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Does the Resurrection Conquer Your Fear of Death?April 3, 2023
In “Living Beyond Our Fears,” by Bruce Larson, a judge in Yugoslavia accidentally electrocuted himself by turning on a light while standing in the bathtub. His wife found his body on the bathroom floor. After being pronounced dead, his body was placed in the basement under the crypt for twenty-four hours before his burial. In the night the judge came to, realized what had happened, and went to tell the guard, who ran off terrified. When he called his wife, he got as far as, “Darling, it’s me,” before she screamed and fainted. He went to homes of friends who were sure he was a ghost. Finally, he called a friend in a distant city, who didn’t know of his “death,” and the friend interceded for him with his family.
When the divine enters the world, it can be a frightening experience. We see this vividly when Jesus’ birth is proclaimed. “Do not be afraid,” the angel assured Mary, “For you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30). Many times, Jesus had to calm the fears of those around him. “Do not be afraid, your faith has made you well,” the healer said (Mark 5:34). “Do not be afraid,” he said to the anxious father who thought his daughter was dead. “Only believe” (Mark 5:36).
“Do not be afraid,” an angel said to the women at the tomb. “He is not here” (Matthew 28:5 ff.). The fear of the women is understandable. Wouldn’t you have been scared out of your wits if you had walked into an empty tomb that wasn’t supposed to be empty, and been confronted by a heavenly messenger stating that Jesus was risen from the dead? After all, we have been terrified by circumstances much more earthbound and this worldly.
The lab test shows the tumor is malignant and the prognosis is poor. Fear grips us by the throat. The child darts in front of the car, and we hear that deafening dull thud. Life does not always conquer death. Your spouse announces s/he doesn’t love you anymore and wants a divorce. Fear grips you by the throat. Life does not always conquer death. As one pastor writes, “There is not one of us, who, at one time or another, has not experienced the hot flash of fear and disbelief. We know something of the holy terror the women felt as they entered the empty tomb.”
But on Easter Sunday Jesus’ resurrection changed all of that. When life does not conquer death, Jesus does. When He healed the sick, preached God’s love and saved the souls, they thought it was all very impressive for the King of Israel. But when he rose from the dead, they realized that all he had done had been done by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
This was the lesson Philip’s classmates would learn. Philip was born with Down’s Syndrome. He loved his third-grade Sunday School class but was not always accepted by the other eight-year-olds. One Sunday after Easter the teacher brought Leggs pantyhose containers that look like large eggs. On that lovely spring day, the children were told to go outside and put something in their egg that reminded them of the new life of Easter.
Surrounded by the children, the teacher began to open them, and everyone would ooh and ahh when they saw the flower or leaf or other item. When she opened Philip’s there was nothing inside. The children exclaimed, “That’s stupid. Somebody didn’t do their assignment. Philip, you don’t ever do things right!” one student retorted. “There’s nothing there!”
“I did so do it,” Philip insisted. “The egg is empty just like Jesus’ empty tomb!” The children nodded in appreciation. From then on Philip became a full member of the class. He died not long afterward from an infection most normal children would have shrugged off. At the funeral the teacher led the class up to the casket, not with flowers, but each placed an empty pantyhose egg in the casket.
On Easter we celebrate that Jesus Christ alone conquers fear, sin, evil, and especially death. Jesus is with those who are sick, and those who lose children. Jesus is with those from broken families. He is also with all of us when we celebrate life, and God’s promises of new life and the sure hope of the resurrection. ALLELUIA. HE IS RISEN. HE IS RISEN, INDEED! Let us proclaim this Good News to all who will listen!!! Make sure you are celebrating the greatest gift you have ever been given, Jesus Christ, in one of the Lord’s houses of worship this Easter Sunday. (To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles see, www.lagrangepres.org).