Death is a subject that the Bible talks about a lot. Sometimes graphically.
It starts in Genesis 2:17 when God says to Adam, “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
It ends in Revelation 21:4 when God’s messenger reveals what it will be like in heaven at the end of time. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Referring particularly to people, scientists don’t like to admit that they don’t know what death is. They prefer to say it’s an ‘incompletely understood phenomenon’. They want to measure things such as mobility, brain waves and heart beats. We need to turn to the Bible for answers.
Jesus said in Matthew 26:24, “the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago.”
We all die. Adam died. Jesus died. You will die. What is death? A related question is this. Why does the Bible mention two deaths. The book of Revelation mentions the second death in chapter 21 verse 8.
“Cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
To put it as simply as possible, death is the absence of life. This is just the same as with light. Darkness is absence of light. Darkness and death are not powerful forces on their own. They are merely the absence of light or life. We cannot overcome darkness and death, because we cannot produce light or life.
Two passages in particular illustrate this truth. The first is Genesis 2:7.
“Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”
There existed first a physical body. God created man, but the man was not a living person until God had implanted his spirit into it. Until then, he was dust of the ground.
The second passage is in our reading this morning. When Jesus passed from life to death, he released his spirit. Matthew 27:50 says, “Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.”
The spirit of Jesus separated from the physical body of Jesus, and Jesus was dead.
That is physical death. The Bible also talks about spiritual death.
Jesus said in Luke 9:60 that those walking around may still be dead.
“Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
John says about this that it is those believers who love each other who are spiritually alive.
1 John 3:14 – “If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.”
If you are an unbeliever, then right now you are dead. If you are a believer who doesn’t love your brothers and sisters in Christ, you are still dead.
You should fear that moment when your physical life will end, because at that moment you pass out of this body. If you are dead at that moment, what sorrow and wailing as you find yourself in the place of the dead. That place is called hell. It’s a place without love. There is no hope, only eternal regret.
“Anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.” (John 3:36)
God does not want that to happen. He loves you. He is desperate to save you from that. He has devised a plan for your salvation.
“All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” 2 Samuel 14:14
Matthew 10:28 says we should not “fear those who kill the body, but those who can take away our spiritual life.”
It is impossible for man to make himself alive. The world is ignorant about this, but the Bible shows it to be true. Whatever you do, you cannot gain life. The proof of this was provided by God in his commandments to the Israelites. As perfectly as they obeyed his commandments, they could never gain life from them.
“Sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.” (1 Corinthians 15:56)
The first man, Adam, became a living being when God put into him his Holy Spirit.
When Adam sinned, he died. That means the Holy Spirit left him. He became a walking dead man.
How can a walking dead man become alive?
We need to have the Holy Spirit within us. If God was able to simply go around to each person and pour his spirit into them, then he surely would have done that.
Anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. God sent Jesus so that we could have life.
Jesus said: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 esv)
Jesus was unlike any person since Adam. God’s Holy Spirit lived in Jesus.
Jesus was alive. God sent him here so that we could be alive.
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” (John 11:25)
So why is Jesus going to die on Friday? This Friday is called Good Friday. We shall have a short service here to remember that just before sunset on that day, Jesus died.
His very own disciples did not understand how that would help them. We may also find it hard to understand how the death of Jesus could bring us life.
When Jesus died, he was dead. Jesus the man could not bring himself back to life. God was the only one who could do that. God brought Jesus back to life. God the Father performed the resurrection of his son.
“God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.” (Galatians 1:1)
“The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33)
God will do the same to us. After Jesus left, the Holy Spirit came. Each one of us can now be cleansed of sin and filled with the life of God.
John said he wrote his account of Jesus life “so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.” (John 20:31)
This is only possible because of Jesus sacrificial and obedient death. God’s son, the only perfect man, is the one who brings life and enables us to escape eternal death. The man who is God, died for us. Without Jesus, we are dead and we remain dead.
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” (Romans 8:11)
When we are filled with God’s life, when we overflow with the Holy Spirit, we are truly alive. Then we have the promise of eternal life. We also walk in God’s life. As living beings we are changed now. God says in Joel 2, quoted in Acts 2: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below.”
Being alive is a whole lot more exciting than being dead. God wants us all to be alive and so he sent Jesus. Because of Jesus, we can be filled with abundant life. You don’t need to be dead. To be alive you need only to believe in Jesus, and then to love each other.