The Gospel for Real Life

Jesus

Christ in Psalms – 8

David sings praise to God because of His creative work and His interaction with His creatures – specifically human beings.  David reveals who He is praising.  He is praising the LORD, Yahweh, the God who redeems people.  The Redeemer is majestic.  Then he calls God, “our Lord.”  You’ll notice in your Bibles that this word, “Lord” is not all capitalized.  That is because it is a different word in the Hebrew text.  It is the word, “Adonai.”  Adonai is more of a title meaning “Master.”  This means that this powerful Creator is the Redeemer and the Master!  Notice that David does not just say, “Oh LORD, Lord, how majestic.”  David says, “our Lord.”  When those two Hebrew words are put together, it’s a formal address to the King.  Therefore, David is saying that the Redeemer is also the King.  In addition, David calls Yahweh majestic.  The term majestic is a royal attribute that means mighty.  Majestic seems to have connotations of awe in association to one’s revealed strength.  God truly defines the word majestic.  His strength made the stars, the galaxies, the earth.  And, His glory (i.e. – “name”) is majestic all over the earth.  Because of these truths, David desires to praise the Lord.

The second half of verse one further expands on the truth of God’s kingship.  David says that God has set his glory above the heavens and also revealed in all of creation.  What a beautiful picture that is!  If people saw perfectly, their eyes of faith would constantly be pointed upwards to the majestic God.

In a somewhat similar fashion to the original creation story, David moves from the broad creation to the pinnacle of creation – human beings.  Over the last several weeks, we’ve been learning about the fallenness of human beings and the difficulty that even the Psalmist has faced, and in this Psalm David directs his focus to the intent of God to silence the enemy.  Sin was not a part of garden of Eden to begin with.  Since God is still involved in this world, He is very gracious with it, and His goal is to silence the enemy.  This is going to happen someday.  We’ve read the previous Psalms which point to that glorious return of Jesus when wickedness will be wiped away.  And that is a glorious thought for the believer, but what about today?  How can we be confident today that God will wipe away sin?  Obviously God has promised it; therefore, it will happen.  But, God has displayed the glory of this promise by revealing it on this earth.  Let’s look at verse 2: “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.”[1]  What does David see as a sign of God’s faithfulness to put an end to wickedness?  Answer: The strength of future generations.  This word for “strength” has the sense of being a bulwark and also carries with it connotations of praise.  Instead of God wiping the earth completely clean, God continues to bring children into this world – revealing to us that He is working to complete His plan.

In the amazing rule and plan of God, we see the enormous and very small objects that God cares for.  David again meditates on this amazing rule of God in the heavens and declares that the heavens are the work of God’s fingers.  These huge stars in space are merely the work of His fingers – indicating the vastness of God.  It is no wonder that David quickly moves to say, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you visit him” (v. 4).

Even the wording in verse four is very important.  David uses two phrases to describe humanity.  He says “man” and then “son of man.”  Remember, David has been meditating on the fallenness of humanity.  Psalm 8 is redirecting back to Psalm 1 and the intent of humanity.  The word “man” is a poetic word for human beings in their frail existence (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 140).  The phrase “son of man” is a special phrase that refers to man’s relationship to God Himself.  As one commentator put it, “Humans are by nature ‘earthlings,’ and yet they are the particular objects of God’s attention” (TEBC, p. 140).  If we go back to the beginning of God’s creation, before Adam and Eve sinned, why would God pay so close attention to them?  He did not need them.  He enjoyed perfect community within Himself in the Trinity for all eternity.  God’s relationship to humans provide a unique privilege.  Yet, as we’ll see in future psalms, the word “man” and “son of man” are used to display that humans have become corrupt, failing in following through on God’s mandates towards them (11:5, 14:3); however, God, in His abundant grace, is still mindful – meaning that he remembers humans.  He thinks on humans.  He “visits” or “cares for” us.  Instead of visiting Adam and Eve with judgment.  He visited them by clothing them.  Instead of visiting the human race with only wrath, He visited humanity on this earth and absorbed the wrath of God in our place.  He is continually concerned for humanity – even sinful humanity!

While human beings are broken, they still displayed a semblance of the image of God.  That image has been granted to them by God and verses 5-8 reveal this truth.  Sadly, humans tend to go to one of two extremes.  I remember reading a theology book that talked about human beings natural tendency to either think too highly or too low of themselves.  This verse makes two things clear.

