Thursday, December 22, 2016
The Irony of Death and Christmas
Death has hit my family and I once again as we faced the burial of my brother, Mark, Monday, December 19th, just days before the celebration of the miracle of Christmas.
Almost seems ironic to write that in the same sentence, death and celebration; death and miracle; even death and Christmas. But isn’t that what the idea of Christmas brought? Death. God sending His Only Son Jesus to be born into the world, to live a sinless life and become a sacrificial lamb, to take upon the sins of the world and to DIE, so that we ALL may have eternal life. Even those the world counts unworthy. Those like me. Wretched one that I was. But God.
The miracle of Christmas… Jesus coming to earth and being born TO A VIRGIN in a manger. The celebration of Christmas… remembering what it means that “Unto us a Son was born, unto us a Son was given and He shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and of His Kingdom that shall be no end.” Death and Christmas… the reason Jesus was born. To die. To save the world from their sins. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see. Christmas!
Now I know just the idea of Christmas gets some people worked up. I hear it all the time. Oh, it’s a pagan holiday! Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th! Christmas is so commercialized. Whatever. For those who want to deny it and refuse to celebrate it for whatever reason, it’s insignificant to me, really… Jesus WAS born. It doesn’t matter the day He was born, Sunday, Wednesday, or Thursday. It doesn’t matter the date, the 22nd, the 25th, the 14th or the 31st; the time, or really the time of the year. Don’t get so caught up on that or you’ll miss the message. JESUS CHRIST WAS BORN. For if you deny that you deny His very existence. And He had to be born FIRST, so He could die. And with that death, came victory. OUR VICTORY. Our victory over death. O, death, where is thy sting?!
Death and Christmas equals victory. Victory over oppression. Victory over sickness, victory over poverty, and yes, victory over death. Yes, victory over death!
This I know is an extremely hard concept to grasp, as the disciples told Jesus, we’re going to have our faith increased to grab hold of it. And I have struggled with that over the past year and a half following Joseph’s death, and then my mother-in-law’s death last Spring, and even now with my brother’s death, in this season we call Christmas. The time of miracles and celebration.
But at the same time, I can’t help but to be encouraged, because in the words of Jeremiah, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope, it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed. His compassions fail not. They are new every morning.” God is faithful to remind me of this Scripture that He gave me as part of a foundation when He first saved me over 16 years ago, 1 Corinthians 15:55 “Where, o, death is your victory? Where, o death, is your sting?” I really never understood why, being a baby Christian at the time, but He has always spoken from it and continues to do so time and time again, reaffirming that death is NOT the end. And it has been defeated, no matter what it feels like in the natural.
While we ache for our loved ones on the earth (as I do), it stinks and it does sting (in the natural). But as we are called to be spiritual beings, believing what the Word says, death has no victory, therefore it has no sting. Because not only has it been defeated it is NOT the end. Life is only beginning for our loved ones. And if we receive Jesus and believe what He has done for us starting with the miracle of Christmas, we will see our loved ones again. God put in motion a plan to defeat death in the miracle of Christmas! Because of Jesus Christ being born. And it worked!
Because of Christ, because of Christmas, even because of death, our loved ones that have gone on and received Jesus are in a far better place. A place as the Scripture says, where there are no more tears, there is no more sorrow, there is no more pain, there are no more meds to take, there are no more breathing issues, or cramped legs, or legs who cannot move or legs that give out. There are no skin diseases, lesions or conditions or the like. There are no cancers of any kinds, brains are operating and people are in their right minds. There is no more worries… no more drama. NO MORE DEATH. Death has been defeated!
First Corinthians 15:51 says, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ This is what just happened to my brother (and Joseph, and your loved ones, too). When he fell asleep, when death came upon him on this earth, his body that was perishable, mortal (able to be destroyed), was then clothed by GOD, with that which cannot be destroyed, with that which will last for eternal. And death, his death, has been swallowed up in victory! It has been wiped away. He has come through triumphant!
And from that point of view, I can say just as Paul did, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? And thanks be to God Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” A reason to celebrate the miracle of Christmas, even NOW and always.
Blessed Christmas and peaceful season,