Summary: This Easter sermon describes the birth, life-cycle and fatal blow (as delivered by Jesus) of Death, currently on life support until the end.
1 Corinthians 15:55 - Death: R.I.P.
We are here today to announce the passing of a faithful attender of this church for many years. In fact this faithful one has been coming virtually since this church began. Although he’s not here every single week, we are often reminded of his presence. He hasn’t long to live, to be sure. Not much breath is left in his lungs. He is certainly only on life support. And in fact, there is soon coming a day when he will be just a memory.
Yet we do not mourn his soon demise. In fact, we say, “The sooner the better.” Who is this faithful church attender? His name is Death, and he will soon be gone from us. Because of what Jesus did on Easter Sunday by rising from the grave.
Today we will look at the life and times of death. How did he come into being? How has he spent his life? And what was the final blow that ended his up on life support, barely hanging on until the day he is no more?
It all began in a garden called Eden. 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 Adam & Eve sinned. For Romans 5:12 says this: “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” The parent of death is sin. The consequence of sin is death. Death comes for all who have sinned, which is frankly all of us.
You see, 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 hard labor. The fruit of the land yielded itself willingly. The human body was made perfectly to last throughout eternity. But Death changed all that! He brought along with him thorns, thistles, pain and hard work. The human body began to decay and deteriorate.
Well, it wasn’t long before Death took his first victim, once again, as a result of sin. You’ve heard of Cain and Abel, the two brothers who had a dispute over how to please God. Cain introduced his brother Abel to Death out of jealousy. The Bible says death was crouching at Cain’s door, and Cain opened up that door. So Death came to Abel as a result of Cain’s sin. No different today. Innocent people everywhere suffer and die because of others’ selfishness. Death is the consequence of sin.
Well, we continue to look at Death’s long and exciting life. He became quite famous. At just the mention of his name, people learned to cower in fear. They began to look for ways to avoid him.
For example, Sarah Winchester’s husband had acquired a fortune by manufacturing and selling rifles. After he died of influenza in 1918, she moved to San Jose, California.
Sarah was convinced that the dead souls of the many Indians who lost their lives because of Winchester rifles haunted her. Sarah sought out a medium to contact her dead husband. The medium told her, “As long as you keep building your home, you will never face death.”
Sarah believed the spiritist, so she bought an unfinished 17-room mansion and started to expand it. The project continued until she died at the age of 85. It cost 5 million dollars at a time when workmen earned 50 cents a day. The mansion had 150 rooms, 13 bathrooms, 2,000 doors, 47 fireplaces, and 10,000 windows. And Mrs. Winchester left enough materials so that they could have continued building for another 80 years.
Today that house stands as more than a tourist attraction. It is a silent witness to the power that Death has, to hold millions of people in fear. In fact, Hebrews 2:14-15 says that a solution was needed to free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of Death. For quite some time Death had a stranglehold of people’s lives.
But that changed one day. One day it was as if God Himself looked at His watch and said, “It is time.” The Bible says in Galatians 4:4 – “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law.” This son, Jesus, was born into the old order of things. Where sin and death were the law, as Romans 8:2 tells us. Sin and Death ran the show. You couldn’t avoid or escape either one.
Well it took 30 years for Death to realize he had met his match, but it happened. Jesus began doing miracles. Raising people from the grave, to be precise. This had happened in the Old Testament occasionally. And Death certainly felt cheated then, too. I mean, Elijah, who had raised a boy from the grave, was transported to heaven without ever dying. How cheatful could that be? But aha, Death did the final say with Elisha, the other dead-raiser back then. Elisha died, and so did the people he brought back to life. Elijah was a minor hiccup for Death, but Death won in the end.