Summary: We can't study death or observe it or try it out to see how it feels. No, from our earthly perspective we can't possibly understand all we want to about death. Jesus had a lot to say about this enemy we all face.
I Am...the Resurrection and the Life
Date: April 8, 2012
Scripture: John 11:1-44
17thcent. London/stricken/plague/people called/The Black Death.
May 1664 it claimed its first few victims
• May of the next year 600 had died.
• By June of 1665 the number had risen to 6,000...
• One month later it was 17,000.
• Then, in the month of August alone, 31,000 died.
People responded by fleeing the city like rats from a sinking ship....and in this way the disease spread all across Europe.
• By the time it was over about 70,000 people had died.
• Now, this great plague/called/Black Death for two reasons:
First--the victims/marked/large black splotches across their body.
Second--was because of the darkness of ignorance surrounded the cause of the disease.
• Many people of that day thought/plague/caused by the sooty polluted air that smothered the city of London.
Today we of course know that it was carried not by the air...but by fleas carried on the backs of rats.
• But in those days people believed/caused by polluted air
• So the physicians of the day devised a strange ritual to bring about a cure.
They would take the people stricken with this disease outside to a rose garden.
• There, the patients would form a circle around the roses, holding hands.
• Then they would all walk around the circle breathing in the fragrance of the blossoms
• They believed this would flush the disease from their lungs.
• Doctors thought the fragrant air of the roses would replace the diseased air.
The physicians would also stuff rose petals in their pockets As They made house calls
• They would sprinkle those rose petals around the sick as they lay in bed.
• For those near death, the doctors would burn/petals so the victims could breathe the ashes
• Hoping this would make them sneeze and in this way flush out the old diseased air.
Of course, none of these superstitious rituals worked.
People with the plague still died...tens of thousands of them.
• Ritual gave birth/rhyme/first sung/man who pushed the death cart.
• As he loaded/bodies/plague victims high/cart he made his way to the cemetery, he could be heard chanting:
Ring around the roses, a pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!
It’s strange today that what we know as an innocent nursery rhyme would begin in such a way?
Yet the truth in that one line is as real for us in the 21st century as it was in the 17th...for we still ...all fall down.
Each of us eventually succumbs to the inescapable plague known as death.
There is an old axiom/only two certainties /life: death and taxes.
But when you think about it...this familiar cliché is not totally accurate.
• As you should know....especially at this time every year...
• The right deductions and a good accountant, many people have managed to avoid paying any taxes at all.
But EVERYONE will face death.
Listen to what God says in Genesis 3:19 : By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
In Ecclesiastes 7:2 He says, ...death is the destiny of every man.
In Romans 5:12 God used Paul to tell us, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death....[like an uncontainable plague] spread to all men, because all sinned....
• So, we do ALL FALL DOWN.
• From Genesis/Revelation we are told of the plague of death
• The sad fact is all humanity has the disease that causes it.
• We are all stricken this morning.
• In a very real sense each of us is terminally ill.
• Now, that is not a pleasant thought is it?
• And because it is unpleasant, we do all we can to avoid even thinking about it.
• Billy Graham once said that we live in a death-denying society. And we do.
We spend billions of dollars every year on creams and lotions that promise to slow the aging process.
• We work out regularly in an effort to keep healthy and prolong life.
• We even deny our mortality with jokes like Woody Allen who said, it’s not that I'm afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens.
• We also try to anesthetize ourselves against this agonizing awareness by giving death other names.
When the life of a loved one ends, we don't say that they died.
• Instead we say, they passed away...
• Or that they are no longer with us.
Even the writers of classic literature did this. Tennyson referred to death as crossing the bar. Byron dubbed it that dreamless sleep.