Saturday, February 01, 2014

Are you afraid of death?

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TODAY'S SPECIAL: Hebrews 2:1-18

TO CHEW ON: "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Hebrews 2:14,15

If there is one fear that hounds us throughout our lives, it is the fear of death. Death is a state that raises so many questions: When will I die? Will I suffer? What then? Will I be aware? Does my after-life existence (if I have one) have anything to do with how I've lived my life? And on and on.

The inevitability of death and its meaning have been woven into the belief systems of all the various religions. The book of Hebrews author's claims that Jesus has destroyed the power of death is one of the most comforting and audacious.

Our passage implies or states outright several things about death:
1. It would appear that angels don't die: "But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death" (Hebrews 2:9) emphasis added.

2. Death is depicted in dark terms as part of the domain of Satan. It is called "suffering of death" and the devil has the "power of death" (Hebrews 2:9,14).

3. Jesus died. Literally (Hebrews 2:9,14). But He did not stay dead "But we see Jesus … crowned with glory and honour" (Hebrews 2:9).

Christ the Messiah's power and victory over death's chains is a theme that flows through scripture.
  • Psalms speak of freedom from the bondage of this fear - Psalm 107:14.
  • So does Isaiah - Isaiah 42:7; 61:1.
  • Jesus applied the latter prophecy from Isaiah to Himself (Luke 4:18),  and during His time on earth He demonstrated His power over death repeatedly by resuscitating  dead people - Matthew 9:25; Luke 7:14,15; John 11:43,44.
  • Paul interprets Christ's death and resurrection similarly to the Hebrews writer in Romans 8:2: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

So how does all this impact you and me? We need to put our faith in what Christ has done, that it actually happened, that it is for us as individuals, and that when we come to the border between life and death, we will find it is so.

I like how Leslyn Musch sums it up in her Truth-In-Action Through Hebrews commentary on these verses:
"Understand that Jesus has destroyed the power of death and released you from the satanic bondage of the fear of death. In faith, take hold of freedom" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1748.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for becoming human, subjecting Your self to death, and defeating it through rising again. Through faith in You, help me to live free from the fear of death. Amen.

Unless otherwise stated all scripture quotations are taken from the  New King James Version (NKJV) Used with permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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