Summary: We do not need to fear death. Jesus' resurrection is real.
John 14:1-6 “Fear of Life’s Final Moments”
One of the pieces of creation that convinces me there is a God is our bodies. We’re built like a Timex watch—you know, “Takes a beating but keeps on ticking.” As a member of the National Ski Patrol, I saw people fall and have what the trade calls, “a garage sale.” These people would get back up, dust themselves off, pick up all the equipment and continue to ski, when it looked as if they should have gone to the hospital. Kids endure a multitude of scraps, cuts, bruises, falls, and twists that seem to all be healed by a mother’s kiss and a Band-Aid with Square Pants Sponge Bob printed on it.
At the same time, life is a delicate balance. Blood pressure that is not within a narrow range can prevent our cells from receiving nutrients and excreting waste. An imbalance of sodium and potassium can cause significant heart problems. And we can be put flat on our back wishing we were dead by an organism that can only be seen with the highest powered microscope.
Most of us seem to stress the indestructibility of our body. We deny that we will be hurt and that eventually we will die. We put off drawing up a will. We never speak to our family about our thoughts and desires concerning end of life measures. We tell ourselves that we can always do it tomorrow—we have the time. Denial, though, is an inappropriate way to handle fear. We still fear and that fear adversely affects our lives. As Christians we have the option to live fearlessly and abundantly.
DON’T FEAR—THE RESURRECTION
Jesus has just told his disciples that one of them will betray him, and that he will suffer and die. Understandably, they are upset. Jesus’ next words to them are ones of comfort. He says, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” In other words, “Don’t fear.”
These words are more than the empty instructions of many to, “keep a stiff upper lip,” or “pull yourself together and get on with life.” Jesus gives reasons to his disciples for why they do not need to fear.
The first reason that the disciples of Jesus do not need to fear is that death is not the end. Jesus has told his disciples that after his suffering and death that he will be raised from the dead. Jesus is about to conquer death. In this passage, Jesus talks to his disciples about preparing a place for them, and coming to take them to be with him. Clearly, death is not the end, but another beginning.
The resurrection is the center of Christian funerals—or at least should be. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is our hope. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, if Jesus did not rise from the dead then we are of all people to be pitied the most. It is popular now to talk about funerals being a “celebration of life.” Certainly remembering and celebrating the impact that the person has had upon us is important—but this isn’t the main reason we gather as Christians. Christians gather to hear the Word of God proclaimed that there is life after death and to celebrate this truth—this reality.
We have no reason to fear because by his death and resurrection, Jesus has conquered death. Jesus’ victory is our victory.
DON’T FEAR—JESUS’ PRESENCE
One of the promises that Jesus makes to his disciples is, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” Though death may separate us from our family and friends—at least for a time—we will never be separated from Jesus. Remember Paul’s words to the Romans, “Neither life, nor death—nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God is Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31).
Being at the side of the death bed of a loved one is a holy experience—just as holy as being in the delivery room at the birth of a child. We are not the only ones by the bed. Jesus is present also. Whatever the circumstances of our death, Jesus is present with us.
Jesus is our guide. Sometimes GPS units and maps lie. They can get you lost. Jesus doesn’t give us a long list of instructions on what to do to get to heaven. Instead he comes to guide us. When you have someone who has walked the path before and who knows the way, you can be assured that you will arrive at your destination and that you do not need to worry or fear.
DON’T FEAR—PLEANTY OF ROOM
When Jesus is speaking words of comfort to his disciples, one of the truths that he reveals to them is that, “In my father’s house are many dwelling places.” There is plenty of room in heaven. Many of us live our lives in fear that when we get to those imaginary pearly gates that we will be told that there is no room for the likes of us.