is Death Like for The Christian
A. This evening we look at the final words from Jesus on the cross.
B. It is his seventh saying as he spends six agonizing hours upon Calvary. I would like to explore some things concerning these final words.
C. Listen to the control that Jesus has of the events surrounding His death. He has not lost control, but has death in His iron-clad grip!
D. And in that grip, He relinquishes control.
E. He dies – but not like normal people die – confused, fearful, in pain, trying to stay alive! No, Christ’s death at the last is easy, and releasing!
F. It can be the same for every child of God
A. The Darkness of the Crucifixion.
1. The context of this statement is amazing
2. Jesus has endured several brutal beatings, a fierce scouring with dual whips, mockery, lack of sleep from the previous night, fervent prayer resisting satanic attack in the Garden of Gethsemane, and now, over 6 hours on the cross
3. The final three hours of darkness was followed by two statements
a. Triumphantly, “IT IS FINISHED!”
b. And then quietly, “Into thine hands I commend my spirit.”
c. The final fulfilment of Scripture in His life (Ps 31:5)
4. The darkness faded as the sun was able to shine just as it set in the West
B. The Tearing of the Temple Veil.
1. Notice all the miracles that attended his death. So many miracles being wrought by him in his life, we might well expect some to be wrought concerning him at his death.
a. Darkness for three hours
b. Strength in His life even at death when He should have not lived so long
c. The tearing of the Temple Veil at this statement
d. The earthquake at His resurrection
e. The resurrection of the Old Testament saints at His resurrection
2. So, just as our Lord Jesus expired, at the time of the offering of the evening-sacrifice, and upon a solemn day, when the priests were officiating in the temple, and might themselves be eyewitnesses of it, the veil of the temple was rent by an invisible power; that veil which parted between the holy place and the most holy.
a. That veil symbolized the barrier between God and mankind
b. That barrier was broken by the tearing of the flesh of God in the flesh
c. That veil was a public testimony that the way to God was now open, because of the death of Jesus Christ as the final lamb, slain for the sins of the whole world!
C. But let’s get to the Crux - The Process of Death Itself.
1. What is Death For Unsaved People?
a. Part of the curse– the biggest part – was death (Gen 2:16,17; 3:19) – a terrible judgement of God on His creation – but it had to be because of SIN
b. Not an easy thing for people to face – we were NOT made to die
1) Just TRY to decide how you would like to die, or how you would attempt to commit suicide!
2) There is no easy way to die!
c. Death is the cessation of life - the halting of the miracle of life!
1) Evolutionists won’t admit to how miraculous life really is – especially compared to dead matter! Below is an advertisement for the new Apple Mac G5 computer:
a) When proteins “fold,” they form themselves into complex three-dimensional shapes that define the biochemical role they play in the body. However, when they fold improperly, the results can be disastrous: Alzheimers, MLS, cancer, and other diseases. So you can imagine how important the study of protein folding has become.
b) While researchers use computers to simulate protein folding, the computing horsepower required to simulate even one protein fold staggers the imagination.
2) Amazing how we say Dust to Dust – because between dust and dust is something so amazing and miraculous called LIFE
3) So, death in ALL situations is the result of something that is interfering with life – death is the judgment on a life (Rom 6:23)
4) There are THREE deaths for a sinner who has not been born again:
a) Spiritual Death – born spiritually dead (Eph 2:1) – already dead to God (1Cor 2:14)
b) Physical death – will physically die one day – because of sin
c) Eternal death – the agonizing death process that lingers for all eternity – the never dying death of a person’s soul – it is called the second death
d. So, just what happens when a person dies?
1) A vital organ fails or just stops working – the heart, lungs, etc.
a) You can live without quite a bit of your body
b) But you can’t live without your heart, your lungs, your kidneys, your stomach, your cerebral cortex, etc
2) Oxygen stops getting to the body’s cells, especially the brain
3) The brain goes into panic – there is a sting in death – a pain, a defeat, a loss (1Cor 15:55,56)
4) The body itself finally gives up living – even though the person has the intense desire to go on living
5) The soul departs from the casing of the body – it escapes and finds itself either in heaven, or in hell (Luke 16:19-23)
6) The spirit ascends back to God (Eccl 12:7)
2. For Christ
a. All his vital organs were working fine – He was still strong, even though beaten beyond recognition!
b. He had no panic
c. He purposefully breathes His last breath
d. He purposefully releases His spirit back to God’s care
e. He allows His body to die (Jn 10:17,18)
f. His soul went to Paradise, ahead of the thief on the other cross
g. They are words of Restoration.
