“THE DAY DEATH DIED”
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Cor 15:55-57]
INTRODUCTION: I bring to you today undoubtedly the most unusual Easter message you have heard. I am going to chronicle for you DEATH’S BIOGRAPHY in a message entitled “The Day Death Died!”
Now for you to fully understand what I am speaking about this morning, it will be necessary for you to use your imagination. I want to speak of death as though he were a person.
I. BIRTH AND EARLY YEARS.
We turn our attention to death’s birth. I believe I can pinpoint the exact date of death’s birth! It was conceived in Adam and Eve’s temptation and birthed the moment they sinned. Scripture records the birth: “...by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world and death by sin.” The parent of death is sin and the grandparent of death is Satan. Again, scripture tells us that “...whosoever committeth sin is of the devil.” So, on the day that Adam fell to temptation and sinned, there was a bouncing baby boy born into the household of the devil by the name of Death!
There once was a time before death’s birth that this old world was a pleasant place to live. There were no thorns; no thistles. No pain; no travail. No labor. The fruit of the land yielded itself willingly and abundantly. The human body was made perfectly to last throughout eternity. But Death changed all that! He brought along with him thorns, thistles, pain and travail. The human body began to decay and deteriorate.
Death was very active in his early years. It doesn’t take us long at all to see him surface with Cain and Abel as Cain, motivated by jealousy strikes down his own brother in a field and leaves him there to be devoured by death.
Death rapidly becomes the strongest predator on the face of the earth -- relentlessly tracking down each victim, catching and wrestling him down to the rot and mire of the grave! Death is seen day and night going to and fro throughout the earth stalking his prey. He is seen lurking in the shadows, with the souls of men in his grasp. He is the terror of the night. He plays no favorites and is not prejudice: He leaps upon you and old; man, woman, and child alike. Red, yellow, black or white! He rides the wind gaping and screaming for the body and soul of man.
He was ever-present, pushing Ahab & Jezebel along on their murderous plot devised against the devout Nabob. He tracked and devoured this man of God, and then turned his attention and ferocity to his accomplices and set upon them, drinking their life-blood and stealing their souls away.
He went into the fire with the 3 Hebrew children expecting to have their charred bodies, only to be robbed of victory by the Fourth Man in the Fire, which was the Son of God! That’s alright--he knew that he would eventually get these 3 Hebrew boys and would have another encounter with the Fourth Man. He would be patient.
At the mere mention of Death’s name, mortal man trembled! He could boast that of the millions of men and women who had lived on this earth, only 2 had escaped his clutches -- Enoch and Elijah! He struck terror in the hearts of mankind.
II. DEATH’S MOST AMBITIOUS UNDERTAKING.
In his wanderings throughout the earth, Death received word that this "Fourth Man in the Fire", the very Son of God had taken upon Himself human flesh and came to dwell among mortal man. One thought struck Death: "If He has come in the flesh, He’s mine!!" Though thwarted in his previous attempts, death feels certain the time is right. This Son of God has come to Jerusalem as the Messiah. He is playing right into Death’s hands. "He’ll be mine within a week" Death surmises!
I can see Death as he goes along with the guards to the Garden of Gethsemene. His fierceness is kindled as he sees the One who has alluded him so long. He snarls and roars, trying his best to intimidate and terrorize this Son of God, but Jesus looks him straight in the eye and does not flinch! There is not one indication of fear. This Jesus has the look of a conqueror! It is Death that feels a tremor of fear! Could it be that he has finally met his master!?
I can see Death as he goes along with the crowd from the garden to the house of Caiphas and then to Pilate. Pilate, that pompous procurator of the region who would dare sit in judgment of this Perfect Personage of the Universe. I can hear Death whisper into Pilate’s ear: "Kill him. Give Him over to me. I know how to handle this trouble-maker!"
When this didn’t work, Death whispered in the ears of the frenzied crowd, stirring them to cry out: "Crucify Him, Crucify Him! Release unto us Barabbas, the insurrectionist. Let the blood of this man, Jesus be on our hands and on our children’s hands!!" And so as this crowd which has murder in their heart cries out to Pilate, Death celebrates! He’s almost mine! I will devour Him. I will destroy Him. I will make the plan of God non-effect.
Death shouts with glee when he hears Pilate pronounce that Christ is to go to the scourgers and then be crucified. He said, "If I can destroy Him at the hands of the scourger, He won’t make it to the Cross and therefore it will void for eternity, God’s plan of salvation. (DESCRIBE THE SCOURGING).
With every lash of the whip, death lunged upon the body of Christ, yet could not get a death grip. Somehow he was continually repulsed. "That’s OK, I’ll be patient. This Jesus is mine when He goes to the cross!
Death, along with Satan and his imps was present as Christ was laid upon an old rugged cross. They shouted with glee as the brutal Roman soldier placed nails in each hand and feet of Jesus. They laughed as the cross was lifted and dropped into place, tearing the flesh and sinew of our Lord. They stood well back from the cross that day, however, lest a drop of His blood should fall upon them. You see, they realized there was POWER IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB.
Finally, in the midst of Christ’s agony, He struggled for breath enough to say 2 things: 1)Father, forgive them; and 2) It is finished --- and He bowed His head and died!
The sun refused to shine, the earth convulsed, the birds hushed their singing; the angels in Heaven stood in stunned amazement as the Creator, the very Son of God slumped and died. Pandemonium broke loose in hell --- but once again death felt that tremor of fear as he pondered one of Jesus’ last words: "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days!"
III. THE BEGINNING OF THE END.
“Watch Him well, Death”, roared Satan. "Keep Him over 3 days and His Kingdom is yours". Day 1: ---all is well -- celebration goes on. Day 2: No problems, Party continues. Day 3: Death feels somewhat faint. THEN IT HAPPENS!!
THIS IS THE DAY DEATH DIED --- THE DAY CHRIST AROSE FROM THE GRAVE!!!
Up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph oe’r His foes
He arose a Victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose, He arose, HALLELUJAH, Christ Arose!!
Friends, I want to tell you that on the day Christ arose from the grave, Death (for the Christian) died. Scripture tells us:
- I am He that liveth and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore ... and have the keys of hell and death. (Rev 1:18)
- And having spoiled principalities and powers, he make a show of them openly triumphing over them in it (Col 2:15)
- ... Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory!!
Death need hold no more terror in your life. For Christ "Tasted of Death" for us, and triumphed over it on that First Easter Morning. That first Easter morning will ever be know as THE DAY DEATH DIED!!!!