Death Where is Thy Sting

Title: Death Where is Thy Sting

Bible Book: Luke 24 : 1-9

Author: J. Robert White

Subject: Death; Resurrection; Death, Victory over



In 2 Timothy 1:10, Paul tells us that "Christ hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." Many centuries ago Anselm wrote a book, entitled, Why Did God Become a Man? There are many answers to that question as well as various interpretations, but you will not find a better answer than the one given in the Word of God. In the book of Hebrews 2:14-16, the writer speaks of the birth of Jesus Christ in this way: "For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that hath power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham." This deliverance from the power of death was affected by the death of Jesus Christ upon the cross, which was no accident! It was not the result of the High Priest being too clever or too powerful for Jesus; but was of His own design and purpose, voluntary and self-chosen. Only by dying could Jesus nullify the power of Satan over human life and the fear of death.

A few weeks ago I had a conference in my office with a mother and daughter. Very quickly I learned that the daughter had a very unhealthy, anxiety-producing fear of death. It was such a captivating fear that it was actually hurting the influence of her young and healthy life. I am certain that the fear that young lady was experiencing over the subject of death is not an uncommon fear among many of you here today. In I Thessalonians 4:13-14, Paul said, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not even as others which have no hope." Verse 14: "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." The Christian is not to fear death, as the non-Christian does, because the Christian has a hope that cannot be shared by those who have not entrusted their lives to Jesus Christ. You are not to feel and to act as those who have no hope because you have the greatest hope in all the world and that hope is the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

I hope that as we consider this subject today it will drive the fear and the anxiety of death from your mind and give you the deep peace and calm of Jesus Christ in your hearts. God's word strengthens our hearts against the hour when death comes, bringing healing for our concern.

I. The Fact Of Death

Before we can answer the crucial and critical questions about death, we must first face the reality of death. Mark Twain once said, "This life is a losing proposition; nobody gets out of it alive." The ancient Jews had an old saying that went like this: "In this life, death never suffers a man to be glad or joyous." Death is a reality. Every second that ticks by on the clock, somewhere in the world a person dies. There are 50 million deaths out of the earth's population annually. It is impossible to pick up the newspaper and look through it without seeing obituary columns and reading about tragic deaths.

What does the Bible have to say about death? The Bible says to us that we human beings are immortal, undying spirits living in a house of clay, which is flimsy, subject to disease, flesh, bones, and blood. The scriptures teach us that when death comes there is a separation of the spirit from the body. When the hour comes that the body is no longer inhabitable because of old age, disease, or accident, the Bible speaks of the spirit as moving out of the house of clay. The Bible says, "It is appointed unto men once to die." The Bible further says that for everything there is a season: there is a time to plant, there is a time to pluck; a time to sow and a time to reap; a time to live and a time to die. We cannot get away from it; it is a fact, and no one escapes it.

II. The Fear Of Death

Next, we must face this harrowing fear that we have about death. There are many things that seem to enslave us, but there is no enslavement quite equal to the enslavement of fear, no matter what kind of fear it might be.

Why is it that people fear death? The Bible indicates that there are several reasons. One of them is our fear of losing that which we have accumulated. Our fear of being separated from this mundane world in which we live and the material things which we have accumulated-houses, real estate, stocks, bonds, gold, silver, estates, pictures, medals that we have won, things that are very dear to our hearts. We cannot seem to bear the thought of separation from these material things.

We fear death because we anticipate the physical pain involved in death. However, death does not always involve physical pain. Many people slip out to meet the Lord while they are asleep, and there is no physical pain involved at all. Some die so quickly that physicians tell us there is no sensation at all. I had a friend named Lewis whose heart stopped one day when he was in a restaurant. There happened to be a nurse nearby who was able through CPR to revive his heart. He later told me that the only sensation he had was one of peace. He said, in fact, that it was such a peaceful experience he was disappointed when he was brought back. He said to me, "I will never again fear death." Still we fear death because it is unknown to us how we will die and we wonder if it will be painful.

We fear death because we do not want to be removed from familiar surroundings and those we love. Mothers and fathers who are protective of their families fear death because of the natural desire of a parent to see his children raised to adulthood. Husbands and wives fear death because of their love for each other and fear of separation or of living alone.

Perhaps our greatest fear is at the point of our sense of sin and our fear of divine judgment that follows death. After all, that is what God warns us about in His Word. "The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law." "It is appointed upon men once to die, but after that the judgment." So, with an over-whelming sense of guilt upon us, we hesitate to be plunged out into the unknown to meet God at the judgment. Death in our world was not God's original intention for His children. Sin and death are closely associated in the word of God. Ezekiel, the prophet, and Peter, the apostle, remind us that it is not God's will for anyone to perish, but that all would repent and be saved. We find in Genesis that it was not God's original intention that man should die a physical death. Have you ever wondered what would have happened had man never departed from obedience to God, had sin never become a reality in our world? I think we have a glimpse of it in what happened to Enoch when he walked with God. The writer of the book of Genesis records that "Enoch walked with God and was not, for God took him." The writer of the book of Hebrews says about him: (Hebrews 11:5) "By faith, Enoch was translated that he should not see death and was not found because God translated him. For before his translation he had this testimony that he pleased God."

