Summary: Should we fear death? No because through Christ it has no power over us.
Death; at some point we’ve all had to think about it in some form. Wether it was contemplating your own mortality or the death of someone you knew, there is no way to avoid it. I once was talking to someone and the subject of death came up, don’t ask me how I can’t really remember. What I do remember is the experience he had with death. When he was young his parents had separated and he went to live with his father. Occasionally he would go to see his mother, but infrequently at best. Then one day he found out that she had breast caner. At the time he was only thirteen, he was still at a time where he was trying to make sense of himself. He still looked upon his parents as immortal, or at the very least never contemplated there mortality. So it was that when he learned of his mother’s condition he didn’t think too much of it. Besides he was still upset at her for leaving. He made no attempt to visit her and assumed that she would beat this temporary condition. In fact he then found out that her cancer went into remission and felt justified in his views. Then a month later she died. The doctors had missed the cancer that had escaped into her lymph nodes. He would never have the chance to make peace with his mother. Even more pressing to him at the time was the fact that he did not understand death. I think today many of us still have that problem. It is the fear of the unknown. How will I die? What happens when I do? Where will I go? I cannot offer answers to any of these. But what I can tell you is that we have nothing to fear. In verse 25 of the reading today it says, “Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies...” We have nothing to fear because we have Jesus Christ, our Savoir and our Lord, on our side. If God if for us, who is strong enough to stand against us.
At a graduation ceremony C.S. Lewis once said, “There are no ordinary people…it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit… your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.” Humans, by nature, are immortal. Our outer shells may fail and decompose, but our spirit will remain forever. The only person with the power to destroy a soul is God himself, and it is not his will
In the reading today we read of one who saw death, Lazarus had died and been dead for four days. He had seen the kingdom of God and returned, not many people can make this same statement. I have mixed feelings about Lazarus, at the same time if feel sorry for Lazarus and excited. I feel excited and almost envious that he was allowed to play such a large part in one of the miracles that Jesus performed. But I also feel sorry for him because of his loss. He was in the kingdom of God, he would only have to wait a short while till Jesus died and opened heaven up again. But instead of being able to wait in the place between he was brought back. Can you imagine being that close to perfection then being ripped away? I think, also, there is a point that is missed when most people read this section. In verse 43 Jesus calls Lazarus out by name; he does not simply say come out. Why is this? It is because of the awesome power of the Lord. The tombs in Israel during this time were mostly communal, and it is most likely that this is the same type that Lazarus was put in. If Jesus had simply said come out, there would have been an army of resurrected coming to Him; for Jesus died that we might not only have life, but life in abundance. This is to be a shorter sermon, because as I said not much can be know by us about death. To finish though, I will leave you with this section of a book written by C.S. Lewis entitled The Screw Tape Letters. For those of you not familiar with this book, it was written as a set of correspondence between two devils. We only read the letters written from the elder, but much can be learned from them. They are letters of advice on how to deal with the youth’s assignment on Earth. I hate to spoil the ending, but I feel it is one of the best descriptions I have read about death.
As he saw you (the demon), he also saw Them. I know how it was. You reeled back dizzy and blinded, more hurt by them than he had ever been by bombs. The degradation of it! - that this thing of earth and slime could stand upright and converse with spirits before whom you, a spirit, could only cower. Perhaps you had hoped that the awe and strangeness of it would dash his joy. But that is the cursed thing; the gods are strange to mortal eyes, and yet they are not strange. He had no faintest conception till that very hour of how they would look, and even doubted their existence. But when he saw them he knew that he had always known them and realised what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not “Who are you?” but “So it was you all the time”. All that they were and said at this meeting woke memories. The dim consciousness of friends about him which had haunted his solitudes from infancy was now at last explained; that central music in every pure experience which had always just evaded memory was now at last recovered. Recognition made him free of their company almost before the limbs of his corpse became quiet. Only you were left outside.