He Defeated Death
by Sarah Phillips
Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21: 12 - 14)
Recently, my husband and I attended a forum to discuss the increasingly controversial issues surrounding end of life decisions. The event was intended to approach the topic from a Christian worldview, drawing on the Christian teachings of the dignity of human life.
Most of us came expecting experts to delve into the ways we can ethically preserve a person's life in a culture all too quick to promote what Pope John Paul II coined "the culture of death." This aspect of end-of-life issues is a very important one, and it was discussed at length. But before we got to those topics, a local trauma surgeon gave the first talk. And her words sunk in deeply with the entire room.
She highlighted the reality that death is part of human life, and when it's a person's time, it's okay to die. She offered ways families can come to recognize - and find peace - when that time comes.
I can't lie - these words were hard to hear even though we all, deep down, know we are mere mortals. Nobody wants to die. Nobody wants to think about death. It is strangely easier to discuss heavy issues such as battling diseases or unethical procedures than to discuss the need to accept natural death.
Undoubtedly, part of our hesitancy to discuss the topic is fueled by our own sense of self-preservation and fear of loss. But I also think the topic is difficult because as Christians we celebrate life - and rightly so. We are people of hope, people who cherish the gift of life and the blessings that come with it. For centuries, Christians have been among the first to defend life and promote the dignity of even the tiniest, most fragile person.
But the trauma surgeon's talk about preparing for natural death does not run contrary to being people of hope. She spoke these words in light of our true hope: Jesus Christ. She highlighted that while we should not prematurely end our earthly lives - because, yes this life is a gift - there is eternal life with Jesus Christ awaiting those who believe. Our time here is a time of preparation for the fullness of life in Christ. She said (to paraphrase), "Natural death of a loved one or even our own is the time we are called to put into practice that faith we've developed year after year as church attendees, deepening our relationship with the Lord."
During Easter week, we celebrate the resurrection of the risen Christ. Jesus Christ faced all the loneliness, pain, and fear that comes with death and conquered it. And as we read the Easter scriptures, we see that he did not disappear or abandon his disciples after the resurrection, but walked among them in his glorified state to offer further hope and instruction. So now, as we celebrate this profound moment in salvation history, we must ask ourselves: Do we truly believe He has conquered death and will never abandon us? As Christians, we can say yes with confidence.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Do you know someone who is ill or even grieving a loss? Find a way to be Christ's comforting presence for that person this week even if it's through a small gesture like a card.
Acts 4: 1 - 12
John 21: 1 - 14