Today I’ve been thinking about old age (see previous post) and death – two serious subjects for a beautiful spring day.
My father is struggling with the effects of dementia and it’s the anniversary of the death of my mother-in-law. Death and old age.
What is there to look forward to? Old age is often not pretty. The description of it from the book of Ecclesiastes (quoted in my previous post) is so apt:
‘Your hair turns apple-blossom white,
Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.’
It often includes physical, mental and spiritual challenges. And after the struggles of old age, what then?
As I am caused to think today about the death of my mother-in-law (which itself was a struggle), it would be easy to think there is not much to look forward to at the end of our lives, apart from pain, suffering and the anguish of separation from our loved ones.
But today is Maundy Thursday and we are also thinking about the death of Jesus Christ – and that death makes all the difference. All the difference to our lives and all the difference to our deaths.
Francis Schaeffer talks about the importance of Jesus’ death when he writes about His Transfiguration and what Moses, Elijah and Jesus talked about when they met together:
‘What would you think would be important enough to discuss at such a moment?….The only subject worthy of conversation at this moment was Jesus’ coming death….If Jesus had not died, if he had turned aside (as Satan tried to make him do so many times), if he had, in Peter;s words, actually had pity on himself and not gone on to the cross, everything would have been gone. There would have been no hope for Elijah, translated or not. It would have meant the end of Moses, the disciples, and everyone else, because the redemption of everything depends on the single focus point of Jesus’ death…..Jesus’ resurrection is certainly important. So too are his ascension and his teachings. But the welfare of every believer and the entire creation depends upon his death.’
It is the death of Jesus on the cross that makes sense of my life – and will make sense of my death. Because Jesus died, I can face tomorrow – whether life or death. When He died, He removed the sting of death.
‘“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (I Corinthians 15:55-57).
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.