2 November 2011

Death: Great Invention or Great Enemy?

Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of technology company Apple, died last month from complications resulting from his pancreatic cancer. He will be sorely missed, not just by his wife and children, but also by his millions of adoring fans. Steve was a world-class inventor: the iMac transformed the way we did computing, the iPod transformed the way we listen to music, and the iPhone transformed the way we communicate. Back in 2005, shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer, he said these words at a university graduation ceremony:

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”

It was a stirring and beautiful speech, but upon reflection his words simply fail to match our own experiences. At a funeral, when you see the coffin being lowered into the earth, have you ever thought to yourself: ‘What a great invention death is!’? As you witness the crematorium curtain slowly closing, have you ever thought: ‘Well, out with the old and in with the new!’? Of course you haven’t. Death is horrible.

Death is our enemy. At death we lose everything – our money, our achievements, our fame. At death we lose everyone – our family, our friends, our fans. But Steve got it right when he said that death is the destination that we all share. The Bible explains that we all must die because we’ve all rebelled against God: we ignore him, we try to live our lives without him, and then we plug the gaping hole with all the great things he so lovingly gave us. Because of how we have treated him, death is what we all deserve.

But it is not necessarily the end. Steve said that ‘nobody has ever escaped death’ – but there is in fact one man who did! The overwhelming historical evidence shows that Jesus Christ died, and then three days later came back to life. Jesus willingly took upon himself the penalty of death that we deserve, and through the power of his resurrection he broke its stranglehold over us. We all must die. But the question is whether we will die with Jesus, or without him. The apostle Paul explained that anyone who trusts in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour can share in his victory over death:

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. (Romans 6:8)

Death is our great enemy, but Jesus is even greater, and he is worthy of your love, trust and worship. Come find out more at St George’s.

Andy Palmer
Men’s Worker