Bryan Johnson calls himself the “World’s most measured human”. The wealthy tech entrepreneur ingests over 100 pills, eats boiled broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms and consumes all his meals before 11am before turning out the lights at 8:30pm. His regime continually tracks multiple biomarkers in order to optimise his health. His goal? “don’t die”. It hardly seems he is living.

Death is the great human certainty. We may deny it, attempt to postpone it with medical intervention but in the end, beating the reaper is impossible. Human mortality is 100%.

The Bible presents Death not simply as a fact but as a force which stalks the earth diminishing and destroying what God has made. Death wins wars, divides lovers and destroys families. Death is the devil’s disease, the agent of evil. And this final enemy of ours, possessed of superior power, will one day claim each of us.

There is a pride in Death. It parades its apparent victory; it beats its chest and claims to have the last word over our lives.

That’s why Jesus’s voluntary self-giving sacrifice is so strange. On the cross, he willingly lays his life down. He freely walks into the domain of death, allowing its talons to grasp and gore him. We sanitise the cross, turning Rome’s monstrous final solution into an item of art or jewellery. We turn our gaze away from the unspeakable evil of crucifixion. Just think of what the death of Jesus on the cross enacts:

  • State torture – he was falsely accused
  • Physical injury – he was mortally wounded.
  • Sexual shame – he faced naked public exposure.
  • Psychological abuse – he was emotionally degraded.
  • Public defamation – he was socially excluded.
  • Spiritual attack- he was demonically assaulted.
  • Moral condemnation – he was judged as guilty.
  • Theological censure – he was accursed.

All this and more he took for us. Whether we are victims or perpetrators of these evils, we can be assured that he bore our guilt, our shame and our pain upon himself.

Yet the weakness and vulnerability of God on the cross is stronger than death itself. Jesus inverts all this evil to our good. Our wonderful message is that not only are the effects of sin and death relieved but Death itself has been defeated, and its days are numbered. Jesus is resurrected from the grave. Easter is the day death died!

Not only is death itself dead but we are promised a new and resurrected life with all the blessings of physical and relational life we enjoy now amped up to the max in the new heavens and new earth.

On Sunday we will read part of 1 Corinthians 15, but I encourage you to read it all, ending as it does with a great assertion of the defeat of death itself.

The 16th-century poet and pastor George Herbert riffs on 1 Corinthians 15:51-56, sticking his tongue firmly in his cheek he has a go at death’s empty pomp and power.

Alas, poor Death! Where is thy glory?
Where is thy famous force, thy ancient sting?
Alas, poor mortal, void of story!
Go spell and read how I have killed thy King.

Poor Death! And who was hurt thereby?
Thy curse being laid on Him makes thee accurst.
Let losers talk, yet thou shalt die.
These arms shall crush thee.

Spare not, do thy worst.
I shall be one day better than before;
Thou so much worse,
that thou shalt be no more.