1) Prior to the cross, there has been perfect unbroken fellowship between the Father, and the Son.
2) Jesus first word upon the cross was “Father” as he prayed “Father forgive them...” Now his final saying from the cross begins with this precious term “Father”
3) What a precious word, and how often it was upon the lips of the Saviour. His first words recorded in scripture were, “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
4) In the sermon on the mount Jesus speaks the word, “Father” 17 times.
5) In Jn. 14-16 the word “Father” is found no less than 45 times.
6) In the great prayer of Jesus in Jn 17 he uses Father an additional 6 more times.
7) Yet, here upon the cross, Jesus has spent the last three hours forsaken of the Father as the light of God’s presence is removed, and darkness hangs over all the land.
8) The first three hours he spent suffering at the hands of men, the last three he has suffered at the hand of God as “he has laid upon him the iniquity of us all”
9) Now all is finished, complete, Jesus had just spoken the words of victory.... “It is finished.” The cup of God’s wrath had been drained, the darkness is over, and Jesus once more enjoys fellowship with the Father.
10) He can once more speak to the Father because the Father is no longer removed from him. There has been recovery of that sweet precious fellowship between The Father, and the Son. Because Jesus suffered the loss of fellowship with the Father, and finished the work of God you and I can have a renewed relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Are you living in darkness, a life separate from God ? Then there is good news for you, you can have a restored, renewed relationship with God by coming to Jesus.
h. They are words of Rest.
1) After 18 hours of suffering, 6 hours upon the cross, the Son of God is exhausted.
2) After suffering violently by the hands of men, He now commits himself to the most secure place of them all.....into the Father’s hands.
3) The hands of God are a safe place, a secure place, a strong place, a satisfactory place. You can find rest in the hands of God.
4) Jesus said, Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
5) In John 10......I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my Father’s hands. My father which gave them to me is greater than all. No man is able to take them from my Father’s hands.
6) Do you have the security of knowing that you are in the Father’s hands ? Some people live a life of misery and doubt wondering all the time whether they are saved or not. Do you think Jesus died on the cross so that we could be miserable ? Do you think he suffered such things so that we could live in doubt ?
7) NO....he wants us to know, and we can know that we are saved, and secure!
i. They are words of Relinquishment.
1) Here is the aspect that separates the death of Jesus from any other. Every gospel writer follows the words of Jesus by saying that “He gave up the ghost”
2) Jesus has the power here to dismiss or relinquish his Spirit....this shows his voluntary death.
3) Recall words of Jesus... “I lay down my life......no man takes it from me. I have the power to lay it down....and the power to take it again!”
4) He relinquishes his hold upon His life. He breathes his last breath intentionally. He stops his heartbeat... and dismisses life from his body, and his spirit to God. No one has ever lived as he did...no one ever died like him.
5) Death for Jesus was not something to fear, but surrender to
a) Because His time HAD come
b) Because death was neither final, nor fearful!
j. They are words of Resurrection.
1) If he has power to lay it down, if he has control over his death, does he not have control over his life ? Certainly, he does.
2) Because he had the power to lay it down, he had the power to take it up again. That is the great, victorious message. We have a Saviour that laid down his life for the sins of humanity......he had power over his life......and after three days, and nights.......he was raised back to life.
3) For awhile there it looked as all was lost.....sinful men beating the son of God.....nailing him to the cross......abandoned by all.......dying in darkness........
4) But Sunday morning a light shines on the horizon.. the darkness like the stone has been rolled away... and we can shout the Joyful shout... he arose... he arose... hallelujah Christ arose!
