I attended my church’s Good Friday service last night. While I was sitting there listening to the familiar story of Christ’s Passion and death on the cross, I couldn’t help thinking about a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness.” (J.K. Rowling)
Death is the one certainty that represents the biggest unknown in our lives. As the service went on, we prayed and said the words to Martin Luther’s Explanation to the Second Article.
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord.
He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death.
He did this that I should be His very own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in eternal righteousness, innocence, and joy; just as He is risen from death, lives and reigns in eternity. This is most certainly true.
The death and resurrection of Christ is the defining event in the Christian faith and I thought that if one believes in that event, i.e. if that is the foundation of one’s faith; then that belief should remove the fear of death. The next thought I had was one of wondering what someone has who has no faith? If you cannot find hope and comfort in the belief of life after death, then what do you have. Nothing? It’s no wonder those without faith fear death.
Man’s fertile imagination has allowed him to conjure up many different ways to express the concept of God and his need to organize and manage the process of expressing that faith has resulted in hundreds of religions. Even within the religions based upon the belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God, the hand of man has resulted in hundreds of implementations of the practices of that faith and the concept of the church as a vehicle for those practices. The religious chaos that grew out of all of this has fueled the argument of the cynics who have no faith in God or anything else. They are unable to put aside the trappings of the various religions and get to the core of them all, which is a belief in God and a faith that an afterlife exists.
As we head into Easter Sunday, we put aside the dark and somber meditations on Christ’s death and turn our attention to the joyous celebration of his resurrection. That is how we overcome our fear of death. Life after death may still be a great unknown for us, but we believe in it and look forward to the promise of “a peace that surpasses all understanding”.
He is risen! That’s all that we need to understand.