If mankind had just one song, the words of Alison Krauss would be its chorus ‘Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die’.
Why? Because death sends chills down our spinal cords so fast that we almost freeze. That explains why I fear mortuaries. I can’t stand them, even when no one in there may be alive to harm me (I say may be because I can neither trust dead men nor their motives!).
And we all have our fears. My grandmother can’t stand caterpillars though she skins snakes alive even in her old age. Christina Aguilera can’t stand mosquitoes. Franklin D. Roosevelt feared fear. Michael Jackson could not stand flying while Justin Timberlake gets the chills from snakes, spiders and sharks.
While most of our daily fears can be avoided, the worst of them is a certainty. Statistics so far show that one out of one person dies. The combined efforts of United Nations, World Health Organization and World Bank cannot eliminate death. Every breath we take painfully draws us closer to this death.
But why do we fear death? Where did it come from and why exactly do we celebrate Easter? If death is so deadly that we fear it, why do we put it at the center of our celebration on such a day as this?
Let’s first resolve the origin of death, our fear of death and hopefully, we can see why Easter is such a big story in Mankind’s story.
We fear death because we were not made to die. We were created to live; forever (Eccl 3:11). All that man does testifies to this. We talk of leaving a legacy. But a legacy is nothing more than an attempt at immortalizing one’s name after their death.
The Guinness book of records, our Photo albums, our street names, and our inventions carry our names for one purpose; memoirs. Whether we give our possessions or hoard them, whether we stay longer in power or shorter, whether we love or hate, we do so to be remembered well. Even the worst of criminals aims at legacy. They want life so bad that they kill.
Death is a testament of something gone wrong. Death testifies of our Sin. When the bible says that the sting of death is sin (1Cor 15:56), it plainly states the origin of death. Man hates being called a sinner, and he fears death. In one he disregards the root of his impasse, in the other he testifies of his guilt.
And here is a dilemma that forces man to swallow his pride. Man is a sinner, and he does not want to die. But the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) and all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). That’s why everybody wants to go to heaven while nobody wants to die. We want to live forever in sin without experiencing death, the consequence of our sins. That is the nature of a fallen man.
But here is an even strikingly harder dilemma: Man can do nothing about the dilemma he is facing. He has died trying, always, but all the same he has died. For; the restoration to eternity does not lie in man.
C. S Lewis rightly remarks that ‘The Son of God became Man so that men can become sons of God’. Some sort of a glorious infection. It began at the cross 2000 years ago. In the cross of Jesus man has victory over death. Because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died (2Cor 5:14).
God in His love sent Jesus to taste death for us all, that though we die in the flesh now, we have hope for eternity in Him. The sin of one man condemned us to death. ‘But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead’ (1Cor 15:20-21)
Our chorus at the cross changed to ‘amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me’ because the verse on that day was ‘death is swallowed up in victory’ (1Cor 15:54). And because He is risen from the dead, the Redeemed of the Lord do ask confidently ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’
So I ask you now; what if death is really dead, what would you do? Would you live for Christ? ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom 6:23). Happy Easter.