I’m so unsatisfied with the way society deals with death. It’s an increasing frustration, as I observe the latest tribute package on the nightly news bulletin, or attend yet another funeral service.
The way people speak about death, the way people act around death, the way people relate to death – I find deeply dissatisfying. The very fact we tread so lightly around the issue if proof enough we are scared of unsettling the weight of unresolved complexities that surround this topic.
We say a few nice things about the deceased, pedal some insubstantial rubbish about their spirit living on and move on to the next thing – clinging to some empty hope. Is that how we should treat the cancer patient? Is that how we should treat the car crash victim? Is that how we honour the dead?
Is that really how we should be dealing with this topic? Are we managing death appropriately? As one of the only certainties in life, I’m convinced we need a new approach.
So what really happens when we die? Answering this question is key. It’s our lack of certainty that leads to our inappropriate response. If we can answer this question with clarity and assurance, we transform the way we deal with the topic.
Jesus provides a solution to this dissatisfaction. In the account of his life recorded by John, Jesus says delivers these lines: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” It’s a remarkable statement, and if true, should revolutionise the way we speak, act and deal with death.
Jesus begins with a statement, ‘I am the resurrection and the life’, and then explains himself. ‘The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live’ is a reference to resurrection.
That’s what Jesus means when he says I am the resurrection. Life from amidst the pain of death, life despite death. He continues explaining. ‘Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’ That’s what Jesus means when he says he is the life. Permanent death is not part of the journey for those who live and believe in Jesus. They pass through death, to life and life eternal.
Resurrection and life are two sides of the same coin. Jesus says he is the resurrection and the life, and offers us both. He follows up that remarkable statement by posing a question: Do you believe this?
It’s a question worth the attention of everyone. If the answer is yes, it makes a huge difference. If the answer is yes, death has been transformed. It is no longer an awkward and delicate subject. It is no longer the end. No more false hope, no more empty words. Surely that is worth considering. So, do you believe this?
Liam Denny is a former radio journalist and newsreader, now working to bring the good new of Jesus to media workers in Sydney through the ‘Christians in the Media’ ministry. In his spare time, you’ll find him having coffee with his wife Jenny in cafes around Sydney’s inner west, playing sport and taking his dog for a swim in the harbour.
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