Summary: Why do many Christians fear death? Of course the act itself can be horrifying (such as crucifixion ...). But many fear death no matter what the cause. Should this be normal for followers of Jesus? What do we see in the Bible? How does that compare to what we feel?

Facing Death In Christ

Please stand with me as we go over our current memory Scripture:

Job 19:25-27

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes - I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”

And our memory Scripture “refresher” verse(s) is(are):

Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Today we will be reading from Matthew 25:31-46

Matthew 25:31-46 is a prophetic account of the judgment that will take place when Jesus returns to earth. We have looked at this Scripture at least twice over the nearly eleven years since Pastor Karenlee and I came to Crossroads to serve Christ and you.

But, today we will not be looking at the judgment itself. Instead, we will be looking at the actions of the sheep and the goats from the perspective of the hybrid Jewish/Roman culture in which our Savior spoke those words. And, we will be seeing why they can be confusing to us in the culture in which we live.

Finally, we will be discovering what drove the vast differences between the actions of each group.

Please join me in your Bibles as we read: Matthew 25:31-46

(Prayer for help)

Here’s the thing … we tend to read this differently because we live in a culture that is based on Judeo/Christian beliefs; beliefs about caring for those who are hungry, those who are thirsty, those who are without clothing and shelter, those who are sick and in prison.

Indeed, we have both religious and secular individuals and associations who strive to meet those needs. Those who are unbelievers may not even know that they are meeting the needs of others out of the influence of the culture in which they were raised or out of the inherent grace of God that exists even within those who do not know Christ as their Savior.

So, why does the culture in which we live make a difference?

Let’s take a look at something that happened in the third century.

Does anyone know who Galen was? Galen was a physician, surgeon and philosopher who lived from AD 129 to around AD 216.

Galen became so prominent that he was eventually the official physician for several Roman emperors.

Listen to this quote from an online magazine called “Credo”.

“In AD 165, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, an epidemic of what is thought to have been smallpox was brought to Rome by troops returning from wars against the Parthians (in modern Iran). The disease, known as the Antonine plague, decimated the Roman army and spread rapidly throughout the entire Empire. Lasting episodically for fifteen years, it is estimated that 1/4 to 1/3 of the population in the Empire perished.”

Wow. Can you imagine a pandemic that would wipe out 1/4 to 1/3 of a population? That would be 83,000,000 to 110,000,000 people just in the USA.

Where was Galen? Was he on the front lines investigating the cause of the epidemic? We he striving to discover what would help the infected people survive? Was he gathering other physicians so that they could compare notes and find a cure? Where was Galen? What was Galen doing?

The article in “Credo” tells us, “The noted Roman physician Galen, who described the disease in detail, was in Rome during the first outbreak and fled the city for the country.”

Galen tucked his tail and ran! Yes, Galen DID study and document the sickness but from afar and never in the trenches with those who would care directly for the dying.

This was due to two main factors.

- Mercy was looked on as sign of weakness in the Roman empire, and,

- Galen had no hope of eternal life. If he had any religion at all it was that of emperor worship and the worship of other Roman deities.

o When your god is an emperor and you see one after another die it does not give you much hope!

OK. So, back in AD 165 when the Antonine plague broke out Romans believed that showing mercy was a sign of weakness. So those who were without food and water, clothing and shelter, sick and in prison were just not strong enough to be a true Roman.

At the same time there were many in the Jewish community who believed that those who were without food and water, clothing and shelter, sick and in prison were in that condition because of sin in their lives.

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