  1. We are not God.  This verse says that humans have been set a little lower than “the heavenly beings.”  This could be an accurate translation of the Hebrew; however, the Hebrew word is “Elohim.”  This is also the word for “God.”  This word is used of God at the beginning of Genesis and I think in the context of this Psalm, “God” might be a better translation of this word.  We are a “little lower” than God.  This phrase “little lower” actually means to be deprived of something.  It’s not simply that we’re just a little bit under God, but it’s that we lack divinity!  That’s significant.
  2. This psalm also teaches us that we are also not animals.  All animals are under our domain.  We are not called to be violent for violence sake.  We are to use animals in such a way that displays God’s glory.  Animals help us with farming, food, companionship, and many other things.  Yet, we are over the animals.

This psalm sets things straight.  God has crowned mankind with glory and honor.  To crown is to set apart and elevate something.  The King of Creation has crowned humanity to be His Ambassadors, and we need to recognize that human beings even in their fallen state (not seeking His glory) are still crowned with some semblance of glory and honor.  They are fallen image bearers, but they are image bearers nonetheless, and they are tasked by God to fulfill the qualifications of one who is crowned by God.

What does all of this have to do with Jesus?

We’ve seen that God’s blueprint for humanity is being torn to shreds by human beings – including our own selves.  As I mentioned a moment ago, Jesus entered into the human scene.  He became a human being to visit this earth in order to fulfill and be the representative for human beings.  In order to get a fuller understanding of this psalm, let’s look at how the New Testament authors quote this psalm.

15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?”

And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read,

‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants

You have perfected praise’?

17 Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He lodged there. [2]

The Word of God was being fulfilled when Jesus was walking into Jerusalem in triumph.  Jesus’ enemies were indignant at what was taking place and yet Jesus says that the children are right in praising Him.  The children, the weak and the vulnerable, are ones who are rejoicing in the culmination of Yahweh’s rescue plan.  The chief priests and scribes, on the other hand, are proving themselves to be the enemy.  When we see these verses from a saving perspective we see all the more clearly that those who are dependent like children on the Lord find a sure refuge (Matt. 18:3).  When God’s children call out on the Lord, it also shames the enemy.

One more passage in the New Testament we must mention:

5 For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. 6 But one testified in a certain place, saying:

“What is man that You are mindful of him,

        Or the son of man that You take care of him?

7      You have made him a little lower than the angels;

        You have crowned him with glory and honor,

        And set him over the works of Your hands.

8      You have put all things in subjection under his feet.”

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. [3]

While Psalm 8 is a passage for us as humans, telling us how we ought to be and act, we know we’ve failed.  Hebrews 2 reveals to us that Jesus stepped into the cesspool of humanity and became the representative of humanity.  Philippians 2 says that Jesus humbled himself and became a human being.  And, God the Father was very mindful of Jesus.  Jesus, the Son of Man, was taken care of by God.  Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for a time, and according to verse 9 he was crowned with glory and honor because of his suffering death.  Upon His resurrection, Jesus was vindicated as the Messiah and He rules and reigns today as the Risen Lord of all – everything being subjected to Him.  He, tasting death for everyone, provides life to all who come to Him in faith.  Therefore, God is not only majestic in creation, but He is majestic in salvation!

Jesus fulfills the blueprint of humanity.  And, He is the representative of all who call out to Him!  Won’t you call out to Him?  He’s ruling over all, revealing His glory.  Jesus has appeared.  He is the perfect Mediator!  He relates to the human race and is God!  Meditate on His glorious splendor.


[1] The New King James Version. 1982 (Ps 8:2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] The New King James Version. 1982 (Mt 21:15–17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] The New King James Version. 1982 (Heb 2:5–9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


The Next Step: Disciple a Few

What does discipleship look like?

Here’s the guidance David Platt has for us in his book Radical:

I am concerned about a general vagueness that has existed in contemporary Christianity regarding the next step. We have seen that God blesses us so that his glory might be made known in all nations. But an all-important questions remains. How do we make God’s glory known in all nations? If God has given us his grace so that we might take his gospel to the ends of the earth, then how do we do that? Do we walk out into the streets and just start proclaiming the glory of God somehow? Should we all go to other nations? If we go, what do we do when we get there? What does all this look like in our day-to-day lives?

