Death, where is your sting?
(TELL THEM YOU WILL BE MAKING AN APPEAL)
Big camp and the interview with David.
We weren’t prepared for the Big Questions like:
If you were to die, who is to acquire the inheritance?
If you both die at the same time who will take care of your children?
Would you like to donate your organs when you die?
These questions compelled us to make some serious introspection. It’s not everyday we think about these things. In fact, I usually think about how the day will pan out, and I don’t usually play these scenario’s in my head. To think about these things would cause me to become upset, and so we’re told not to think too much on things that make you upset, BUT we need to be prepared for these significant times should they arise.
The Denial of Death
The Denial of Death
I thought it was quite timely that we should consider these things since I had started reading a book called, “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker.
This book won a Pulitzer prize in 1974 two months after Ernest Becker died. How ironic is that?
It’s a fascinating read and in the 70’s argues a case that humans have developed the ability to create a civilisation where we try to avoid thinking or discussing the inevitable deistination of death. In fact he argues that we create narratives for ourselves, namely religion with archetypal heroes or an archetypal hero who defies death and the symbolises everything we wish we could be. I suppose for those of you who were around in the 70’s, you may have noticed that religion began to lose sway in the Western World as science became the new way of addressing every complex problem humans faced.
Becker, however argued that even science was flawed and was unable to deal with the overcast of death looming in the background. Becker makes a valid point that we have been conditioned to avoid considering death, no table talk at dinner should consist of death, and bringing up the subject of death is taboo. But why?
From my discussions with some of you I understand that our own church community has had its fair share of the emotional damage that death causes. At it’s most obvious level, Death brings pain.
The story of Willy and Loma
Playing scenes in my head and saying goodbye to mum and dad
I believe the reason why we fear death is because of how it threatens to cause separation.
The Implications of Death
The Implications of Death
According to the Bible, where does this separation begin?
Let’s begin with . Adam and Eve were created in an eternal relationship with their creator, however their loyalty revolved around the test of one commandment ,. To die therefore was to reverse the process of .
The inference here is that every living breath of created beings is dependent on the “original, unborrowed, underived” breath of life from Jesus Christ. ,
We read that Eve saw that the fruit was good for food, the desire was to know good and evil and to be like God. Adam and Eve both felt the curse of sin as soon as they disobeyed the one commandment.
“After his transgression Adam at first imagined himself entering upon a higher state of existence. But soon the thought of his sin filled him with terror. The air, which had hitherto been of a mild and uniform temperature, seemed to chill the guilty pair. The love and peace which had been theirs was gone, and in its place they felt a sense of sin, a dread of the future, a nakedness of soul. The robe of light which had enshrouded them, now disappeared, and to supply its place they endeavored to fashion for themselves a covering; for they could not, while unclothed, meet the eye of God and holy angels.” Patriarchs and Prophets p57
This nakedness and vulnerability is something we all suffer from because of our subconscious awareness of our frail and sinful condition.
The Bible is clear of what you and me suffer from. We desire or crave to satisfy our every desire. says that the way of the world can be summed up by these three things, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. And we can see this played out in what happened in . The eyes saw that the fruit was good for food, the pride of life wanted to know good and evil, and the lust of the flesh desired to be like God.
Our fleshly, lustful and prideful desires, tune our hearts to take in order serve ourselves, knowing that we have a short amount of time to live, should we fulfill our estimated expected 85 years in Australia.
Get an education to become smart. Do the best in school
Thus for those of us who have been privileged to be born and raised in a western world, we are conditioned to attain the best education, so that we may achieve a successful career in order that we may acquire the best things in life so that we may impart to the next generation to continue the cycle. This is seen as a successful life. And there’s nothing wrong with this.
However, the process of achieving this means we play in the realms of the principles of evolution. “The survival of the fittest.” We end up competing with our fellow man in order to top the class, or get to the desired position in the workplace, and we attempt to acquire material things, including relationships to earn respect and pride. We obsess ourselves in our physical appearances to cover our frail, and vulnerable nakedness. Yet these are only as successful as the fig leaves that Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with.
In this process we become protective of our things, we develop a fear of the possibility of losing these things. And in our compelling need to protect these things, we will do as Sigmund Freud's theorised of flight or flight.
Fear becomes a daily occurrence, fear of what to do when your parents fight, fear of what to do when they split, fear of what your future is after school, fear of losing your job, in every corner, fear looms.....and they are all finely placed tentacles of death.
I submit to you that every fear drives our behaviour. Some of us here have committed our lives to Christ and yet we find ourselves stumbling over that same sin, that habit! My suggestion is that your behaviour is a fruit of being afraid of our destination of death. Some of you have never had the opportunity to commit to Christ and are hearing this for the first time, maybe I’m articulating some things that you’re experiencing, then I appeal to you, get to know Christ and you will understand your situation even more clearer. My proposal this morning is that the manifestation of a life full of fear, is a sinful life in the subconscious understanding that we will eventually die.
