What is death? Is it the point when your life ends on earth? What happens then? Do you just cease to exist? Is it like switching off the computer? Everything just stops? Or do you go to heaven or to hell?
See, if we don’t understand death we’ll have a hard time understanding resurrection. I think for most people, resurrection just means coming back from the dead. In other words, someone switched the computer off, now let’s turn it back on again. We imagine that Jesus, when he was crucified and buried, was simply shut down like a computer, and when he was resurrected he was simply switched on again. All his memories were thankfully still on his hard drive and he didn’t need to reinstall his system.
And there’s a fundamental problem with that. It doesn’t understand death. Because death is not just a cold state. It’s not just your heart and brain ceasing to work. No, death, actual death, is separation from God. It is the moment where you are cut off from God.
And for some people this isn’t a frightening reality. But if we know that God is love – the source of all good things – then separation from him should be eternally frightening. If death is eternal separation from God, than it is a place where there is no joy, peace, love, goodness, kindness, forgiveness, satisfaction, or hope: it is more horrible than we can possibly imagine.
And for Christ, his death meant he too was separated from God. He was cut off from his Father and from all goodness. But because of his perfection – his sinlessness – death could not hold him. In fact, nothing could separate him eternally from God. And so his resurrection power. It is the power that conquered death itself.
This is the triumph of Christ. In taking on the sin of the world he bore the punishment of separation from God. But in his perfection, he resurrected. Perfect resurrection. The resurrection which means he will never suffer death again. That is the hope which we have been given. Not an earthly resurrection for those who follow Christ, but a divine one. It is the promise that we too will never be separated from God.
And so we find peace and hope in Romans 8:38 & 39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If you’ve read this, and desire to never be separated from God, then I urge you to declare Jesus as your King and Saviour today.
These were some thoughts from our current series The Remarkable Life of Jesus and our Strong and Courageous Life in Him. The message about the Resurrection of Christ from John 20 is available here and all our previous messages are available on the Sunday messages page. You can also download a Study on the same passage.