Summary: We all want to live life to the fullest, yet we seem to be held back. What cages us in? What locks us down? What fences us in? It is a fight to get out, but victory is possible!
Ultimate Cage Fighting
Pt. 2 – The Cage of Death
In cage fighting, some opponents are more dangerous and more of a challenge than others. Usually the fighter who has a more varied bag of skills is the most difficult to face. Some fighters are very skilled at striking, but are easily defeated if you can take them down. Others have a great ground game due to their expertise in submissions and yet they are open to strikes on their feet. The most dangerous fighter has developed both areas and is able to strike and be effective on the ground. Another element that makes a fighter more of a challenge is experience. In fact, often the commentators talk about the lack of cage experience that impacts a young fighter. A veteran of the octagon knows his way around the cage and is a dangerous foe. Today, I want us to look at a dangerous opponent. This opponent has been squaring off against us since the very beginning. The opponent that we must deal with today is the Cage of death.
The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery says…“Death is the greatest of humankind’s enemies, a relentless Grim Reaper that shows no respect for age or wealth. It robs parents of a precious child, leaving them to mourn the loss for the rest of their lives. It deprives wives and children of their breadwinner and protector, leaving them vulnerable in a hostile world. It takes away an aging spouse, leaving a gray-haired senior citizen without a lifelong companion and closest friend. Sometimes it arrives suddenly and unannounced; at other times it approaches slowly, as if stalking or taunting its helpless victim. Sometimes it hauls away its victims en masse; on other occasions it targets individuals. It uses a variety of methods and weapons, but only rarely does it capture its prey without inflicting pain and terror. Power, beauty and wealth can usually overcome any obstacle, but in death they meet their match.”
Today is Easter Steve we thought you would talk about life. You are correct. However, you can’t experience life until you first defeat death. Death is a constant in life. We face it and we deal with it every day. It has been around a long time. When you examine the drama of our existence you discover that death entered script very early on. The first time this opponent is heard from is in Genesis 2.
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
God acts like Bruce Buffer, the announcer for the UFC, and heralds the arrival of our opponent – death. If you eat of this one tree you will die. The only problem with that announcement is that we know the rest of the story. You know that in Genesis 3 Adam and Eve did in fact eat from the tree and they didn’t die. They continued to live and carry on. Maybe death isn’t as tough of an opponent as we first thought. The problem is that we misunderstand God’s concept of death. When God spoke in Genesis 2 about eating from the tree will produce death in the original language that was used the word death literally means “separation”. So what God was saying “If you eat from this tree you will die from isolation or separation from me.” Isn’t that a more well developed view of death? For in fact, that is what happened. The daily walks, the daily interaction, the unbroken relationship now is shattered and destroyed by death . . . by separation.
And so we discover that death is not only experienced, but well rounded because it has developed attacks that invade every aspect of our lives. When we think about death we think that death is a one faceted foe. We think we just have to deal with the very obvious issue of the end of our life physically. However, death is more far reaching and varied than that. Death is dangerous opponent not just because it can take our physical life, but because death can gain victories/submissions in our emotional, relational, and spiritual lives as well.
Should you think about physical death? Absolutely! But you can live your life and never really stop to think about the end of our physical life and still taste death in the other areas of your life.
I. Three Rounds of Death
Let me illustrate from Scripture.
We know that the disciples watch from hidden locations as Jesus battles with the cage of death. We know that Peter tries to stay as close as he can to Jesus. In John 18:26 Peter is confronted for the 3rd time about his relationship with Jesus. Listen to what happens: