We live in a world preoccupied with death; from the morbid images of the zombie genre films, to death metal music, to the oppressive occult practices, to our youth counter-culture, to the older generations preoccupation with preserving life … people are obsessed with death in fearful and hopeless ways.
Death is portrayed quite differently in Scripture. Psalm 116:15 says precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Paul considered death his reward and inheritance. And in John 11 Jesus said, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad.” How can this be? Jesus loved Lazarus; He wept at his grave, yet he is glad? Can death possibly be a cause of rejoicing?
As believers we do not fear death; we may be sad that we will no longer see the ones we love, but the “sting of death” has been removed because of the resurrection of Christ, and we know that one day we will all exchange this mortal body for one of immortality. Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus was sleeping; for the believer, death is like sleep; it is harmless, even refreshing and restful. This is so because Christ tasted of the second death fully in place of those who believe on Him. Because He experienced separation from God on the cross, we will never be separated from Him. In Christ, physical death is merely a shadow as we quietly pass from one life into the next. Death is never final; it is always followed by life. This means that we must surrender trying to run our own lives, and give up the things that appear precious to us; we must die to self and take up our cross; so that we might live to Christ – that is to live by faith in the Son of God. Are you dead to self? Do you make Jesus glad?