Jesus has much to teach us here. If we were left to ourselves with the task of taking the gospel to the world, we would immediately begin planning innovative strategies and plotting elaborate schemes. We would organize conventions, develop programs, and create foundations. We would get the biggest names to draw the biggest crowds to the biggest events. We would start megachurches and host megaconferences. We would do . . . well, we would do what we are doing today.

But Jesus is so different from us. With the task of taking the gospel to the world, he wandered through the streets and byways of Israel looking for a few men. Don’t misunderstand me — Jesus was anything but casual about his mission. He was initiating a revolution, but his revolution would not revolve around the masses or the multitudes. Instead it would revolve around a few men. It would not revolving around garnering a certain position. Instead it would revolve around choosing a few people. He would intentionally shun titles, labels, plaudits, and popularity in his plan to turn the course of history upside down. All he wanted was a few men who would think as he did, love as he did, see as he did, teach as he did, and serve as he did. All he needed was to revolutionize the hearts of a few, and they would impact the world.”

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, [Colorado Springs: Multnomah, 2010], 87-88)

Quoted from the following blog: The Next Step: Disciple a Few.


Christ in Psalms, 7

David has been falsely accused by “Cush – a Benjamite” and he is seeking God’s justice in this temporal situation.  From a literary perspective, this psalm could be tied together almost like a sandwich (technically, this psalm forms an “inclusio.”)   Verses 1-3 and 17 are like the bread – sharing similar themes.  Verses 3-5 and 14-17 are the cheese and verses 6-13 are the meat.  We will approach this psalm from that perspective.

In verses 1-3, we find that deliverance comes from the Lord – providing stability to the believer.  Many times in the midst of false accusations, people are tempted to quickly turn to others around them and say, “Did you hear about what happened to me?  Those people are such liars!”  Sometimes, people might mope around in fear – never wanting anyone to approach them or even allow them to see the light of day.  In and of themselves, neither of these responses are truly helpful.  Psalm 7 reveals that our greatest hope is found in the Lord.  David refers to the Lord as “my God” and the One in whom he puts his trust.  Again, the phrase “my God” is similar in tone to the Greek phrase “Abba! Father!”  It is a term of intimacy.  David further reveals this closeness by saying that God is his refuge.  Since God is David’s God and the One who protects David, David explains his need for God’s justice to be displayed at the present time.  False accusations are rising up against him and are tearing him apart much like a lion tears apart its prey.  In these verses, David does not say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  Instead, David confesses the pain these words have caused, and calls on God to act accordingly – on behalf of His child.  Words do have power, and people need to realize that power and act appropriately (see Jas. 3:1-12).

In verse 17, we see the conclusion of someone who finds refuge in the Lord.  Since the Lord is righteous and good towards His children, David can rejoice!  Note that David refers to Yahweh (aka – the LORD) as the Most High.  This phrase was first mentioned in Genesis in the interaction between Melchizedek and Abraham (Gen. 14).  This phrase is “descriptive of the universal rule of God, to whom his subjects sing praise” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 135).  Having seen that all the Old Testament Scriptures point to the Messiah, and that Jesus is LORD, we also see that the phrase “Most High” prefers to Jesus as well.  Therefore, we praise Jesus!  He suffered unjustly.  Jesus was lied about.  Jesus endured the wrath of God on the behalf of sinners (Rom. 3:21-26).  Then the Bible says that we ought to share in His sufferings (Rom. 8).  But, the Bible does not stop there either.  The Bible says that He is ruling and reigning today.  He is the One Who is worthy (Eph. 4:8, Heb. 1:3).  He sits at the right hand of the Father today – ever living to make intercession for us, while preparing a place for us, and also enjoying the praises of the heavenly hosts (Jn. 14:3, Heb. 7:25).  This God is the God who has rescued David, and this God is the God who has rescued many throughout the ages!  Therefore, if God be for His children, who can be against them (Rom. 8:31)?  Rest your case at His feet.

