Monday, May 27 2024 - 5:33 PM
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The Reality of Death

A man in Birmingham, England, lent his cell phone to a 15-year-old boy who needed to call his father to be picked up after a night of bowling with friends. After the boy handed the phone back and walked away, the man hit the redial button and told the boy’s father his son had “just been killed.” The news reported that the man was clutching a beer can as he howled with laughter.
“It chilled me,” the father said. “It was the worst 40 minutes of my life.”

That was a cruel hoax! However, death is no hoax. It’s real, and it’s horrible!

1. How did Jesus acknowledge and empathize with the grief of His friends Mary and Martha over Lazarus’s death? John 11:33–35 

“When Jesus saw her [Martha, Lazarus’s sister] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. . . . Jesus wept.”

Death was never part of God’s plan. In the beginning, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

The expression “living being” (Hebrew: nephesh), translated “living soul” in earlier Bible versions, literally means “living creature” (see Genesis 1:20, 24, in reference to animals).

2. Adam and Eve were created for immortality, but it was conditional. What was that condition? Genesis 2:16, 17

“ ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’ ”

Obedience to God was the condition. The serpent, Satan (see Revelation 12:9), in deceiving Adam and Eve, contradicted God and said, “ ‘You will not surely die. . . . You will be like God’ ” (Genesis 3:4, 5).

3. What did Jesus accomplish by His death? Hebrews 2:14, 15

“[Jesus] shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

4. What did Jesus call death? John 11:11–14

“ ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’ . . . Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.”

The Bible says, “The dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5). “Their plans come to nothing”; “Who praises you from the grave?” (Psalm 146:4; 6:5).

5. What did Jesus say that He was, and what did He say would happen to those who believe in Him? John 11:23–25 

“ ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.’ ”

Jesus demonstrated this by raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43, 44). Russell Chandler, former religion writer for the Los Angeles Times, writes, “The Christian claim is not to be confused with the Platonic idea of immortality of the soul. The Christian concept is that the resurrection of the soul cannot be separated from the bodily resurrection. Thus, the integrity and unique personality of each individual are preserved at death.”

6. What would it mean if there was no resurrection? 1 Corinthians 15:16–18 

“For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.” Jesus spoke of two resurrections: “ ‘Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned’ ” (John 5:29).

Revelation 20 shows that these two resurrections will be separated by a thousand years.

7. What determines which group we will be in? John 3:16

“ ‘God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ ”

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