Death and Taxes
Here we stand on Good Friday, just a few days before April 15th, tax day. As the old saying goes the only certain things in life are death and taxes. And we are surrounded by both of them.
Death. The dictionary defines it as, “a permanent cessation of all vital functions : the end of life…”1 What a cheerful thought. But death is not normally a cheerful thing. It is the essence of finality.
Death is ugly. Death is dark. Death is mysterious and frightening. Say the word death with sincerity in the middle of a party and watch the fun evaporate before the sound of the word fades. Not everyone gets sick, not everyone gets well. Not everyone gets married, and not everyone pays taxes. But with only two exceptions of which I’m aware (Enoch and Elijah) everyone – absolutely everyone faces death. It is as near a universal fact as possible. There is a distinct certainty of death. More than any description I can fathom, death is above all characterized as a terrifying separation of the known from the
Tonight we’ve asked the question, “What is it that makes this Friday good?” the overwhelming answer is as the old Puritan called it, “The Death of Death in The Death of Christ”2. Do not let that simple phrase go past you without spending time to dwell on it. “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ”. Every syllable rings with meaning.
Concerning this if you have a Bible with you please open it to Hebrews 2:9-15. (Read it)
Death tasted for everyone
While I am most interested with the fourteenth and fifteenth verses let us consider at first the ninth verse of that passage, “we see [Jesus] because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that…he might taste death for everyone.”
From the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane the message is the same, Sin demands a death penalty. God warned Adam that he would die if he ate, and he ate. Since that moment every person born has been born spiritually dead with both physical and spiritual death our ultimate destination.
The only way to mitigate that death sentence was to let it be carried out. But the only way to survive that death sentence was to find a suitable substitute. The only suitable substitute was God himself. Therefore God’s own son was made a little lower than the angels so that he could become a man. He became a man with one life’s purpose: to taste death on behalf of everyone.
Because of his death, Jesus is today crowned with Glory and honor, because he chose to wear the crown, and go to the cross.
Again consider the fourteenth verse, “Since [we] share in flesh and blood, [Jesus] likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil,..” (Hebrews 2:14 ESV).
In order to overcome the one who had the power of death, Jesus had to endure death. But God cannot die, therefore he had to become just like us so that he could face death. There are two words used here. First the word for us that says we “share” in flesh and blood. It means that we all have the same things, we’re all made the same way. But the second word is used of Jesus, he “partook” of flesh and blood. It means that he also shared in it, but that he had to choose to do so. He didn’t have flesh and blood by nature of who he was. He chose to take it on. He became like us so that he could die like we are supposed to.
Now if the power of sin is death, it is our sin that gives Satan power over us in death. But if Jesus did not have sin but still died, than he alone had the authority to strip Satan of his power. And that is what happened at the cross. Satan attacked Jesus and killed him at the cross, but on that cross as Jesus died, Satan’s power was broken. The devil’s power is broken. Death no longer has mastery.
By His death Jesus frees those who have been afraid of death all their lives (Hebrews 2:15).
“The way to eternal life is through resurrection, but the way to resurrection is through death.”3 Jesus destroyed death by going through death and coming out alive. His death did not end with death, it was swallowed up in victory by his resurrection. Tonight we celebrate his death but on the third day, early in the morning we will celebrate his victory!
But what victory is there for us? If we come to the Father through Christ, if we accept his death on our behalf than we who have had Christ die for us will also have a claim in his resurrection. And thus we also will live forever as he
Death. For those who are in Christ through repentance and the obedience of faith; death is no longer dark, it is merely a shadow. Death is no longer mysterious and frightening for Christians, it is transformed from horrifying finality to a passage. Because of Jesus and only in Jesus death is no longer a destination but now only a journey. As J.I. Packer said, “For Christians the terror of physical death is abolished, though the unpleasantness of dying remains.”4
It is true that we may face death in this body, but through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, those who belong to Him will also experience His resurrection.
That is what makes this Friday, Good Friday.
Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Includes index.
Eleventh ed. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003.
John. Hebrews. P 70
J. I. Concise Theology : A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs.
Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1995, c1993.