Digging deeper into grace: 07/19/2017

Death: That fearsome menace at the end of our lives!
There are four things we know about death:
– It is certain. Benjamin Franklin observed, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.”
– It is permanent. Sadly, those we love who have died have not come back to enrich our lives with a “second time around.”
– It is out of our control. Lars Ulrich, the drummer for the band Metallica, admitted, “The last thing that I’ve been unable to control in my quest to control everything around me is death.”
– It is unwanted. Woody Allen expressed it well: “I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
We know these things about death. What we wonder is, What is on the other side of death,
So…what if someone would come into our world to take on human death and overcome it, Wouldn’t that be the greatest good news the world could ever hear,
The writers of the New Testament claim that’s what happened in the person of Jesus Christ. He took on human death, and He conquered it as the greatest breakthrough in all of human history!
Many years ago, Dr. Robert Hughes of the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia illustrated the significance of Jesus’ resurrection with a story about his father, who had been a coal-miner in northeastern Pennsylvania. Dr. Hughes’ father had the job of going down into the mines every morning before the other miners, to check the mines for methane gas. Every morning he would descend alone into the mines, taking with him the safety light, and he would begin to go through the darkened tunnels, checking out each of the tunnels and shafts to make sure no deadly methane gas was present. If the light of the safety lamp would begin to flicker, he would have to run for his life, because it would signal the presence of the deadly gas. Then, after checking the mine, he would rise to the surface, and there on the surface, where all the miners gathered around waiting expectantly, he would announce, “It’s okay; it’s safe. You can go down into the mine now.”
Then Dr. Hughes would explain, “That’s what Christ has done for us, coming up out of the depths of death, He has announced to all who are gathered here in this life on earth, ‘It’s okay; it’s safe now. You can enter into death, into the darkness and the unknown. It is safe because I have made it safe. I have been there and checked it out. It has not been victorious over me, but I have overcome it, and I will be with you in death, even as I have been with you in life!’”
The empty tomb is evidence that nothing that comes our way is too much for God to handle. An anonymous writer put it this way: “Write it over all your difficulties; pen it over all your disappointments; inscribe it on all your fears, post it over all your troubles: GOD IS ABLE.”
And the empty tomb is evidence that we have something tremendous to look forward to on the other side of death. Helen Keller lived her life on this earth blind and deaf, disconnected from the world of sight and sound. But she came to find great hope in the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. She wrote, “For three things I thank God every day of my life: thanks that He has vouchsafed (entrusted to) me knowledge of His works; deep thanks that He has set in my darkness the lamp of faith; deep, deepest thanks that I have another life to look forward—a life joyous with light and flowers and heavenly song.”
—Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa.

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Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at: tomtripp@frontiernet.net