Summary: This sermon looks at how death holds many captive by fear and how we can overcome that fear.
A number of years ago I was driving to school in our little Saturn vehicle we used to own and it was one of those cold cloudy rainy days. The roads were wet and the fog was pretty thick that morning. I was on the road that goes from Myrick to Ellisville and in my hand I help a cup of coffee. Now I don’t know if I just wasn’t paying attention enough or if I took my eyes off the road or what. But when I came to a curve I simply overlooked it. As I was going off the road I overcorrected which took me into the oncoming lane. As all this was going on, in my right hand I still held my cup of coffee. I wasn’t about to let that go! So I overcorrected again, and all of a sudden the back end of the car got loose and started to spin. I spun about three times before I landed in a ditch…still holding my cup of coffee.
A man behind me stopped to see if I was okay and offered me a ride to a phone. A toe truck came to get me out, and when he saw where my car was sitting, he pointed to a nearby driveway just 10 ft away from where I first went off the road into the ditch. He explained how just a few weeks prior, a young girl had went off the road in the same way, in the same place just when she went off the road she hit that driveway and her car flipped a number of times and she was killed.
After a time of reflection on my part I realized two things. First, my priorities were all messed up if I was willing to sacrifice a $12,000 car to save an 89cent cup of coffee and Second, I was only 10 ft away from death. It was a sobering experience to say the least.
When was it that you first realized that death was a reality you must face. Perhaps it was a national tragedy like we saw last weekend with the Space Shuttle Columbia. Maybe it was the death of a close friend or relative. Perhaps it was your own near death experience, whatever the means you came to the realization that you would not leave this world alive. There is a new hit movie out called Final Destination 2, and the commercial for the movie says, “Death is coming”. And Death is coming whether we like it or not.
We can do all we can to avoid it, we can prolong our life with better living, medicine, and technology…but Death is an enemy that we all must face one day. I saw an amazing statistic that said that 1 out of every 1 persons will die. I’m thinking my chances are pretty good. David once said, “there is only one step between me and death.” We all will die…death is no respecter of persons. It tales the powerful and the meek, the actor and the banker, the rich and the poor, both young and old alike.
Death often comes unexpectedly and to those we lease expect. A Newspaper report from this past summer read as follows: On Saturday, June 22, 2002, the scheduled game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field had to be cancelled because of an eerie discovery that was found that morning. The Card’s ace pitcher, Darryl Kile, age 33, was found dead in a Chicago hotel room. Kile had been a major league pitching sensation for 12 years and had appeared in three All-Star games. He was 6-foot 5-inch and seemed in excellent health but when the medical examiners conducted an autopsy later that day, they discovered that Kile had died from a massive heart attack. His main coronary artery was 90 percent blocked. A 33 year old professional baseball player in what seemed like perfect health dropped dead unexpectedly. No one is immune.
And death is such a powerful force that it holds many in the grip of fear. Hebrews 2:15 says, “and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Many are so bound by their fear of death that they won’t even discuss it. They refuse to make a will, to buy a burial plot, or even purchase life insurance all for their fear of death. Woody Allen once said that he wasn’t afraid of dying, he just didn’t want to be there when it happened.
Many of us can understand that. We fear not only death but the events leading up to it. If you’ve ever sat by a bed side of a person struggling to hang on it seems so painful. Death is a mighty for, and that is what makes the resurrection of Jesus Christ the ultimate victory! A victory is meaningless if it is against an opponent who is weak. When Kentucky beat South Carolina last week, not much was said. Yet when they defeated Florida the number one team in the nation the crowd was in a state of euphoria, why? Because it was against a formidable foe. And by His death and Resurrection, Jesus defeated death once and for all. Jesus says, “Because I live, you also shall live.”