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Resurrection Disciples Are Not Afraid of Death
When Peter was on the mountain where Jesus was transfigured he had the most amazing mountain top experience. He “felt” so good, and was so certain his faith could handle anything. Perhaps he remembered this mountain top experience when he declared, the day before Jesus was crucified, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Matthew 26:35). His mountain top faith must have seemed a distant memory when he denied Jesus the third time, heard the rooster crow, and remembered that is exactly what Jesus predicted would happen (Matthew 26:34, Matthew 26:69-75).
The Bible doesn’t tell us how the apostle Peter died. A long-held church tradition is that Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome, because he had denied his Lord, and he did not consider himself worthy to die as Jesus had. Again, this is only a tradition, and the Bible doesn’t confirm or deny the story. For Peter to die a martyr’s death took great courage. He could have denied his faith in Jesus Christ and lived, but he was no longer a mountain top disciple. He was now a resurrection disciple, and therefore he was no longer afraid of death.
The fear of death is very strong in our culture today. With many Christians struggling with Biblical illiteracy, more concerned with comfort rather than faithfulness, and therefore satisfied with a compromised and shallow faith, they look no different at funeral homes than people that have little or no faith. Are you a resurrection disciple? Are you certain that you do not need to fear death?
There are several promises that Jesus and the Bible teach about what happens at death. First, we must have faith in Jesus Christ to be assured of entering into eternity with God. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I amthe wayand the truthand the life.No one comes to the Father except through me.” Many people try to explain the many verses in the Bible that indicate that faith in Jesus Christ is not the only way to heaven, but the Bible is very consistent in what it teaches. Any other thoughts about getting to heaven are based on philosophical discussions. Resurrection disciples leave nothing to chance when it comes to their eternal destiny, and the truth and authority of scripture. If you want to live without any fear of death then faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of all is the starting point.
Also, heaven is an amazing place with no sadness, death, illness, with streets paved with gold, banquet tables everywhere, and most importantly, the gift of spending eternity in the presence of the creator of the universe. These are just a few of the amazing descriptions of heaven in the Bible. These descriptions take away all fear of death, and make going to heaven a great reward that I look forward to when my time comes.
When our loved ones die, it is sad, and grief is normal. It is important to have a time of grieving to let God heal us of our loss. Believing in the promises of scripture can make the healing so much more complete and draw us closer to God. Easter celebrates that Jesus rose from the dead, just as He told His disciples He would. Perhaps the greatest gift of all is that God promises us that as He raised Jesus from the dead, and gave Him a new body fitted for the resurrection life, God will do the same thing for you and I (I Corinthians 15).
We see in the gospels that after Jesus’ resurrection He was not limited by time or space, He ate with His disciples, and they recognized Him and were able to touch the wounds that were signs of His death. God will give us resurrection bodies for eternity with Him just like Jesus’ resurrection body, so we can be assured that there is nothing to fear about death.
Are you afraid of death? What areas of faith do you struggle with that cause these fears? When you go to a funeral does your faith lift others up, and give them hope? If you share tears with someone who is grieving are they tears of compassion or despair? Do you desire to be a resurrection disciple? As you celebrate Easter this year it is my greatest hope that you will desire to be a disciple that does not fear death.