Summary: We have no reason to fear death because of Christ’s victory over it. A message for Easter Sunday.
April 4, 1999
Story – Part 1
It was a windy but sunny spring day in May of 1986 when the San Jose High School boys track team came to our school for a head to head track meet. Hartsburg-Emden, where I went to school, and San Jose were conference rivals. The districts neighbored each other, and both were comprised of small farming communities.
The San Jose track team wasn’t very strong, except for one certain athlete. His name was John Waller. John Waller was somewhat of a living legend at that time in Illinois boys track. He was an incredibly gifted runner who had consistently placed in the top 5-10 spots in the mile run at the state level since he was in seventh grade. And this was his senior year. John had achieved the superstar status that few high school athletes ever do. A recognizable name and a recognizable face. The kind of guy everybody at a track meet would try to talk to just so they could say they did. The kind of guy that would make girls blush doing nothing more than walking past them.
I also ran the mile, and it was my senior year. I had run against John Waller on a number of occasions, only to watch him pull away from the pack down the stretch and leave the rest of us way behind. I was a decent miler, and strongest person in that event for my school, but the fastest mile I had ever run in my life was an even 5 minutes. John Waller’s best times were nearly 30 seconds faster. When I ran against him I was just hoping I wouldn’t get lapped.
Since we ran the same event, I had struck up somewhat of a friendship with John Waller over the last 2 years. He would give me little running tips and was always very encouraging. A genuinely nice guy, but man was he fast, and on a day like this, when I was his only real competition, it always exposed just how much stronger and faster he really was.
The mile is a race consisting of four laps around the track. And it takes place near the end of a track meet, after almost all of the other events have been completed. I had waited anxiously for the moment and now the time had arrived. I took my place at the starting line as did John Waller and three or four other runners from our two schools. The starter raised his arm – “Runners, take your mark.” He raised the gun, “Get set.” BANG! The gun was fired and off we went.
But something strange was happening. I was in the lead. We rounded the first curve and I was still leading. “Where’s John Waller?” I wondered. “Did he trip? What’s going on? Did I just have too much adrenaline and start out way too fast? No, this seems like my normal pace. This is really strange.”
I led the entire first lap. And as I ran across where we had started the race I fully expected to see John Waller on the ground nursing an injury. But, nope! He was nowhere to be found. He had to still be in the race. I finished the second lap still in the lead, my split times were consistent with how I always ran – where was John Waller?
I. (THE TRAGEDY OF SIN)
A. For a time in the history of the world it may have appeared to some that death would reign.
You know, it seemed like God was on the losing end. He created life human life in the Garden of Eden, a place of perfection and harmony.
But Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and Adam joined in too. Before this, death was just a word, a concept, an experience completely unknown.
1. As a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, death became a reality for everyone.
2. The Dictionary of Biblical Imagery says…“Death is the greatest of humankind’s enemies, a relentless Grim Reaper that shows no respect for age or wealth. It robs parents of a precious child, leaving them to mourn the loss for the rest of their lives. It deprives wives and children of their breadwinner and protector, leaving them vulnerable in a hostile world. It takes away an aging spouse, leaving a gray-haired senior citizen without a lifelong companion and closest friend. Sometimes it arrives suddenly and unannounced; at other times it approaches slowly, as if stalking or taunting its helpless victim. Sometimes it hauls away its victims en masse; on other occasions it targets individuals. It uses a variety of methods and weapons, but only rarely does it capture its prey without inflicting pain and terror. Power, beauty and wealth can usually overcome any obstacle, but in death they meet their match.” (p. 198)