But why then are we still here then? Why didn’t Adam and Eve die like God said they would when they ate the fruit? Is God a liar, does He change His mind when his project fails? The Bible says that in Adam and Eve’s nakedness, the skin of a certain animal was killed in order to cover their nakedness. Perhaps gives us a hint as to what type of animal was killed. The author of Revelation says that there was Lamb that was slain at the foundation of the world.
The Implications of Christs Resurrection
The Implications of Christs Resurrection
From the introduction of sin and death, God made a promise to Adam and Eve. The promise in stated that Eve will have descendents and so will the Serpent. But from Eve’s line one would be born that will crush the head of the serpent, but the serpent will only bruise the heel. The best the serpent could do was to give the promised descendent a “sting” but the serpent would be crushed.
From the time of Adam and Eve they were to perform a ceremony to be reminded that a chosen one was coming to reverse the life of fear. As long as they remembered this, they did not have to succumb to the fear that the Serpent attempted to dangle in their face everyday. The basic elements of this ceremony involved a law being broken, the father or the priest carrying out the ceremony, an animal sacrifice and an altar. This ceremonial service was practiced by all who understood their sinful nature and their need of a saviour.
The day finally arrived when a the promise in was implemented, and John the Baptist announced in “Here is the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world!” Jesus Christ, God Himself announced that He was not a liar, and that we would see justice fulfilled by meeting the requirements. The law giver himself would pay the price of sin, death and ultimate separation in order to save His children.
And thus he faced Satan in the wilderness after 40 days of fasting. Satan played the same hand he had refined in studying the human race for the many generations he had studied since tempting Adam and Eve. But on all points where Adam and Even and every descendent thereof failed, Jesus Christ succeeded. And thus the power of sin was broken, but death still hadn’t touched Jesus.
But the prophecy wasn’t false. He was pierced for our transgressions and he was bruised for our iniquities. He died the death of a criminal on death row and yet was not guilty of any crime. The same hands that touched the man suffering from leprosy, that saved a condemned woman from a death penalty now violently nailed to a rough plank of wood. His feet that once walked the grounds of broken places and made them whole, that was washed by a woman that demonstrated tremendous appreciation now gaping with holes driven by the demands of sin. And as his temple was cut open by the crown of thorns, his mind wasn’t occupied by the physical pain, but the thought of you and me accepting the wonderful, and terrible sacrifice of the lamb.
The book of Desire of Ages expresses it this way, “Christ was treated as we deserve that we may be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. 'By His stripes we are healed.”
The fear of death causes separation, but Jesus brings reconciliation.
The Final Victory
The Final Victory
But the story doesn’t end there. Let me explain in allegorical form as I heard it from my favourite preacher.
Grave and Death.
So here is where the rubber meets the road.
Even Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples suffered the denial of death. In he said to Jesus that He would lay down his life, but Jesus responded that before the rooster would cry three times, Peter would deny Jesus three times. And this announcement made Peter’s heart drop. However, Jesus followed through with these inspiring words,
“Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s home, there is plenty of space! If it wasn’t the case, I would never have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go, I will come back again and receive you to myself, so that where I am you maybe also.”
Furthermore he states, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”
says, that eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ. Do you know Jesus?
says, that he came to bring life abundant.
Knowing Jesus is not just life in the ever after, it’s life NOW!
Ernest Becker said that religion was failing to serve the meaning of life, and that science would not be able to hold it. And he was right, the only thing that has given our life meaning is Faith! Faith in Jesus Christ who was and is and is to come!
Faith leaves no room for fear. says that perfect loves drives away fear because death no longer has a hold on us.
It’s not wrong to achieve excellence in education, it’s not wrong to be good-looking and strong, it’s not even wrong to have material things, , says let not the wise man boast it his wisdom, let not the strong man boast in his strength, let not the rich man boast in his strength but let him who boasts, boast about this. That he knows and understands God.
Knowing and understanding Jesus Christ demolishes every attempt of Satan to threaten you with the fear of death. says that this understanding destroys every argument of Satan and brings every thought under submission to Christ.
Christ has conquered the grave! The fear of death causes separation but Jesus’ death brings reconciliation. And his resurrection causes restoration.
Right here and now, if you have allowed fear to run amok in your life, and today you want to say Jesus, I believe in your power over death and sin. Why don’t you stand?
Now if you realise this morning, that you want to know more about Jesus through regular study of the Bible. Why don’t you come forward.
Are you living in fear because you don’t know Jesus?