Summary: Death is a gate. All of us have to pass through it. It may be expected or unexpected. But if you trust Christ, that gate will be wide enough for two - you and your Savior. And the One who has led you all through life will not desert you then.
Ted Springer, a former professional baseball umpire once made the comment, "Life is a lot like a baseball game. It has its start and its excitement, its lively and its dull moments, and it has its finish. Sometimes a game is called off unexpectedly because of a sudden storm. Sometimes it lasts the normal nine innings and sometimes it runs a little extra, but every game comes to an end." It is disgusting and it is disappointing. It is frightening and it is frustrating. But all of us know that Ted Springer could not have been any more right on because life is a lot like a baseball game. It has its start and its excitement, its lively and its dull moments, and it has its finish. Sometimes life is called off unexpectedly because of the anger of a terrorist or the tragedy of disease. Sometimes it lasts a normal 65-70 years and sometimes it runs a little extra. But every life comes to an end. And in recent years, and especially as our nation has confronted terrorism, death has become the number one concern of many people.
Because of AIDS, freak bombings, shootings and cancer, death is no longer something that happens to the other person. At the same time, although none of us want to admit it, there are two things all of us have to admit. The first is that every single one of us are dying. George Bernard Shaw, that poet of the past said something if it were not so honest it would be humorous and that is that the statistics on death are amazing - one out of every one person dies. The same thing that happens to beast happens to man. We come from the dust and go right back to it.
I love the innocent and honest comment made by the young farm boy who said to his dad, "Dad, where did I come from?" He said, "You came from dust." He said, "Dad, where did you come from?" He said, "I came from dust." He said, "Dad, where did Grampa come from?" He said, "He came from dust." He said, "Where am I going back to?" He said, "You’re going back to dust." He said, "Well, Dad, where are you going back to?" He said, "I’m going back to dust." He said, "Where is Grampa going back to?" He said, "He’s going back to dust. Now will you stop asking so many questions and go out and do what I told you - hoe the tomatoes in the garden." So the boy went out to hoe the tomatoes. It had been an awfully dry year and the first strike he made with the hoe, some dust came up from the ground. He ran in to his dad and in all honesty and sincerity said, "Dad, you’d better get out here fast. Somebody is either coming or going right in our garden."
But the second thing all of us have to face is that death, for most people, comes sooner than they ever think. It may be by a day, it may be by a decade. It may be because of an accident or it may be the terror of a mass murderer. But death for most people comes a lot sooner than they ever think.
Some of us will remember the name of Pete Maravich who for ten years set all kinds of records with the National Basketball Association as he was known as Pistol Pete and played for the Boston Celtics. But in January 1989 he fell dead on the basketball floor at the age of 40. The last words he ever said to anyone were, "I am really feeling good." And the fact is, death for most people comes a lot sooner than we ever think and therefore it stands to reason we ought to prepare for death.
Some time ago a college age girl was critically injured in an automobile accident and she was in her dying moments. Do you know what were the last words she ever said to her mother? She said, "Mom, you taught me everything I had to know to get through college. You taught me how to party, how to have sex and how to drink. But you never taught me how to die. Now will you teach me fast because, Mom, I’m dying."
Well, the fact of the matter is, the Bible is a book that tells us how to live but it is also a book that tells us how to die. In fact, some of the most exciting stories in the Bible are the stories of death and dying. And sandwiched into these two verses in Hebrews chapter two are four things a loving God wants all of us to understand about death and dying. Some of them are things that everybody knows and then a couple of them are things that nobody knows.