All the gospel writers tell us that Jesus died on the cross.
Jesus died. The fact is so commonplace it seems strange to even mention it. Almost hollow. Almost as if we've said nothing new or meaningful. But "new" and "meaningful" are two very different things. We're sometimes too accustomed to thinking that meaning comes from newness. Old truths are still true, and therefore still very meaningful. Because a thing is familiar, because we've heard it before, does not mean we can pass it by without reflecting on its meaning.
Jesus died. What can it mean to say the Son of God died? And how should the Christian respond to that news?
The death of Jesus Christ means the death of death itself. The death of death in the death of Jesus Christ also means victory over death for those who trust in Christ as their God and Savior.
What Exactly Is 'Death'?
First, death is a curse.
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Gen. 2:15-17)
Second, death is a wage.
"For the wages of sin is death...." (Rom. 6:23)
Third, the Bible calls death an enemy.
"Death has climbed through the windows and has entered our fortress; it has cut off the children from the streets and the young men from the public squares." (Jer. 9:21) Death is an enemy that stalks us and threatens us. This is why we hate it so. We deserve death because of our sin, but we hate it
"The last enemy to be destroyed is death." (1 Cor. 15:26)
Fourth, death is agony.
"In hell, where he saw he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire'." (Luke 16:23-24)
"But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him." (Acts 2:24)
Fifth, we can speak of both a physical death and a spiritual death.
"As for you, you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air.... We were dead in transgressions..." (Eph. 2:1-2, 5)
Sixth, death occurs twice for unbelievers.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:11-15)
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars---their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Rev. 21:8)
We understand why people fear death and why that fear holds them in chains. Who wants God's cursing judgment? Who looks forward to God repaying them for their sins? Who welcomes defeat at the hands of a ruthless enemy? Who longs to experience unending agony? Who likes to think of a second, spiritual, unending death?
My friend, this is what awaits all those who die apart from faith in Jesus Christ. God has prepared a place of wrath and death and conscious torment for those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord.
So we fear death. We instinctively kick against it and try to push it back. No one apart from the seriously ill or those without their proper senses welcomes death. Death is an unwelcome visitor.
Is There Any Good News?
Yes there is!
When Jesus died and rose again, He destroyed death.
8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life---not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 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. (2 Tim. 1:8-10)
"But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him." (Acts 2:24)
"When the perishable has been clothed with imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory'." (1 Cor. 15:54)
"Death and hades were thrown into the lake of fire." (Rev. 20:14)
When Jesus died and rose again, He also destroyed the one who had the power of death.
"Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death---that is, the Devil...." (Heb. 2:14)
When Jesus died and rose again, He freed those who believe from the fear of death and the mastery of sin.
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death---that is, the devil--- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." (Heb. 2:14-15)
5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin--- 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. (Rom. 6:5-10)
Since Jesus died and rose again, death cannot separate us from the love of God.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life... will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38, 39)
Jesus died. Death is destroyed. Satan, the one who holds the power of death, is destroyed. Death and sin no longer have mastery. Death cannot separate us from the love of God. This is why the gospel, when it is properly understood, floods a man with such delight and boldness in the face of death. This is why Paul almost sings: "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
The death of death in the death of Christ means victory for those who believe in Him. Jesus has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. Eternal life and immortality come to all those who believe that Jesus died and rose again to save sinners. This is the most basic promise of the gospel. We hear this promise over and over again throughout the New Testament. It's an old truth with fresh meaning. Christian, listen to these promises and stand in them. My friend if you are not yet a believer in Jesus Christ, listen to these promises and received them by faith today.
Believers never taste death:
- John 5:24---"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
- John 8:51---"I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death."
- John 11:25---"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die'."
Believers are justified and reconciled through Jesus' death:
- Romans 4:25---"He was delivered over to death for our sins, and was raised to life for our justification."
- Romans 5:10---"...we were reconciled to [the Father] through the death of His Son...."
- Romans 6:3-5---"don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
The curse is removed through Jesus' death:
- Galatians 3:13---"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree'."
Believers are freed from the second death:
- Revelation 2:11---"He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death."
- Revelation 20:6---"Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."
Christian, the death of Jesus means your victory over death. Stand firm in this victory. Let nothing move you or scare you. When you think of yourself or your loved ones and death comes to mind, sing with Paul, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" Rejoice for your last enemy has been defeated. Through faith in the resurrected Lord, you will live forever in His love.
My friend, if you are not yet a Christian, believe on Jesus. Believe his word which promises victory over death and eternal life. Believe He was crucified. Believe He died in your place to suffer your agony and curse. Believe He rose again three days later victorious over death and Satan. Believe that He is coming again to bring His people into heaven with Him. Believe He loves you and the Father loves you and nothing shall separate you from their love. Believe on Jesus and you will be saved from sin and death, Satan and suffering, to live a new life of righteousness and hope through faith in the Son of God. Repent from sin and believe, and you will be saved.
Death is dead. Believers have won. Believe on Jesus.