A couple of weeks ago, I took my oldest son to Six Flags. We’re trying to make sure he doesn’t feel left out with the addition of the new baby, so it was just a time for he and I to spend some time together and have one last outing before school started back. The crowd that day was relatively small, so we got to ride everything we wanted to, plus we got to ride in the very front of some of his favorite roller coasters. This was a very special treat – most of the time the line to ride in the front is very long.
Riding roller coasters is a fascinating endeavor considering the forces that are at work. Once you reach the top of the first climb, Isaac Newton is in charge. The potential energy stored up at the top of the first climb is all you need to make it through the ride. Once you begin facing downward, unless something catastrophic happens, you are guaranteed to make it until energy runs out or the brakes kick in, which is usually back where you started. Sitting in the front is a wonderful platform to watch all of this happen. And you can rest assured, if your car made it to the end, all the cars behind you did as well.
While this is a good picture of physics, it is also a great picture of another important aspect of the resurrection. Jesus resurrection guarantees ours. This is the message behind 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. Because Jesus was resurrected, those who are saved by faith, through grace, will likewise experience a bodily resurrection. What a sight that will be, when the graves are unearthed, the tombs opened, and the remains of the Saints are recovered from the depths. On that day Jesus, the firstfruits of the resurrection, will bring all the Saints across the finish line as well.
Though we have this encouragement from Scripture, it seems that one of the greatest fears people have is the great unknown of what happens when you die. Admittedly, there may be many unanswered questions about our transition from this life to the next, but as Christians we do not need to be afraid. Jesus has crossed the finish line first. We will cross in due time. Death does not get the final say, Jesus does.
Truthfully, our final enemy is a formidable foe. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that it is appointed for all of us to die once. Of all of the enemies of God, we read in 1 Corinthians that it is the last enemy to wave the white flag of surrender. But it will wave the white flag of surrender. As we contemplate facing that foe, we must remain confident in the Scriptures and in the Son of God, that even the greatest enemy of God cannot destroy the people of God. There are better things coming. Death believed that he held Jesus by the throat, but in power, Jesus overcame this vile enemy. And in time, all of Jesus’ brothers and sisters will overcome this enemy as well. While we may never face this enemy with boldness, at the least we can face this enemy with assurance. Jesus was not stopped by death’s cold breath. The saints will not be silenced either.
In a mockery of death’s power, Paul reminds us that all those who have gone on before us are not really gone, just asleep. Death could not destroy them for they were busy being rocked to sleep in the arms of their Father. One day they will wake, and what a day it will be.
Are you ready to sleep?