Fellas, let’s talk about death. Everyone reading this blog post will die someday. This is a source of great sadness for us, no doubt; it has been a source of great sadness for all men since Adam. Your whole family, your friends, your coworkers; all of them will face death, whether it comes in the next hour or in a hundred years. The ancients knew this sorrow well; one need only read of Achilles’ anguish at how brief his life shall be in the Iliad, or Gilgamesh’s desperate sorrow at the loss of his only friend Enkidu, to see that this shadow has haunted our race since we were driven from the garden. Only with great wealth do men truly convince themselves that their generation shall be the one that escapes death; the aristocratic alchemists’ search for the Elixir of Life and the modern tech industry’s obsession with uploading brains to computers are two branches of the same luxurious stem. Death comes for all; the mightiest conqueror, the wisest sage, the most clever mechanist. We live in this life, and we may find success for failure or a little of both, but ultimately we arrive at our own tomb. So it was for Hammurabi, so it is for you.
Death is coming for all of us…but death is not the end. What Hammurabi did not know but what you do know is that after the great flood which consumes the whole world, there shall be new life, a beautiful new home for those who know the Way to reach it. This home shall not be like the one we know now, for where here joy is fleeting, here it shall reign eternally. There shall be no death, there shall be no sorrow, there shall be no loneliness or disappointment. How do you know this? Because Jesus Christ is risen, and He has prepared the Way for you- indeed He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.
In the Crucifixion, God shows us what the life of a Christian must be in this world, in this life. We must not presume that we shall escape suffering; indeed there must be times when it will be necessary that we embrace it whole-heartedly, so that a greater good might come about. We must not be afraid to die, figuratively or literally, for God or for our neighbor. We must be willing to accept what looks to the world like defeat and shame. Let us not pretend that this cannot feel very hard at times; but if the God who created us and to whom we owe everything commands it of us, who are we to deny Him? We ought to accept our own cross with gratitude, happy to show in some small way our thanks for what He does for us.
We could end the story here, we could say “ah, God wants us to suffer and die, and that is good and fine, because He is God!” And it would be true…but it would not be the whole truth. For after the Crucifixion comes the Resurrection. Not only did God show us how to live in this life, He showed us the life he prepares us in the world to come. If you think the cross is hard my brothers, I encourage you to look upon the empty tomb! A man who was tortured to death stands up, and rolls away the stone which sealed His body in the earth, and strides about the world, unconquered. His wounds remain, and yet where before they were marks of pain, now to look upon them is to know that He has triumphed over death! What more can the enemies of God do to Him? They can do nothing; He is unstoppable. He meets with His friends, He gives them comfort and encouragement, He forgives them, He eats with them, He continues to astound them with new wisdom which rushes forth from His infinite self upon them. He is not a ghost, He is not a happy wisp of thought sitting on a cloud; He is the King of Glory walking upon the ground, which could not hold Him.
He has gone forth ahead of us! He has prepared the way. If we trust Him and follow Him through the waters, though it seems we proceed to certain doom, He shall lead us through them. We need only cling to the wood of the Cross, as Noah clung to the wood of the ark, and it shall carry us through the flood. Brothers, I pray that the Lord will grant each of you the strength to so cling; I pray that He will ignite your heart with the fire of His own love for you, so that you might shine like a beacon through the dusk of this life and the dark night of death. Please pray for me and for yourselves, that we shall truly desire Heaven and so find it. And do not be bogged down with the fear of death. It is still Easter; our King has triumphed over man’s oldest foe, and nothing can stop His victory. Remember this.