By John Buckley Sleadd
I will die someday. So will you. Most of us will not persist beyond the age of ninety. That’s because death happens. We wear out and die. Or get killed.
What Is Death?
Death is a natural part of our human experience. Death is the cessation of life. Death marks the absence of metabolic activity and the presence of decomposing activity. The living are always just a day away from decay. And few of us know that day.
Death is the dark bar marking the end of our life’s musical score. It is the “not to be,” uttered in every Hamlet’s soliloquy. Death is the closed curtain, lights off and locked doors of our community-of-the-living theater.
Death is cause for grief. Death is grave disappointment. Death is a journey with no return. Or is it?
Where Did Death Come From?
One might well wonder how such a thing as death could arise under the sovereign rule of an eternal and almighty God. A living God. The answer is that God is the Divine Playwright and he stages His cosmic show according to His own good pleasure. “Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,” (Psalm 135:6a). “All things were created through him and for him,” (Colossians 1:16b).
All things are at God’s disposal in His divine redemptive drama. Therefore darkness yields contrasting service to light, evil yields contrasting service to good, and death yields contrasting service to life.
God has created death as the costly consequence of human sin, which came to us, courtesy of our first human representative, Adam, man of the earth.
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, so death spread to all men because all men sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
“For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23a)
“All have sinned.” (Romans 23a)
“It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
How Can God Die?
Here’s where things get mysteriously marvelous. God himself suffered death.
“At the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6b)
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” (Romans 5:10)
But how can the eternal and almighty God? In one sense He can’t. God the Father is Spirit and cannot die. But God the incarnate Son can. And did. After all, He is Drama King and He does what He pleases. Jesus is fully God and while on the earth was fully man. Therefore, his human body actually died on the cross to atone for the sins of His elect.
Dead, But Not Dead
We Christians know that this is not the end of the story. The grave could not hold Jesus, whose body saw no corruption. He rose and He reigns and He has promised to return at an unexpected time. Talk about dramatic suspense.
Years ago, the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, wrote that “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.” Nietzsche was sadly mistaken. God is not an idea to be extinguished. He is the Lord of life and He judges the living and the dead. When Nietzsche died, he stood before God for judgment. Each of us will do likewise. Are you ready to meet this God?