Death… There is nothing I hate more than death. I try and avoid death as much as I can, so much so I am avoiding writing this lesson because I do not want to deal with this topic of death. Confession time: I have credited my lack of time for not writing this lesson (I am way past the due date), but when I saw I was given this assignment I was horrified because I knew I would have to deal with death. Confronting death, whether it is a 96-year-old lady who has lived a full life or the tragic loss of a child, is something for which no one can adequately prepare. I know you might be thinking, "Well are you not a pastor and are you not trained in helping people deal with death?" My answer to that is that no one can prepare for death. People may say, “Well we have had a lot of time” or “we knew this was coming,” but these responses still do not take away the pain that death causes. We are going to go on this journey dealing with death together. Please feel free to cry, laugh, or whatever you do in a time of grief as we tackle the heavy issue of death.
Pastor Levi Lusko, author of Through the Eyes of a Lion, Facing Impossible Pain; Finding Incredible Pain, writes of the feeling of losing one of his children, “Even when you know your child is in Heaven, it still hurts like Hell.”
Who comes to mind whenever you think of death?
How do you deal with death?
John the Baptist’s death was a tragic and sudden death. What started as him confronting Herod for marrying his brother’s wife ended with his head on a platter. There are many more details to the story. Read Matthew 14:1-12.
Who was Herodias and what part did she play in the story?
What fear did Herod have?
How did John the Baptist die and what were the circumstances for his death?
Why do you think Herod grieved over John?
1 Corinthians 15:26 says, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
John the Baptist’s death resonated all around the Christian world. Jesus described John as the greatest man ever born of a woman, and his life came to a quick conclusion. His death most certainly created fear among many Christians. So we ask the question, “WHY?” This is the most common question asked when it comes to death. “Why did this happen? Why so young? Why didn't I do this or that?” All are valid questions. They are often asked with tears in our eyes and rips in our hearts. We were designed to hate death. Death is our enemy and represents the opposite of Jesus / life. You can ask all the questions you want, but it is not until you grasp the concept of death, and what Jesus did with it, that you can truly deal with it. The apostle Paul gives a great look at death and how we should deal with it.
1 Corinthians 15:50-57 says, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
How do these verses give you comfort in death?
Where and when did death enter into the world? Hint: Read Romans 5:12-21.
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
How does one gain victory over death?
Hebrews 2:14-15 adds, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
John 5:24 continues the thought, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
Jesus, the Son of God, humbled Himself and stepped out of Heaven to become a man. He lived a perfect life and paid our debt by dying on the cross for our sins. The wages for our sin should have been death, not just physical but eternal death, and yet when Christ went to the cross, He paid that wage for us. Because He was sinless, only He was worthy to pay that debt. He took death on Himself and conquered it when He rose from the grave three days later. Death could not hold Him! Acts 2:24 says, “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.” For that, we can be eternally grateful!
We are all going to experience death at one point, and it will never be easy. Even Jesus struggled with physical death. Check out John 11:35 (the shortest verse in the Bible). Here we see Jesus experiencing a similar emotion that we do in dealing with death, “He wept.” Even though He knew that in a few minutes He would pull off a super sweet miracle and bring Lazarus back to life in a way that would make David Copperfield applaud, He still felt that sting of death. Death may seem like a painful ending, but it does not have to be. Jesus has given us the victory over death, and it does not have to be the finish line. I can tell you there are a few people I look forward to seeing when I walk through the pearly gates, and I am sure there a few you are looking forward to seeing as well. VICTORY sometimes hurts, yet the finish line is going to be incredible. Paul sums it up at the end of his life.
Philippians 1:19-21 says, “For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Have you received the free gift of eternal life?
Who can you pray for who needs to experience victory over death?