Since God is the judge, David is able to entrust his enemies and even himself at God’s judgment.  These truths we find in verses 3-5 and 14-16.  In verses 14-16, we find the description of the wicked.   Here are a couple of truths we find in David’s description: 1) “The wicked brings forth. . . .”   Jesus says that it is not the things outside of us that makes us filthy, it is what is inside of us that reveals our filth (Matt. 15:10-20).  This means that by nature we can only sin unless the grace of God enters to save us, 2) Within our own selves, human beings have an adulterous relationship against their Creator and bring about trouble and falsehood.  Every human being was created in the image of God to glorify Him, and every human being somehow steals that glory for themselves by not actively giving to God the glory due to His name, 3) Death is the ultimate end of the wicked because their actions pursue an existence apart from God (see Lk. 16:19-31 for an example of a man who still tries to be in control in Hell).

All this said, David is not merely hoping for judgment on others.  David really pleads for God’s righteous judgment to be displayed – even if that means for God to discipline David.  Keep in mind, David believes he is innocent.  He also knows that he is the Lord’s anointed (Ps. 2), but he realizes that God’s justice is more important.  If he is wrong in this situation, God must reveal that.  We see this truth communicated in verses 3-5.

David uses the dynamic use of three – “if, if, if.”  He does not believe he is guilty, but if he is, he asks that he would be overtaken because justice must be seen in this scenario.  Many times, we humans plead for mercy.  We often think that mercy means no consequences for our actions.  That can definitely be the case, but mercy also includes God’s abundant love towards His children to mold them into His image more and more.  If a more severe consequence would keep His child from being conformed to God’s image, He will not allow it.  If God’s child needs that consequence to be molded into His image, He’ll grant it – even if that means taking away things that you have worked hard for (hence David praying for his honor to lay in the dust).  These are very strong words, and for that reason, I think this is why we find the word “Selah” here and nowhere else in this Psalm.

We have seen so far that God is the judge and that everyone will be judged by Him.  Now we see more clearly that God will judge rightly (vv. 6-13).  David again uses the dynamic use of “three’s” by asking for the Lord to arise, lift up, rise up.  He believes he is innocent in this earthly matter and he is seeking God’s deliverance.  There are three truths we see from verse six: 1) David seeks for God’s anger towards sin be displayed clearly, 2) David believes the enemy’s rage is so intense that they need to be stopped and shamed, 3) David believes that God’s faithfulness to His children requires that God answer him in this scenario.

In verses 7-8b, David addresses what I believe to be future reality.  Basically David is saying, “continue to reveal your judgment on this earth since everyone will someday be judged around Your throne.”  One commentator said, “. . .all of God’s judgments in this life are dress rehearsals for the final judgment” (The Preacher’s Commentary, p. 72).  David quickly returns to his specific situation in verse 8b.  He asks the Lord to judge his actions justly.   Verses 12-13 talk about God’s direct punishment towards the wicked in sharpening His sword and making His bows ready.  There will be a day when wickedness will come to an end (Rev. 19).  At that final judgment, the righteous LORD will test hearts and minds.  For all the righteous, Jesus will be their defense and their righteousness.  And, since God is a just judge, He will justly punish the wicked (Rev. 20:10).

Now, where does this psalm point us to today?  I cannot help but be reminded of Romans 1-3.  Everyone is a sinner (Rom. 3).  There are areas of innocence in earthly matters.  God cares about those matters, and we ought to pray that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Matt. 6).  But with regards to our innocence in the heavenly courts, everyone is wicked.

Thankfully, Jesus enters the Heavenly Courts.  The book of Zechariah gives a wonderful story of Joshua (the High Priest) coming into God’s courts with dirty clothes and God placing His clean robe on Joshua – symbolizing forgiveness (Zech. 3).  In the same way, Jesus died and shed his blood on behalf of sinners so that they might have a robe of righteousness placed on them.  Jesus enters the Heavenly Courts and says, “Judge them according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity within me.”  When those who have been saved get to the judgment, we ought never to say, “Lord, didn’t we do many wonderful works in your name” as a means of gaining access into eternal life (Matt. 7:21-23).  To those people God says depart from me.  Instead, we ought to say with the song-writer, “I need no other argument or plea.  It is enough that Jesus died, and that He died for me” (Eliza Hewitt, My Faith Has Found A Resting Place; see also Gal. 2:20).

So, what does David’s response to false accusations teach us?  We too ought to remember God’s judgment, entrust ourselves to Christ and then focus on our glorious eternal future.  In the final judgment there is either going to be people who believe on Jesus or people who have rejected Him.  For those who believe, there will be glorying in Him with great admiration!  We will say that God is our righteousness, our defense and our salvation.  God’s children will say with verse 17 of this psalm, “I will praise the LORD according to His righteousness, And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.”


