Jesus Christ took the Serpent’s head and bruised it. Yes, He was crucified; and yes, He died; and yes, He also rose from the grave; therefore putting death to death! And you can escape death, too, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! And so death can be not your final destination!
My grandmother, Rosita Abella, died this morning (7:05 PM Philippine Standard Time, July 17, 2015). She was a loving mother to 12, a hospitable grandmother to 50, a caring great-grandmother to 70, a friend to many, and a faithful believer in Christ. She lived graciously for 89 years. She is survived by David, her husband of almost 70 years.
Death is a terrible enemy. Ever since the beginning of mankind, death has been our enemy. It is a devourer of life. It devastates moms, dads, wives, husbands, children, relatives, friends, etc. Whether it be through sickness, accidents or premeditated murder, death destroys cherished relationships. Two other relatives have also died recently, in fact, in just the past 4 weeks! Marlou, a cousin, died while the rest of his family was burying Perigrino, their father, my uncle. It obviously broke the hearts of Marlou’s wife, Virgie, their little ones, and many others. Death is a terrible enemy! It takes the old and the young. Paul Alimoren, a dear friend of my family’s, only 18, succumbed to death’s grip after rescuing his friends from a rumbling and raging rip tide at Ocean Shores, WA. To date, we have not found his remains. Death takes the weak as well as the strong. “Doc” Mat, U.S. Army airborne sergeant, veteran of the global war on terrorism, came home from drill one Sunday night and death took him by a vehicle crash on a U.S. highway.
Death is the effect of sin. Steve Jobs is credited to say that, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”
Contrary to what Jobs said, death is the effect of sin rather than an agent of life! Death is a poignant reminder of the result of original sin. Death became a certainty because of the sin of our forefather, Adam. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 5:12).
Jobs is right that death is the destination we all share; but he is wrong to say that no one has ever escaped it. (Jobs is also wrong if he assumed that death is the final destiny we all share. There is life after death.) In fact, there were at least three people who escaped death. Enoch was translated into heaven because God enjoyed his walks with him on earth. Elijah was taken up into heaven on a chariot of fire because God delighted in his prophetic ministry. Jesus Christ took the Serpent’s head and bruised it. Yes, He was crucified; and yes, He died; and yes, He also rose from the grave; therefore putting death to death! And you can escape death, too, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! And so death can be not your final destination!
Death died. The Second Adam, in the person of Jesus Christ, put death to death. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). Yes, death died, and it will be no more! “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). In the new earth “there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). This is possible only because Christ put death to death! And you and I can have this destiny when we humbly realize the work Christ has done for us. “Therefore as by the offense of one [that is Adam’s] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [that is the Second Adam, Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (Romans 5:18). Christ came to redeem and make new what the first Adam messed up!
Fess up to Adam’s mess ought to be our Biblical response and it is what God requires. We were in Adam’s loins and were complicit when he willingly disobeyed God’s one prohibition. (The fact of the matter is we would have done exactly the same sin, too, if we were in his stead!) Through the empty hands of faith, call upon God to ask for forgiveness of your personal sins. God promises to give you mercy and grant you grace when you humbly bow before Him. He promises to reconcile you to Him by giving you Christ’s righteousness in exchange of your repentance (the attitude and act of turning away from sin towards the direction of God’s way of living). God made Christ–this Jesus Christ who knew no sin–to be sin for us; that we may have the perfect righteousness that God requires!
Bertrand Russell was once asked whether he would be prepared to die for his beliefs. “Of course not,” he replied. “After all, I may be wrong.” While I admire his honesty, I’m sad to say that Russell was wrong. He was wrong because de didn’t put his trust in Christ. Lola Rosita was prepared to meet her Maker. Because she had a testimony that she believed in Christ. She realized that her true nature was broken and marred by sin; not only by the sin that she inherited from Adam but also by the sins she knowingly and willingly committed. Lola Rosita humbly acknowledged this truth, and so should you.
My grandmother had a serene testimony that she couldn’t have prepared to meet God by her own merit or goodness. Through faith she asked God to grant her Christ’s perfect righteousness to be hers! This is the only reason why I have the confident hope that we will see her again. Though now she is dead, she lives and is in the presence of God. Those of us who have exchanged our sinful lives with Christ’s perfect righteousness will see Lola Rosita again!