The very nature of our life on earth is that it is temporal. From the moment we’re born, the clock begins ticking, leading us inexorably to the one eventuality we can’t escape: death. This sermon delves deep into the spiritual understanding and implications of death, drawing on a wealth of biblical references.
The famous Psalm of David, Psalm 23, paints a vivid picture of life, guidance, and ultimately, the end we all face: the valley of the shadow of death. Yet, it speaks of courage and faith even in the face of this inevitability. The shadow, although symbolic of death, is but a fleeting presence, overshadowed by the comforting presence of the Lord.
There was a time when we weren’t here, but there will never be a time when we won’t exist. Life is punctuated by two certainties – death and taxes. Yet, while we can evade taxes (though not recommended!), death is a certainty we must all face. As J. I. Packer once said, “To reckon with death is no more than sober realism, since death is life’s one and only certainty.”
The Bible is filled with stories of men and women who faced death – some after long lives like Adam, who lived for 930 years, making both good and bad decisions. Yet, regardless of the length or quality of life, everyone has the shadow of mortality looming over them. Ecclesiastes 9:5 reminds us that the living are aware of their impending death.
While we may understand the concept of death, facing it is another matter. Death, in many ways, is the ultimate unknown. It is, as described in Psalm 23, like a shadow, a constant but intangible presence. Regardless of how long we live or what we achieve, that shadow lingers, reminding us of the fragility of life. James 4:14 likens life to a vapor, appearing briefly and then vanishing.
Yet, for all its uncertainty and fear, death is not the end. For believers, it’s a transition. The Bible speaks of death as sleep, where we can enjoy rest with Christ. Death is also depicted as a departure, leaving the world behind and journeying to the spiritual. And for believers, it’s a release, freeing the soul from the confines of the mortal body.
The narrative of Lazarus provides a poignant reflection on death and resurrection. Jesus’ tears at Lazarus’ tomb weren’t for Lazarus, who He knew would live again, but for the pain and sorrow death brings.
However, it’s vital to remember that death, though a formidable foe, is defeated. For believers, it’s merely a shadow, incapable of causing harm. Life may be short, but the choices we make in this life determine our eternal destiny. By placing faith in Jesus Christ, we can face death not with fear but with the assurance of eternal life.
While death is an inevitable part of life, it’s not the end. For those who believe, it’s a transition to a better place. It’s a journey from the temporal to the eternal, guided by the teachings and promises of the Bible.