Jesus Satisfies People’s Hunger

Have you ever really wanted something to eat so bad, you could almost taste it? Maybe you’ve gone out to a restaurant and you order a steak or a burger or a salad that you’ve been craving all day. Finally, the food arrives. You eat it. You’re satisfied. Your meal was a success!

Have you ever had a similar situation with trials? Think about it. You placed your order in with God.  You ask for relief and satisfaction.  You just want them to be over. The hunger pains for God (and relief) are getting stronger, and yet God doesn’t seem to be coming to you. You may be learning some from His Word, but for some reason God is making you wait.

Mark 8 brings some particularly helpful insights for the hungry soul.

In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” (Mark 8:1-3)

A couple of truths jumped out to me. The first of which is this: Jesus cares about people.  This shouldn’t come as a shock, but many times I can get a thought that Jesus just wants me to buck up, try harder, and work for God’s approval. Obviously I often feel weak when these thoughts control me. So, in the margin of my Bible, I wrote, “Jesus cares when you’re exasperated.” The reason I wrote it that way is because Jesus was concerned not only that the people hadn’t eaten food, but he was concerned at the consequences of not eating. In other words, if those people didn’t eat on that day, they would faint. Their physical bodies would “give up.”

The second truth I saw was that Jesus could have fed the people on the first or second day. He could have fed them all of the days. But, He didn’t feed them until the third day.

The third truth I saw was that Jesus gave more than enough food to satisfy each person. “And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full.”

Listen carefully here. If you have trusted in Jesus, you are one of God’s children (Rom. 8:17).  Therefore, if you find yourself in a dry season, know that God knows what you can bear. You may be in the first day and your hunger for God is known through growling. You may be in the third day and you are getting worried about the spiritual journey ahead. You may not be growling for food, but you feel weak and you know if you take too many more steps, you’ll faint. Be confident about this: Jesus cares. He cares that you’re exasperated. He doesn’t want you to faint on your walk with Him. He knows how many “days” you can bear. While you might feel hungry now, there’s going to be a time when he feeds you to the full and you will be satisfied with more than enough food. Then, one day in Heaven, you will say, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).

Believers, keep looking to the Savior who truly cares for you and entrust yourself to the faithful Creator (1 Pet. 4:19)!  If you have never trusted in the sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah, my encouragement is basically the same.  Stop leaning on your own ways to save you and entrust yourself to God and His salvation plan (1 Pet. 4:19, Jas. 1:7-10).

For all who have been saved by God, His promise stands:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5 b).


Gospel-Centered Love in Marriage

Russell Moore has written a piece talking about the recent statement that Pat Robertson said regarding a spouse with alheizmers.  I do not want to focus so much on what Robertson said as much as what Moore writes regarding marriage.  What Moore presents is an encouraging and challenging focus on the gospel and how it shapes our view of true love in marriage.

It’s easy to teach couples to put the “spark” back in their marriages, to put the “sizzle” back in their sex lives. You can still worship the self and want all that. But that’s not what love is. Love is fidelity with a cross on your back. Love is drowning in your own blood. Love is screaming, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.”

You can read the entire article at Christianity Today’s website.


Jesus Learned Obedience

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,” (Hebrews 5:7-9, ESV)

This passage, at face value, can seem to be full of confusion. I mean, how can the perfect Son learn obedience? What kind of encouragement are in these words? What does this teach us about Jesus?

Well, think of it this way. Think of learning how to read or write or do math problems. A teacher can tell you how to work the problems, and if you learn from her correctly, you will do exactly what she says. In a similar way, Jesus was taught by his earthly parents and the Father Himself. I every situation, Jesus was learning what obedience looked like, and He perfectly obeyed. He also used what He learned so that He could withstand the greatest trial – His death.

Think on this with amazement. God the Son submitted to being a human and learning obedience! Can we even fathom the depths of His love in doing this? The writer of Hebrews goes on to say that he was made perfect. That means that Jesus, through all His life, proved Himself as the Preeminent One to be worshipped and adored.

From all of these facts, we must see the beauty of Jesus. He was a man who had pains. He had to learn obedience, and through all of this, He reverenced God. Because of these realities, Jesus can truly “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Heb. 4:15). He knows where each of us are at today. He knows what you’re struggling with. He also confidently opens His arms up to you so you also can run and find refuge, hope and strength to obey!