III. How Christ Abolished Death

Paul says, and the entire Bible proclaims, that Jesus Christ, in the glorious resurrection of His body, has "abolished death." Right here we are not concerned with the many "infallible proofs" of His resurrection about which the Bible speaks. They are recorded as a fact of history. I want our focus to be upon the meaning of the word "abolished" in connection with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. "Abolish" means to make of no effect, to void, to make empty, to remove completely. This means that His resurrection emptied death of everything that death held in the way of fear as far as people are concerned. It does not mean that He has taken away the dissolution of the body. What he does mean is that Christ defeated death. It would no longer bring a frightful chill to the human heart. The eyes of the disciples saw their Master dying on the cross, waited through those agonizing hours and days, until resurrection morning; and then they watched in amazement as He came back to show them what was on the other side of death for the Christian. This is the good news of the Gospel. The poet has said it this way: "Flood has lost its chill since Jesus crossed the river." According to John on Patmos, Jesus said to him: "I am the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive forever more." Why, there was nothing left for these disciples to be afraid of! When Jesus demonstrated that He had abolished the fear of death there was nothing left for the disciples to fear. Jesus turned the lights on. Nothing dispels darkness like truth and light.

What did Jesus do to the fears that we have already enumerated? First of all the fear of losing that which we accumulate -- Jesus endeavored to get us to see that material things do not last, and that we are not to build our hearts, lives, hopes, dreams and aspirations upon material things that change and pass away. He urged us not to count as treasures things that moths and rust corrupt and that thieves can steal. "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

Then there is the fear of physical pain. There are at least two things which ought to be said about this fear. First, you and I ought not to anticipate trouble that has not come. The manner of our going when the end comes is entirely in the hands of a loving Father and not at our discretion. Second, Christ will be with us by His promise to give us the grace that we need in the hour in which we need it most. The verses of reference in the Bible are numerous. "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." "He will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able." "Low, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." "Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me." "I will neither leave thee nor forsake thee." "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."

Then there is the fear of leaving loved ones and entering the experience of the unknown. Jesus came back purposefully to tell us that on the other side there is joy not sorrow. The child of God needs not fear what God has in store for him. Jesus said, "In my father's house are many mansions." He tells us that His Father's home is more beautiful than anything that we have known here on this earth. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and neither has entered into the heart of man the things which God has provided for those who love Him." "If the earthly house of this Tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens."

The final and greatest of all fears is the fear of the burden of sin and of the judgment of God. Here, the solution is faith. Isaiah 53 contains these words: "He was despised and rejected of man; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: Yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed." I Peter 2:24 says: "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree."

IV.The Christian Concept Of Death

Jesus paved the way for a brand new concept of death. What should the Christian attitude be? Death is a doorway that admits us out into eternity and into the joy of God. There is no cessation of being; there is no eclipse of consciousness. The Bible tells us that we go right on living, living with the Lord. "To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord." Actually the trumpets of God ought to blast a victorious note every time we lay aside the body of a loved one who has died believing in Jesus Christ. It is a day of victory for that person.

Catherine Marshall wrote a book, entitled, A Man Called Peter. The story was portrayed in a motion picture. It is the biography of Peter Marshall, her husband, who was pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. and also Chaplain of the United States Senate. The last chapter deals with his fatal illness. Catherine Marshall tells about how the ambulance came for him during the night and when the attendants carried him out of the house on a stretcher, he looked up into her face at the door, and said to her, "Darling, I'll see you in the morning." These were to be the last words that Peter would ever say to Catherine this side of Heaven. However, there is great truth in those words and we can speak them with confidence as we bury our loved ones who have trusted Jesus Christ with their lives. We can shout; "I'll see you in the morning!"


The year was 1666 when Hugh Mackail, a young and brave preacher of the Gospel, was brought before his judges and condemned to the scaffold. They gave him four days to live; then back to Tolbooth the soldiers lead him. Many in the watching crowd wept as he went-he was so young, and his fate was so tragic. But in his eyes there were no tears, not a trace of self-pity or regret on the radiant, eager face of this young soldier of the cross. "Trust in God!" He cried. His eyes were shining- "Trust in God!" Then suddenly catching a glimpse of a friend among the crowd, "Good News," he cried, "Good News! I am within a four – day journey of enjoying the sight of Jesus Christ!" "Absent from the body; present with the Lord!" We can join Paul in shouting, "Oh death, where is thy sting? Oh grave, where is thy victory?"

Song: "I Won't Have to Cross the Jordan Alone."


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