In our English culture, death is something we traditionally don’t talk about. There are times when we really have to, however, what we tend to do is rely on euphemisms from the more comic: “popped his clogs” to the solemn: “didn’t make it” or “no longer with us”. If we have the opportunity to ignore it or bypass it in conversation though, most will try our utmost to do so.
Yet our media and the arts seem incredibly engaged with the drama and inevitability of death. Novels, movies, games, all contend to make sense of our mortality in their various narratives and storylines.
We seem ill-equipped on our own to be able to deal with the reality that the statistics prove time and time again that 1 out of every 1 of us will have to face our own death.
Could it be that our pursual of cosmetics and plastic surgery exist not just because of our striving for beauty, but more for our striving to hold off our own decay and, ultimately, our own death?
Commenting similarly on his culture 2000 years ago, a Roman citizen stated “We, like all of creation struggle to be liberated from our bondage to decay”.
Many are aware of the Psalms (particularly ‘famous’ ones like Psalm 23 – The Lord is my shepherd). The writer; David wrote many of the Psalms while under great pressure and in anguish. In Psalm 16 David views death in a different way to some of us:
“No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave”.
David in this Psalm is trusting, not that death will fail to come (when he wrote this his life was under the threat of death), he recognised that as with all of us he will die, but that God had a plan and a purpose for him beyond this life.
One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, when addressing the gathered crowd at Pentecost, declares this Psalm prophetic in that it is speaking of Christ’s defeat of death and of His restoring all that it means to truly live.
The Bible declares that we can all benefit, like David, in our confidence through the work Jesus did. That, through Jesus dying on a cross for the things that we did wrong, and three days later being viewed alive again, death had been defeated. This is what we remember this time of year – Easter. In a culture that fears and recoils away from death, Christians have a hope, a privilege and responsibility to share our assurance that death does not have the final word.
The resurrection is more than just an event that happened once in history. It’s the source of the power that anyone can experience in their own life, every day simply by asking that what Jesus achieved at the cross to count for them. The same resurrection power that brought Jesus from death to life is available to everyone who will put their trust in Jesus.