, no more tears, no more death!
Come to Him this morning