As my lovely bride and myself keep collecting birthdays we get letters and brochures advertising final resting places and services. Our doctors, who keep getting younger and younger, want to address end of life related health issues. Was it not just a few years ago we graduated High School?
The Jews said to him, Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’
(John 8:52 ESV)
What an offensive remark! A keeper of the words of Jesus will never taste death? How preposterous can you be? Christians die everyday. Throughout history and even today some Christians die for no other reason than his or her confession.
“Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.”
This is a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Christians do not have to die many times before death. We can face death with peace and confidence. The unbelieving world is not that way. Look at the money which is spent in order to stop the process of aging and dying. If one has no hope for anything beyond this life who can blame them?
But even this pales in the face of what Jesus meant.
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
(Hebrews 2:9 ESV)
What Jesus is referring is the fact that he did the death tasting for everyone. This dread need not seize anyone on account of his or her own mortality. It says of Jesus’ resurrection “oh death where is thy sting and grave where is thy victory?” The unbeliever rejects this great comfort in his or her own desire to not have the crucified and risen God. Rather the unbeliever will prefer to deny any existence of the true and living God or manufacture a more suitable god and look for ways to locate it and seek ways to serve it. The truth that Jesus did the tasting of death for everyone makes this dread all the more dreadful and hell all the hellish. It is so unnecessary!
Certainly a man will be concerned about his death and provision for his family. Or that his wife or child would precede him in death. This is love and of course we miss those who depart us and are concerned with their well being at all times. But as for himself he has no need to fear the grave any more than he fears his bed. Those in Christ can trust that his preceding us into death and the grave also means his resurrection is ours.
Trust this good news and live in its peace. Amen. †