3. The Christian’s Experience (1Thes 4:13-17)
a. Simply compared to falling asleep
b. No panic – no fear of death
c. Can relax and let death take control – because it is not really death, but a door
d. Listen to the words of God’s people
1) Paul (2Tim 4:5-8)
2) Jacob (Gen 49:33)
3) Stephen (Acts 7:54-60)
e. Listen to the last words of the world
Barnum, Phineas Taylor (1810-1891)
"How were the circus receipts in Madison
b) P.T. Barnum was the most famous American showman of all time. He began his career in 1835 when he purchased a very old hymn-singing slave named Joice Heth and exhibited her as the 161 year old nurse of George Washington. As an additional attraction, he added the preserved body of a FeeJee Mermaid--in reality the top half of a monkey sewn to the tail of a fish. By 1841, Barnum had earned enough to open the American Museum in New York City where his attractions included General Tom Thumb and--for a short time--Jenny Lind in addition to a host of animals and sideshow attractions. In 1871, he took his "circus" on the road and, ten years later, merged his operation with James A. Bailey's. After taking his "Barnum and Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth" on a triumphant tour of London during the winter of 1889-1890, Barnum returned to New York City.
Bernstein, Leonard (1918-1990)
Leonard Bernstein was the preeminent American
composer, pianist, and conductor of the 20th century. he became the
Musical Director of the New york Philharmonic in 1958 and later created a series
of legendary televised educational concerts for children. In addition to
three symphonies, Bernstein's compositions include West Side Story, Candide,
and Wonderful Town.
Bruce, Robert, King of Scotland (1274-1329)
"Now, God be with you, my dear children.
I have breakfasted with you and shall sup with my Lord Jesus Christ."
The grandfather of Robert Bruce lost his claim to
be King of Scotland in 1292 in a succession suit decided by King Edward I of
England. During the following decade, Bruce repeatedly switched his
loyalty between the Scottish independence and the king. Following the
execution of the Scottish national hero, William Wallace, in 1305, Bruce
committed himself to the Scottish cause and murdered his old enemy, John Comyn,
King Edward's choice to assume the Scottish throne. The next Spring, Bruce
was crowned at Scone and began an eight year military campaign to win back
independence that culminated with the historic English defeat at Bannockburn in
1314. He spent most of his remaining life fighting the English in Ireland
and along the Scottish border until England formally recognized an independent
Scotland in 1328. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his son, David II,
4) The joke of the old man dying between banker and lawyer
Diana (Spencer), Princess of Wales (1961-1997)
"My God. What's happened?"
Diana and Prince Charles divorced in 1996, shortly
after their mutual public confessions of adultery and infidelity. Within
the year, Diana had hooked up with the controversial international playboy and
millionaire deadbeat, Dodi Al Fayed. After an evening of partying, Diana
and Dodi hopped into their automobile along with their bodyguard and ordered
their drunk chauffeur to race through the streets of Paris in an attempt to
outrun the following paparazzi. Thankfully, when the big Mercedes crashed
in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel no innocent bystanders were killed or injured.
Princess Diana's last words were recorded in official police files.
Elizabeth I, Queen of England (1533-1603)
"All my possessions for a moment of
Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne
Boleyn, was the Queen of England from 1558 until her death in 1603. Her
reign is famous for the glamour of her court as well as the success of her
policies. By the end of her life she had outlived all of her friends,
suitors, and enemies. She spent most of her last days in partial
consciousness in a pile of pillows on her chamber floor but finally consented to
be placed in her bed just before she died.
Poe, Edgar Allan (1809-1849)
"Lord help my poor soul."
Edgar Allan Poe was a famous American poet and
author. He achieved national fame after publishing The Raven in
1845 and wrote many excellent and macabre short stories. His chronically
poor health was compounded by alcohol abuse, and he suffered what some
considered to be a nervous breakdown after the death of his wife in 1847.
8) General John Sedgwick, Union Commander, d. 1864
a) “They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist. . . .”
b) Killed in battle during US Civil War.
9) Oscar Wilde, writer, d. November 30, 1900
a) “Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.”
Conclusion - The Trial Ahead
A. Death haunts us all
B. Death will either be faced alone (if you are lost and without Christ) and defeated
C. Or it will be faced victoriously, as a Child of God, carried by the angels, straight into the presence of the Saviour!
D. Which will it be?
E. Thank God Jesus came and defeated the power of death, and removed the sting of death, and reversed the role of death, from that which is feared to that which is welcomed
F. By this knowledge, countless hundreds of thousands and millions dead at the hands of torturers during the Dark Ages
G. By this knowledge, Christians have faced sickness and war, and the unknown
H. All because where they were going was fully known
I. Thank God, Jesus showed us the way to the Father was sweet and so simple!
Bible Baptist Church Blarney
29 Westcourt Heights
Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland