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The neutering of death

1st April 2018

The Gospel demonstrates our Lord’s passion to rid the fear of death from the hearts of humankind.

"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the dominion of death-- that is, the devil--and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2: 14-15)

An amazing gift: death and all its slavery is neutered of all its potency.

I once mentored a pastor who worked part-time as a doctor. Perhaps medicine was the new priesthood?  I suggested few folk would seek him out as a pastor, as they would as a medico because folk are more afraid of dying than their sins. An irony, as sin is the potency, the sting of death. Our Lord Jesus bore sin into a place where it is justly and truly lost from the memory of God. Satan, the lord of death wields now a paper sword!

Yet death is still here, or is it just like a shell on the beach? Farmers understand this. Steers can forage with the cows. No danger of unwanted blood line infecting the herd. These pseudo bulls have no potency. All steer, no bull!

Jesus delights watching his sting-drawing of death eagerly taken up by his friends, relishing the freedom, heads high, laughing at the old enemies and looking forward to the glorious next stage of sharing in the Lord’s gift of life eternal. Grief healed with hope. With Christ we possess and command “life, death, the present and the future. All are ours.” (1 Corinthians 3: 22)

The apostles didn’t use the term ‘death’ for themselves, but spoke of their ‘departure’, ‘release’ or ‘way-out’.  So should we!

So real is this, that our Lord promises us that death is now out of sight. “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death." (John 8: 51) The words of our death neutering Master kept trustingly in the heart potently cleanse our hearts of fear. As one preacher put it, though life’s ending like its beginning might be a touch messy, when it comes we won’t feel the bump!

Yet the old lying enemy is currently boasting at retaking lost former ground. Violence, suicide and mind-death are epidemic. Folk are intimidated by death more than ever, teasing themselves it won’t happen to them as they watch more and more of it on television -imagining it is pushed into the land of numbness as we all live to over a hundred. Or as Woody Allen put it “I just don’t want to be there when it happens”.

Death, neutered for now; one day to be destroyed forever. There is only one place where it no longer lives and breeds its frights. That place is in the company of him who has the power of an indestructible life. The forerunner gone ahead of us, behind the curtain into the unseen to bring us with him, safely home. Jesus, the Lord of the living, the way, the truth and the life. Live in Easter joy!

Easter meditation: Scriptures

Hebrews 2.5-18, Hebrews 6.19, 1 Corinthians 3.22, John 8.51, Psalm 116.15


Rev Ian Clarkson is a minister in the SA Synod and Field Minister for HopeNet



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