Summary: We can face death with confidence because Christ faced it for us and arose victorious.
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
What Happens When A Persons Dies?
Why We Don’t Fear Death
Fear is a natural response to death. It was then. It is now.
Those first Christians had every reason to be afraid on that first Easter morning. It had started very early Friday morning. Armed guards arrested Jesus and hauled him off before a kangaroo court. Who would be next? Before sunrise, he had been beaten, abused, tried and sentenced. By nine o’clock, rough Roman soldiers were nailing him to a cross. His disciples couldn’t believe their eyes.
For six long hours they stood in horror and watched. The grief was off the charts. Fear was close behind. If this could happen to Jesus, what would happen to them. At three o’clock, Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished.” He was dead. They were afraid.
His friends claimed his body and hurriedly placed it in a borrowed tomb. Because of the Jewish Sabbath, they didn’t have the time to provide a proper burial. They would come back and take care of that later. They stood at the grave side and wept in fear.
We’ve all been there, done that. Graves are scary places. We stand there holding back the tears and all the time asking ourselves, “What next? Where do we go now? What will life be like without him.” The disciples felt all of that and more!
The disciples weren’t the only ones afraid. The authorities, so bold and arrogant, in the hours before were still fearful that they weren’t done with Jesus. They rolled a large stone over the tomb and sealed it tight. Sentries were posted to stand guard all night just in case. I can only imagine what went through those men’s minds that night. No one wants to spend a night in a grave yard. Not even battle-hardened soldiers.
They had reason to fear. Before the night was over, the God of heaven acted. The earth shook. The stone moved. A bright light flashed across the night sky. These terrestrial warriors were no match for the heavenly variety that appeared to herald the biggest news in the universe. Jesus would live again. Death was defeated!
All of this was still untold news when the women made their way to the tomb on Sunday morning. All they wanted to do was finish their unfinished business of burial. They approached in fear. What if they couldn’t get in? What if the soldiers wouldn’t move the stone for them? What if they wouldn’t even let them near? They needn’t have worried.
At the empty tomb, an angel announces, “Why do you look for the Lord among the dead? He is not here. He has arisen! Fear not!” Later that day, Jesus would repeat those same words, “Fear
not!” To his disciples still huddled in fear, Jesus announces his presence and declares the words we all want to hear in the face of death, “Fear not.”
That is the message of Easter. “Fear not.” If our Lord can conquer death, he can conquer any problem we will ever face. Once the fear of death is gone, we are set free to really live. That’s the message of our text (Hebrews 2:14). Jesus has set us free from the fear of death.