Spreading of the corona virus and its ability to expedite death in the healthy as well as those already suffering from debilitating illnesses, has brought nations and individuals to face their greatest fear, death. All are anxious, another word for fear, over the prospect of death. For some it is the process of death, for others it is the unknown after death causing this fear. In New York, Governor Cuomo implemented Executive Orders to restrict personal contact which he justified by stating at a press conference, “If it saves just one life, it is worth it.”
Fear of death is behind our nation’s, and the world’s, response to the pandemic. Governments of the world are acting to alleviate their peoples’ fears. Unfortunately, after the current pandemic passes people will continue to die; the elderly are expected to eventually pass, other illnesses such as cancer and heart disease will continue to take their toll, wars will take lives, crimes will take lives, accidents will shorten lives of the young and old, and suicides will continue to end lives prematurely. Today, death is a natural part of living. It is the ultimate equalizer, for all face the specter of death. No executive order can reverse this order of life. All, however, do not fear death the same.
Though some are anxious about the manner of death they will experience, they do not fear what comes afterward. They look forward with joy to the day they pass from this life. Unlike Carl Sagan, the renowned astronomer who believed this life is all there is and the person who dies returns to the cosmic energy of the universe, another term for annihilation of body and soul, the biblical perspective of death plainly states there is more to life than this temporary physical world. After physical death the spirit and soul of people continue in eternal conscious existence, some in the presence of God in heaven, others separated from Him in hell. For many, the fear of death is prompted by the fear of going to hell.
The Bible does not describe hell as a place where there will be partying with friends. People cannot escape its clutches of eternal torment by denying its existence, nor do we somehow deserve heaven because we believe we’ve suffered hell on earth. The truth is we are all unworthy of God’s presence in heaven. In the beginning all things were very good. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden until Adam rebelled against God by disobeying God’s command. Adam’s self-assertion introduced the sinful nature we all experience in ourselves. Physical death and separation from God were the result. Within each of us is a rebellious spirit against God. This rebellious spirit makes us all unworthy of God’s presence. Because we are rebellious in our nature, we can do nothing to make ourselves worthy of heaven, the real reason to fear death: eternal separation from God.
Easter is a time of celebrating life, eternal life. It is a celebration of Jesus’s resurrection after his death on the cross. Because Jesus died to pay for people’s rebellion, another word for sin, others may have eternal life. We know Jesus’s death was an acceptable payment for people’s sin because God raised him from the grave. Easter is celebrated by those who place their trust in Jesus’s payment for their sin, guaranteeing their restored relationship with God and making them acceptable to Him. Those who trust Jesus as Savior need not fear the eternal outcomes of death, for they have confidence that God will receive their soul and spirit in heaven; they will not be cast into hell. One day they may sing with others in heaven, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.”
You need not fear eternal death either, sinner. You can have peace with God by trusting in the resurrected Jesus as your Savior, the one who paid the penalty for your sin, who restores you to a healthy relationship and eternity with God. Those who trust in the resurrected Jesus do not look forward to the process of death, the experience of death is rarely pleasant, but they do not fear the final outcome. They have peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ and can live with confidence in times of uncertainty, even the uncertainty of governmental lock-downs and the threat of death-dealing diseases. The Christian need not fear death.
Easter is the remembrance of the living hope we have in God, the one who gives us peace to face death because He raised Jesus from the grave. Because Jesus lives, we live also and can face tomorrow.
Pastor Rick Weber