" … the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10)
Um - the greatest ‘break-through’ ever – what was it? In Sport, we could name, well … Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics? Muhammed Ali? Roger Bannister and the Four-minute mile? Babe Ruth? The great Borg/McEnroe Wimbledon Final tie-break?
In Discovery and Invention, how about Isaac Newton and the Law of Gravity? Marconi and Radio? Einstein and the theory of relativity? The landing on the Moon? These pioneers crossed new frontiers. Humanity draws in its breath, and the world is never the same again.
But the last frontier to be overcome lies in the historic conquest of Death itself. The supreme accolade belongs to Jesus Christ, who ‘destroyed death.’ We read that He ‘appeared’ for this very purpose.
Christ is the great ‘Destroyer.’ At a single week-end in the Middle-East His death by violence looked like defeat – but in it lay the seeds of the destruction of death itself. In this way, He has ‘destroyed’ death. By this is meant not the disappearance of death - as a phenomenon - but rather of removing the sting, the power, the terror from it - much as the demolition experts will remove the fuse from a dangerous bomb, and make it harmless.
So with Jesus. Because of his own death, and subsequent resurrection, death no longer has the power to terrify those who belong to Him. As a church minister, I’ve seen many people on their death beds; they run into hundreds. I’ve observed that, in the context of Christ’s own and forgiven followers, there is a massive difference. Certainly, there may be pain - and grief on the part of the relatives - but the fear of the unknown has been stripped out of the occasion … and then – in eternity – the promise of a living resurrection body - like His!
Christ is also the great Illuminator. We read that He has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. Before Jesus, nobody knew a thing. The Greek philosopher Xenophanes admitted, ‘Guesswork is over all.’ Others would struggle with the tapping on the shoulder of Old Man Death. Then came Jesus… and the prospect has changed, for ever.
Christ is also the Great Divider. It is ‘through the gospel’ that the Death frontier has been beaten. If we are lovers of the Gospel, and have found salvation and forgiveness through Christ, then this Announcement means everything. But on which side of the Cross and Reurrection are we standing? Let us not stay on the Xenophanes side, of ignorance - or shrugging unconcern! Rather, we can make this our prayer:
‘Lord Jesus, with millions of others, let me too share in your victory over death. Let me claim - through Your Cross and Resurrection - eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and a place in your eternal kingdom. I put my trust in you this day, Amen.’