“I have no need to live forever.” I’ve heard that comment; maybe you have, too. And I wonder if a person might feel that way because “living” here has not been a satisfactory, fulfilling, or joyous experience. Or, more likely, I suspect, this statement is made because to live forever—well, we just have no idea what that might be like, and so it is hard to hope and dream that this might even be possible.
But here is something we can all relate to: Jesus came to free us from the fear of death. We are all acquainted with this fear; we’ve felt the demon of fear clutching at us as we consider our own death or the passing of people we do not want to lose. Death holds a grip on our thoughts and hearts.
The shadow of death hangs over every person born to a human life. And while young people are often more inclined to ignore it than their elders, every day takes each of us closer to the moment our earthly life will end. Physical death can be ignored, but it cannot be avoided. Our bodies, in their flesh-and-blood existence, grow old and die. We fear what lies ahead for ourselves and we fear the loss of others dear to us.
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying (Hebrews 2:14-15). NLT
Christ lived on earth under the same cloud; He was flesh and blood, and He would die. There was no avoiding it. And when we read of His agony in Gethsemane, we know that facing death and accepting that this was the Father’s will for His Son was no easy thing for Jesus. He was the Son of God, who would soon be given supreme power over everything on earth and in heaven—yet that night, He suffered as a human in the face of death.
But His resurrection was something new. When Christ—in His body—came out of the grave and again walked among His friends on earth, God was announcing to the world that the devil’s greatest weapon, death, has been conquered and need no longer be feared. For all who believe, the power of death has been broken.
I have to examine my own life. In what ways do I continue to allow the fear of dying control me? How can shedding this fear of death change my life? What freedom will that bring?
Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid.”
“Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave” (Revelation 1:17-18) NLT.
Years after He left this earth, the Son of God, alive and glorious and powerful, came to the apostle John to give him a glimpse of what was happening in human history and what is still to come in God’s plan for heaven and earth; and He commanded John to write a book recounting what he saw.
But faced with the appearance of his Lord in all His blazing glory, John reported that “I fell at his feet like a dead person.” (I probably would, too, if the Lord came to me today in such a way!)
Can you hear our Lord’s voice in His words above? His words reassure my heart and soul as they must have reassured John. “No need to be afraid. I am the beginning of all, the end of all. Everything exists in me. Yes, I died—but look! I am alive now and forever. And I have all power and authority over both life and death. Don’t be afraid.”
Isn’t that a comfort? The one we follow and call Lord is alive, and everything is under His control. When I try to peer into the future and feel tremors of apprehension, my Lord’s words quiet my soul.
Surely John must have recalled other things Jesus had said to His disciples: “Since I live, you also will live” (John 14:20). And as the Shepherd of our souls, Jesus promised, “I give [my sheep] eternal life, and…no one can snatch them away from me” (John 10:28).
“Don’t be afraid,” our King tells us.
Hope knows that death is not the end of us. God has planned an even greater future for those He has invited to become His children.
Lord Jesus, set us free from all our fear!