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Catechism Class: LD16A Q40 Death!


The Deliberate Burial of Death?


Our instructor remains on the subject of the death of Christ in Q40.  He asks, Q40. Why was it necessary for Christ to humble himself even unto death? Ans: Because of the justice and truth of God satisfaction for our sins could be made in no other way than by the death of the Son of God.  

So, why DID Jesus have to DIE?  Would it not have been enough for the eternal Son of God to just have come into this world and set us a really good example of how God expects us to live? Why must he die?  After all, it’s lovely to think about a baby in a manger, but who wants to think about that same child, 33 years later, dying an agonising death on a cross, never mind think that it was my fault it happened.  Let’s begin our look at LD16 by setting the scene, looking at some current attitudes to dying and death.  Let’s call it, “Humanity’s Deliberate Burial of Death. 

Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away…
  • Death is something we don’t like to touch. In earlier times, when a death would occur in a community, neighbours and friends would rally round to help with the preparations for the funeral. Now we make a phone call, and professionals take over, at a cost of course.  We see the body of the deceased, well dressed in a coffin, so that the reality of death, with its smells and its rottenness is hidden from us.  And we call it ‘dignity.’
  • Death is something we don’t like to face up to. Occasionally someone in a grief stricken home will hand me a piece of paper, containing a poem or reading that they have copied and pasted from some internet site, and I have to try to explain to them, as gently but as firmly as I can, that I cannot read that poem for them, for in many cases what they are asking for is inappropriate and perhaps even untrue.  Here’s a popular example:  Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away to the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other – that we still are… I am but waiting for you. For an interval. Somewhere. Very near. Just around the corner. All is well.  To encourage a bereaved person to think that ‘death is nothing at all’ is to make light of one of the most significant, perhaps THE most significant event in the whole of their own life, a radical life-changing upheaval that wasn’t part of the plan, wasn’t their wish and can never be undone in this life.  There’s worse…

So we moderns anaesthetise ourselves against the reality of death, by avoiding its messiness and its physical presence, and by mythologising it away, until it becomes an occasion for the liberal application of sentimental placebos.

  • Death can be temporarily blocked from our minds by filling our minds with temporal or material possessions, as if the things that glitter in this life will somehow dull the mind to the reality that one day they will all be pointless, all gone…   Then – it happens and the questions start.   Why did this happen, why to us, and why now?  He or she had so much to live for.  Perhaps they had just been recently married, or had a young family, or a responsible occupation or an impressive list of qualifications; all of this has now ended, and it’s all been futile, all for nothing.   The book of Ecclesiastes perfectly sums up for us the futility of life, in the face of death, for death, says the Preacher, renders everything that ungodly people do and achieve in this world (‘under the sun’) utterly pointless.  Ecclesiastes 12:1-14  Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them… 6-7 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.  13-14, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil

It is only the work of Christ, on the Cross for us that makes anything that we do in this life acceptable to God.  The great difference between the death of an unbeliever and the death of a Christian is solely the effect of the death of Christ on the cross.  So, we are going to look at what happened at Calvary, and why, and what effect it has upon our lives, both in time and in eternity, and see why for the believer, death is not something to be feared, but something in which we can rejoice. 

Hebrews 2:9-15 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. …14 Forasmuch 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 had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Join in the class again next week as we continue to work our way through this important topic, and learn why the death of Jesus changes everything!

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