Friday, January 22, 2021

Death or Life?


All photographs courtesy of Unsplash

For weeks now we watched the statistics about coronavirus deaths and infections mounting up. They are terrible to think about, and we long to hear of the numbers reducing and eventually disappearing. Worldwide, it is hard to take it all in, and what the eventual totals will be is hard to imagine.


The authorities need the statistics to map out the progress of the disease, and from their viewpoint, it’s the numbers that matter. But behind the numbers, there are mountains of grief because each one in that total was someone’s close relative, someone’s dear friend, a life cut short unexpectedly. 


Although the numbers are dreadful, death from coronavirus is relatively rare. Most people recover with, or even without, medical intervention. But we know only too well that death is not rare. In fact, it is the one thing that we will all have to face sooner or later in the normal course of events. It’s strange to say it, but death is a fact of life. We often say we are in the land of the living, but we are in the land of the dying! But there is a real land of the living where death is unknown. It is called heaven.


Death is a horrible invader here. When God created the world, death was absent. But because of the sin and disobedience of our first parents, death arrived and the whole human race has inherited it, Romans 5. 12.  The Bible says, ‘it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgement,’ Hebrews 9. 27. No one can avoid death or the sadness it brings.


But there was one Man who came into the world on whom death had no claim, for He was totally sinless. Yet, amazingly, He died on a cross one day outside the city walls of old Jerusalem. His enemies (for He had many) had plotted His death, but His death was not an accident or a mistake. It was God’s plan to deal with the great problem of our sin and all its sad consequences.


When our Lord Jesus died, some people thought He was defeated, dead and gone. But to their consternation, He rose from the dead after three days in a tomb. Death had been defeated, and so when we put our trust in Christ, we are given eternal life and our fear of death is taken away, Hebrews 2. 14-15. Eternal life is not having an endless existence in this troubled and broken world. It is the blessing of having God’s life in our souls now and continuing to live in God’s presence beyond the portal of death whenever that may come our way.


But although death was defeated, it is very evident these days that death is not yet destroyed. It pursues us all and will do so until Christ comes again in triumph and in glory. The ‘last enemy’ of God and man which was defeated at the cross will then be destroyed forever. Then ‘death will be swallowed up in victory,’ 1 Corinthians 15.26; 54.


What a bright and blessed future we have!


Away far beyond Jordan, we’ll meet in that land, oh won’t it be grand!

Away far beyond Jordan, we’ll meet in that beautiful land!


If you get there before I do, look out for me, for I’m coming too!

Away far beyond Jordan, we’ll meet in that beautiful land!


The blind hymn-writer Fanny Jane Crosby (1820-1915) put it this way -


Far, far beyond the storms that gather

Dark o’er our way,

There shines the light of joy eternal,

Bright in the realms of day.


There shall sorrow, pain and parting

Grieve our hearts no more.

Soon, soon we’ll meet beyond the river,

Safe on the home-land shore.


Written by Bert Cargill, Scotland used by kind permission



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