“The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:11-13
The Depths Of Death
by Anthony Jones
I grew up having a fear of death. I remember when I was about eight years old; my mother lost her friend to cancer. My mother didn’t allow me to go to the funeral, but I really wanted to go so I could better understand why he wasn’t coming to visit anymore. For many years after that, the thought of death brought a level of uncertainty and fear. I didn’t understand it, but I knew I didn’t like it.
I didn’t hear another word from this thing called “death” until my sophomore year in high school when I lost one of my friends. He was shot because he refused to move his car. I finally had the opportunity to attend a funeral. As I stood in line to view the body, I thought back to the day my mother’s friend died and how I’d felt about not being able to attend the funeral. I noticed the expressions of those in front of me as they glanced into the casket. Many of my classmates were crying as they frantically walked away in disbelief; as if trying to reject what they had seen.
Then it was my turn. I felt a lump in my throat and my feet suddenly felt heavy as lead. I looked down and saw him lying there. A lifeless body of what appeared to be my friend. It was him, but not him. It was as if something was missing. I tried not to stare and attempted to step away – but then it happened! A second glance into the casket, only this time I saw myself lying there. And to my surprise, it felt as if gravity was pulling me closer to the casket. My feet finally responded and I, too, frantically walked away as uncontrollable tears ran down my face.
I have been to many funerals since that day, but it wasn’t until I surrendered my life to Christ that I discovered that there is a complexity to death. In Psalm 86, King David prayed, “For your love for me is very great. You have rescued me from the depths of death.” The apostle Paul seemed to be infatuated with death. In many of his letters, he opens our understanding to the beauty of death. He wrote in Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” In his letter to the Romans, he wrote, “As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’” But then he goes further to say that nothing – including death – can separate us from the love of God.
There are depths to death that we only get a glimpse of through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. In 2 Timothy 2:11-13, the apostle Paul encouraged his young friend, Timothy, with a song to die for. He reminded him that without death, there is no resurrection; and without suffering and enduring through tough times, there is no reigning!
When you die to Christ, suffering becomes bearable – it is impossible to overwhelm a dead man! Paul wanted Timothy to know that when you are dead in Christ, nothing can harm or offend you. The life in Christ is a life of the cross, and the life of the cross is to die and to deny yourself daily!
The life of a good soldier in Christ, who is not entangled with the affairs of this life, is to pour out your life like a drink offering. Jesus died to be true to the will of God, and we must follow that same will – whatever light may shine or shadow fall. The Lent season gives us an opportunity to stare into the depths of death and not be afraid. When we die with the Lord, we live to speak to death with a song of the victor, Jesus Christ: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
FAMILY LENT ACTIVITY
Spend time as a family focused on Jesus and the cross. Do all of these activities at one time or mix and match throughout the week.
• Read the Crucifixion and Resurrection stories in the Jesus Storybook Bible (pp. 302 & 310).
• While talking about Jesus’ death and resurrection, use play-dough or clay to create a tomb, putting Jesus inside. On Easter morning have Jesus standing up outside the tomb.
• Talk about things that are alive and things that are not alive explaining that at one time Jesus was not alive, but now He is alive forever. How does the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the future hope we have in Him shape our view of death?
• Worship as a family by singing God’s Good Promises.
• Pray as a family.
Take time to be still before God and pray, using these starter prayers to guide your time.
• You are Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. You are my Shepherd and are with me, so I will not fear.
• I confess that I am delivered from this present evil world and I am seated with Christ in heavenly places. The Law of the Spirit has made me free from the law of sin and death.
• I thank you that nothing can separate me from your love. Thank you for sending Your Son, Jesus Christ, to conquer death.
Anthony Jones serves on the elder team at Cornerstone Church. He and his wife Tyanez live in Ames and have four children: AJ, Trinity, Taniah and Ashton. They have been a part of Cornerstone since July of 2016.