Few things frighten humans more than our own mortality. This really should not be the case for the Christ-follower, but many of us are wired up to fear what we don’t know, and even though Jesus has told us, and we believe him, we don’t really know until we get there.
Today, we will look at, and learn from, the way Jesus handled his own death. From this, we will know how to view our own impending appointment with the inevitable.
1. Have Your Defeat of Death Prophesied
He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken. – Isaiah 25:8, NASB (Acts 2:27)
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. – Psalm 16:10, ESV – (Quoted in Acts 2:27)
Both Jesus’ death and his resurrection were prophesied, as was his removing the tears from every eye, and reproach from his people. Thus, if you read closely, and carefully, you are in prophecy as well.
2. Defy Death to Hold You
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. – John 10:17-18, ESV
In saying this, Jesus is almost mocking death, defying it to hold him. Death cannot hold him and neither can it hold you. Jesus said, “Because I live, you also shall live” (John 14:19).
3. Willingly Submit to Death
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. – John 10:18a, ESV
A widespread misconception is that the Romans killed Jesus, or that the Jews (by extension) killed Jesus. But from Jesus own lips we hear something quite different. No one killed Jesus. Jesus laid his own life down. No one takes it from me . . .
From the same passage as Step 2, we see that this action on Jesus’ part is entirely voluntary. Jesus chose to lay down his life. He submitted to and embraced what awaited him. We can do the same. We can willingly submit to the inevitable – embrace it.
4. Rescue Others from Death’s Realm
He said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. – Matthew 9:24-25, ESV
Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak. – Luke 7:14-15a, ESV
When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” – John 11:43-44, ESV
Though we do not go about raising the dead, we are allied with the one who did so with ease, with a word, and from a distance! Death will not hold you any more than it held Jesus or those in this trio of verses.
5. Effect Your Own Resurrection
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. – John 10:18a, ESV
Again from John 10, neither did anyone but Jesus effect his resurrection from the dead. Jesus laid his life down, and Jesus raised his life up, just like he did every other person he raised from the dead. And the day is coming when he will extend that grace to you and to me. We will likewise be raised from the dead.
6. Hold the Keys to the Grave
I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. – Revelation 1:18, NIV-1978
Jesus is the one with the keys. He alone can open the door to death and Hades (the abode of the dead). And he will not be opening that door for us. Remember, “because I live, you also shall live.”
7. Make Calls Into Death’s Domain
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. – John 5:28-29, ESV
We often say things like, “Dead men don’t [fill in the blank].” Well, apparently dead men and women hear, because Jesus is going to make a call and all who are in the grave will hear that call and come forth!
8. Completely Destroy Death
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. – 1 Corinthians 15:25-26, ESV
I opened this blog article with the idea that death frightens us. I’m closing it with the idea that it need not do so. Death has been defeated. Death has been destroyed. For the Christ-follower, death is the gateway to the greatest bliss beyond our wildest imaginations. It is something to which we can eagerly look forward.