Summary: Christ gives us freedom from the fear of death.
Three friends were discussing death and one asked the group, “What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?” The first one responded, "I’d like them to say ‘He was a great humanitarian, who cared about his community.’” The friend who started the conversation replied, "I’d like them to say ‘He was a great husband and father, who was an example for many to follow.’" They nodded in agreement and looked to the third friend who had been silent. Without hesitation he concluded, "I’d like them to say ‘Look, he’s moving!!’”
Actor and director Woody Allen voiced the same feelings when he said, “I am not afraid to die. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
Death can be a very intimidating subject to talk or think about. In fact, some of us would rather not talk about death. We are uncomfortable with the idea of death.
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a Bible study at a prison. As we pulled up to the gate of the prison, the guard asked if I had any ID. I showed him my drivers’ license and then he looked at me and said, “Keep that on you in case we have to identify your body later.” I kind of laughed; but he didn’t. Needless to say I was a little on edge as we pulled away from the gate.
We find ourselves being very uncomfortable with the idea of death. It has become almost taboo with some people to discuss death. In fact, some people have come up with certain ideas or beliefs to help them deal with the thought of death.
Some people tell themselves: I am going to live forever! Now obviously people know this isn’t true, but some people act like it is! That’s why they will not eat certain foods or enjoy various activities because they are taking precautions so that they will never die. They are in extreme denial.
Others will tell themselves: Hey, I’ll get a mulligan after this life. Those of you who golf understand what I’m talking about. A mulligan is a “do-over.” There are some people who believe that if they mess up here, they will get another shot after their death.
This way of thinking can be found in a couple religions. In the nation of India they believe in reincarnation. When you walk there you must be careful not to step on an aunt or uncle.
Others have the belief in a place called Purgatory. This is a place that you can go to where you make payment for your sins. This option is built on the false premise that we can atone for our own sins, that what Jesus accomplished on the cross in our behalf was just the beginning.
However, the Bible teaches that we cannot pay for our sins. Our righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s eyes. Hebrews 9:27 says, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” We clearly see that the Bible says we are to die once, and then face judgment.
Others will tell themselves this: Death is the end of everything. Death is all there is. It is the end of existence.
Jesus said in John 5:28 - 29, “for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” Life ends in death. Death is followed by judgment and judgment by eternity. Jesus makes it clear. Judgment will not be same for all.
You probably heard about the older lady who was riding on a crowded bus. She was quietly reading her Bible when a rather distinguished looking man took the seat beside her. After a while he noticed her reading material. He introduced himself. “Hello, I am Professor Smith. I teach philosophy at the university. Don’t tell me you actually believe that stuff you are reading?”
“I certainly do,” the elderly lady replied. “Every word of it.” “Even that story about the Jonah and the whale,” challenged the professor with a smirk. “Of course,” was the quick reply. “Can you prove to me that the story is true?” he asked next. Knowing what she believed but also knowing she wasn’t about to win any arguments with the professor, she simply said, “Well, when I get to Heaven, I’ll ask Jonah.” The professor smiled, “Well, what if Jonah’s not in Heaven?” The little lady laid her Bible down, looked the professor square in the eye and sternly declared, “Then you can ask him!”
You often hear people argue that spiritual matters aren’t really all that important because we are headed to the same place any way. Those who make that claim are at least partly right. We are all headed to the same place. The judgment of God! That is where the path separates. Jesus said there are two roads, the straight and narrow or the broad and wide. One is popular, the other less so. One leads to life and the other to destruction. Death is not the end. We are destined once to die and then the judgment.