Jesus learning obedience, His suffering and His perfection relates to your real life right now. Look to Him and submit your soul to the One who truly cares for you.

“Dear Lord, You endured suffering by simply becoming a human being. But, in order to experience the fullest extent of obedience, you desired to come to this earth and suffer for the sins of men! Now we can come to Your presence boldly with praise. Let us find rest and comfort in Jesus, the perfect source of eternal salvation. Amen.”


It Is Not Death To Die

Over the past couple months, I’ve been hit with the reality of death because of the sudden nature of it in a couple of friend’s lives (read another post here). I’ve cried and my heart has ached for those who are left in the trenches of this earth while a family member has been taken away.

Questions like: “Why?!” or “God, couldn’t You have done things another way?” have come to my mind.  I realize that death is a part of the fall, and it causes me to ponder.  I also want to follow through on the challenge from James 1:3 to ensure that joy, in all of its fullness, is coming along side of me – even in the darker moments of life.

There are a few things that I am learning: a) death is an obvious picture of the reality and consequences of humanity’s fall into sin and b) the hope we can have in the Savior even in the face of death.  Here are a few ways in which I see a picture of humanity’s fall into sin in the face of death.

  1. It takes over – without warning.  The fall into death through sin was the same.  We know that there was process into buying into the lie of Satan, but when sin was actually committed – experiencing the taste of spiritual death – Adam and Eve were taken by surprise by the extent of what “death” meant.
  2. It takes away potential joy.  If you have lost someone you love, you realize that you now no longer have moments with them to look forward to.  The same with sin.  Sin cost humanity real, deep and abiding joy.
  3. It is painful.  Many times, death is a painful process for the person who died.  Some are graced with simply falling asleep.  Others experience much pain.  With sin, it was (and still is) a painful death.
  4. It has the power to be destructive in other’s lives.  The death of a loved one is a trial, and like all trials, we can be tempted to give up and give in (Jas. 1:12-18).  Unfortunately, families have broken because of loved one who have died.  With sin, it has a destructive nature,  working to cause people to give up and die in their relationship with God – as happened with Adam.
  5. It can produce fear and anxiety.  This relates to the previous point.  When someone dies, we can become fearful in a myriad of ways – thinking someone else will die, thinking we cannot make it through, thinking God cannot be trusted.  As a result, we do not seek to get involved in people’s lives, but instead we hide, in our fig leaves, from God and from each other.
All of these parallels can help remind us that sin is serious, and death is unforgiving, but there is hope that the Christian has even in the midst of death.  Don’t miss this inexpressible joy that is promised in the next few sentences.  Jesus conquered death – the consequence of humanity’s fall into sin through Adam.  “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. . . . When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting'” (1 Cor. 15:20-22, 54-55).  The reality is that Jesus conquered death.  Even though we still experience physical dying in this fallen world, Jesus is making all things new so that we will be resurrected like Him with imperishable bodies.  It is Jesus who has taken away the sting.  Although we sorrow, we sorrow not as those without hope (1 Thess. 4:13).  We can cast our anxieties at God’s throne because He really does care for us (1 Pet. 5:7).  It is because of Jesus that we are offered joy in Him in the midst of painful tragedy of the loss of a loved one (Jas. 1:2).  It is Jesus who grants eternal life to those who trust in Him so that people can say, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).  In the end, believers, while still experiencing sadness because of the reality of the fall, can also experience great hope because of the reality of Jesus’ death, resurrection and second coming!

Therefore, in humility, sadness and confident hope, believers can say, like the hymn below, “It is not death to die.  Jesus has conquered the grave!”

It is not death to die
To leave this weary road
And join the saints who dwell on high
Who’ve found their home with God
It is not death to close
The eyes long dimmed by tears
And wake in joy before Your throne
Delivered from our fears

(Chorus) O Jesus, conquering the grave
Your precious blood has power to save
Those who trust in You
Will in Your mercy find
That it is not death to die

It is not death to fling
Aside this earthly dust
And rise with strong and noble wing
To live among the just
It is not death to hear
The key unlock the door
That sets us free from mortal years
To praise You evermore

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI) Original words by Henri Malan (1787–1864). Translated by George Bethune (1847). Music, chorus, and alternate words by Bob Kauflin