Summary: In this message we look at the fear of death and how to overcome it. We must come to grips with what the resurrection has actually done for our faith. It is amazing!
Nearly 20 years ago at the height of Operation Desert Storm, Ruth Dillow received a very sad message from the Pentagon. The message stated that her son, Clayton had stepped on a landmine in Kuwait and was killed. Ruth later wrote these words, “I can’t begin to describe my grief and shock. It was almost more than I could bear. For 3 days I just wept. I expressed anger and loss. For 3 days people tried to comfort me but nothing worked ..... the loss was simply too great. But 3 days after she received that message the phone rang. The voice on the other end said ,”Mom, it’s me.” It’s Clayton. I’m alive. Ruth said, I couldn’t believe it at first. But then I recognized his voice and realized he really was alive. The message was all a mistake. She said, “I laughed, I cried, I felt like turning cartwheels because my son who I thought was dead was actually alive.”
This morning we come to a story that is very similar. The disciples, family members, those who were at the cross have all received the news that Jesus has died. There could be no mistake about it. Jesus had endured the 39 lashes at the hands of the Romans. Large spikes had been driven through both wrists and his feet. A crown of thorns was placed on his head. A spear was thrust into his side and he had hung on the cross for 6 hours. After they made certain that he was dead they took Him down from the cross and his body was prepared for burial. There was no reserved spot for Jesus so a tomb was borrowed from Joseph of Arimathea and a man named Nicodemus whom Jesus had told how to be born again ... he came and prepared His body for burial in the tomb. The body would then be washed, Nicodemus anointed the body with spices, then the body was wrapped tightly, the hands and the feet were bound with strips of linen and His face was covered with a cloth. This was all according to the tradition of the Jews. John tells the story this way.
The very first thing I want you to see this morning this.... Death can create fear. One of the most common fears people face today is the fear of death. It has been that way for thousands of years, really since the beginning of time man has feared death. The writer of Hebrews gives us some good news here. Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT If you are one of those who has a fear of dying this verses should become your new best friend. One of the many reasons that Jesus went to the cross was so that you and I would not have to fear death. As I studied this week I sat contemplating where does this fear of death come from? There are at least 4 sources. 1. The process of dying helps form our fear of death. What we see others going through while they are dying causes us to ask ourselves questions. Will there be a lot of pain? Will I be alone? 2. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the unknown actually causes many problems for us. Some suffer from anxiety...even anxiety attacks because of uncertainty about the future. We want to be in control and when we lose control we become anxious. So the solution to this fear is that we need more knowledge of what will take place. 3. Fear of what we will leave behind. Will our families be able to cope? Will they be able to handle the financial burden? How will people remember me? Will they remember me? 4. Regret. This is when we feel that we have not been able to accomplish everything we were put on this earth to do.