The Shadow of Death

“Jesus said unto her, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die’” (John 11:25-26).

The news came unexpectedly, the prognosis was bleak, Jim had only a couple of months to live. We had previously mourned together at the death of my grandfather and then at the death of Jim’s father. He had lots of questions about Scripture, and we had engaged in many long conversations about the Bible over the intervening years. Now it was Jim who was facing that enemy that awaits all of us – death (Hebrews 9:27).

The following Sunday, I made a trip back home to visit with Jim. I arrived at the ER just a few minutes after the ambulance and found myself sitting beside his bed in the ER. Soon enough, the questions began. After a few minutes, I found an opening in the conversation and turned to the heart of the matter. What do you really believe about Jesus? That is the heart of the matter. 

Jesus says here that those who believe in Him will never die. Though we may face physical death, that death will be swallowed up in life that will never end. 

“For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “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” (1 Corinthians 15:53-58).

In His resurrection, Jesus defeated death for all who would follow Him. That’s Good News, news that a world desperately needs to hear. 

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (Psalm 23:4).

I find it interesting that the psalmist wrote not of death, or the valley of death, but the valley of the shadow of death. Shadows can be scary, but they are temporary and have no substance of their own. One of the definitions of shadow is an attenuated (lessened or weakened) form. For the follower of Jesus, death is just a shadow of its former self -- it has been defeated in the Resurrection.

By Jesse Smith
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