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“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14,15).

WHEN JESUS ARRIVED AT BETHANY AFTER HIS FRIEND LAZARUS HAD DIED, HE FOUND MARY AND MARTHA GRIEVING THE LOSS OF THEIR BROTHER. To Martha, Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23), and she replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (v.24). Then Jesus said these words to her: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (vv.25,26).

It is a fundamental fact of the gospel that by dying Jesus enabled those who accept His salvation to have a whole new perspective on death. To be able to die, He had to take upon Himself human flesh (John 1:14), but as the Hebrew writer points out in 2:14,15, by sharing in our “flesh and blood” and then dying for us, He took away from Satan the power of death and delivered “all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

We shall all have to die physically, of course, unless we happen to be alive when Christ returns. That is because when Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, they and their progeny were barred from the Tree of Life — the physical immortality that would have come from eating of that tree was forfeited (Genesis 3:22–24).

But in Christ, the fear of death has been broken. The assurance of our own resurrection makes all the difference. In short, it is hope — the anticipation of what is beyond death — that “gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

But actually, what Jesus did was better than just giving us a new perspective on death: on the other side of death, He opened the door to a life much better than what we call “life” right now. I expect heaven will be even better than what Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden. Although it seems ironic that Christ gave us this life by dying, that is the good news. He died that we “might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7).

“Jesus audaciously abolished death, transforming it from a door that slammed to, into one that opened to whoever knocked” (Malcolm Muggeridge).

Gary Henry — +

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