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Why Should Death Be Proud?

A recent goggle search (4/22/09) on the question, "What is man's most common fear?" yielded about 14,700,000 sites discussing things people fear! The particular site I visited (www.phobia-fear-release.com) listed aracnophobia (fear of spiders) as the #1 fear, claiming half of women and 10% of men have a great enough fear of spiders that it can be classified as a phobia. Claustrophobia ranked #5, acrophobia (fear of heights) #6, emetophobia (fear of vomit) #7, and carcinophobia (fear of cancer) came in at #8. At #10 on the list of man's ten most common fears (according to this particular interne site) is necrophobia (fear of death). Whoa! Are people really more afraid of spiders than they are of dying? Or a high place. . . .or vomiting. . . or getting cancer? Really? More afraid of these places than of dying? And how about claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) at #5? Can you think of a more confining space or place than a casket or a grave? Sounds suspect to me. Evidence on every hand testifies mankind's greatest fear is, indeed, fear of death. The thought of being in a grave is horrifying to millions. Maurice Godbold of Hindhead, England, in pondering his own death, said in a letter to the London Times that when he died he wanted to take a crowbar with him "in case the affair proved to be premature." But it will take more than a crowbar to get out of the grave. Fact is, in spite of all our research and increased body of knowledge, every medical and technological crowbar man has used to try to pry and keep the lid off the tomb has proven impotent and useless. At best we prolong life a few months or years. One in three may eventually get cancer, but one in one will eventually die. Viewed from this perspective, death is indeed frightening.

This sobering reality is what makes (or ought to make) the Gospel such fantastically good news for every human being! The Bible boldly proclaims Jesus came to earth and partook of flesh and blood precisely so that "through death He might destroy Him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:14-15). Jesus's journey to earth is here depicted as a rescue mission to secure our release from the devil and death! While death looms large in the minds of millions, it is not as big a deal to God as it is to us. Not since Jesus took on the devil and death/the grave in a knock-down, drag-out, fight to the finish. At the cross it appeared the devil buried Jesus for good. But when the smoke cleared three days later on the first day of the week, the tomb was empty (Luke 24:1-6)! From that day to this, the devil's bragging rights over death and the grave have been taken away. John Donne (English poet and preacher, 1572-1631) said in a sonnet, "0 death, be not proud." The day is coming when death and the devil will die and be buried (Revelation 20:10-15). The Gospel gives hope, not that we can live longer, but that we can live forever. Why should death be proud? It has been defeated by Jesus Christ. Jesus said in John 11:26, "Whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. bo you believe this?" If you don't believe this, what do you believe?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