There was a time in my life when the thought of dying disturbed me greatly. I didn’t like to think about it at all. And whenever possible, I would not think about it.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
Sometimes I would lie awake at night, thinking about death. Other times I dreamt of death. During such nights I would awake with a start, my heart beating, in a panic, with terrifying images in my mind.
The worst experience of all for me was attending funerals. I dreaded them, I loathed them – walking into the church, the sound of the organ, down-turned faces, and nervous glances. And then the waiting, sounds of sobbing, people fidgeting, the feeling of being trapped. I look up and there it was – that dreaded casket, death’s box, staring at me. Death was there, in that box, and I could hear it calling me, taunting me, jeering at me, saying “Look long and look hard my friend, from me there is no escape.”
Then came the day when I was freed from the fear of death. Jesus set me free, because of what he accomplished for me on the cross.
The bible teaches death is the result of human sin. Death is God’s judgment on sin. Prior to sin, there was no death. Adam would never had to die. Nor would you. And nor would I. As soon as sin made its entrance into the world, we were all doomed to die.
Then came the Law of God – revealed to Moses and etched on every human heart. Instead of making things better, actually made things worse. God’s law tells us what we must do and what we must not do. When we fail to adhere to the commandments God’s hammer of judgement comes down upon us with terror and force because His law stands behind it.
Then came Jesus. He was a man just like you and me – except he had no sin. He satisfied all the demands of the law. Jesus could boldly stare death in the face and say, “Begone death – you have no power over me.”
But here is where things get absolutely stunning. Jesus gave himself over to death, for us. Pinned upon a cross, he bore in his body the penalty for our sin. He made my guilt his guilt. The Apostle Paul puts it quite plainly in his letter to the Galatians:
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed.” (Galatians 3:13)
God did this so that all who would believe in His Son may be freed from the curse of death. Because now the curse of the law is satisfied, sin is taken away, and therefore death is swallowed up in victory, so now the rescued ones can say,
“Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting? Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15:55–57)
This is the meaning of Good Friday. This is what Jesus Christ did when he came to earth to die upon a cross. He put the sting of death… to death.