In the midst of all life, death is forever with us.”
–J. Lee Butts (Ambushed)
“Men of Galilee, why do your stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
–Acts 1:11 (NKJV)
Many people are slaves to one thing or another. Last week I came across a wonderful message to those who live in “slavish fear.” These people live in fear. Life becomes so overwhelming they are afraid to live. Even those who were close to Jesus were often afraid. John, while in exile, fell down in fear. Jesus told him not to be afraid.
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
Jesus wants us to live a life void of fear. He has risen to save us from the “slavish fear of life.” That’s right, many are afraid of life, afraid to live. Man, who wants to be autonomous, can never reach that state for he is always dependent. He is dependent upon God and upon others. From the richest to the poorest we are in need of “daily bread.” Nature must provide the means for our sustenance. Did you get in your car today? Think of all the times in your trip that you were dependent upon others. The car, it was built by others. The road was constructed by others.
Man often finds himself in fear of the mysteries of life. Once a person starts to think those mysterious begin to invade. One reason many do not like to quiet themselves is that they might have thoughts that they cannot answer flood their minds. We are to fear God, but in the right manner. As a Christian we fear Him because of His mighty natural attributes: eternal, infinite, omnipresent, immeasurable, and so on. There is the mystery of sin. How did it gain so much power? Perhaps it is better to not think of such things.
Man also is afraid to face the responsibilities of life. These are so numerous. How do I get through this? How can I ignore this relationship? How do I get through the demands of the job? Will I be a success in life or a failure? Will I measure up? In the job you are given a promotion and all these questions begin to fill your mind again. The end of the day comes and we go home exhausted from the demands of the job and then we are faced with the demands of the home–being a husband or wife, a mother or father. Oh me, oh my, too much, too much! Then Jesus reminds us that we are not to fear to live. Why? Because He is alive. He would say, “Whatever your task, your trust, your duty, your responsibility–fear not! Go to that task or that post without hesitation. Divine power and reinforcement are available for you.” We are not to fear to live, because He is alive.
Look at the second part of that verse. “He would deliver us from the “slavish fear of death.” Death – is it morbid and causes you to fear? Some people cannot live because of their fear of death. Some people will not attend funerals because “death” is there. They do not want to think of the subject and how they are mortal. Yet, Solomon says we should spend more time at funerals than at parties. Stop and ponder that–why? Death is serious; after death comes the judgment. Most cannot even remember what took place at the last party, but I imagine they can remember the last funeral they attended. One reason we fear death is that no one has come back to tell us about it. Ah, no one but Jesus. He conquered death–He is risen! In death we trust the Lord; He says, “I am alive and I will hold thee, and I will guide thee, and I will keep thee, because I have conquered death for all my friends.”
Now the last part of that verse. Man is afraid of what happens after death. Jesus has risen and is alive forevermore. The Christian has no need to fear of anything beyond death. Eternity belongs to him. The Lord Himself prepared a place for us. He is our hope forever. But there are those who will enter the curtain of death to cross over who have no certainty of what awaits in the realm of the unknown eternity. There is a judgment for the believer, but there is also a judgment for those who do not believe in the risen Savior. That person surely has reason to fear immortality.
The risen Lord gives us hope for life, in death, and for the unknown future of eternity. Because He is risen we can live life in victory and in cheer. Because He is risen we can face death with confidence that we will be resurrected as He is. Because He is risen we will walk the streets of glory with Him.
(Some of the thoughts and quotations are from a sermon by George W. Truett, “Jesus Is Alive”)
This day in the Texas Revolution: Sam Houston and his army arrive outside Harrisburg.