This is a dark and difficult time on the planet, because disease and death are spreading all over the world. We have all wondered if it would touch us. The questions are correct. The thoughts are important. But the decisions we make will have a long-lasting effect.
In late February of 2020, in the town of Bergamo, Italy, the local newspaper, called L’Eco di Bergamo, had only a page and a half of obituaries. There were 2 and 1/2 or three weeks in the middle of March when they had 10 pages of obituaries of people who had died because of the coronavirus.
A man who found his name in the obituary column called the editor and yelled at him and said, “What are you doing? I’m still alive!” And the editor apologized. And the man raised his voice and screamed at him some more. And the editor said, “Sir, we’ll put your name on the births column tomorrow.”
One day you and I will be found in obituary columns. Somebody will be paying their last respects. Because death is an incomprehensible mystery, it is an inevitable reality that all of us are going to face.
I wish somehow we could vanquish death and conquer death, that somehow, somebody will bring life into the view of the human race. There’s a Middle Eastern parable, of death meeting a merchant in the market square of the city of Baghdad.
Startled, he tells the businessman, “I’ve come to meet you today.” The businessman, using his problem solving skills, immediately with his connections, goes to the grand vizier, the executive head of the Ottoman Empire and asks to borrow his horse, saying, “I’m going to flee from here. Death has said he’ll meet me.”
That evening, the grand vizier was walking in the market square of Baghdad and says, “you really startled my servant, saying that you we’re going to meet him. And he borrowed my horse and went to distant Samarra.”
And Death said, “you are startling me. You’re surprising me, because my appointment with that merchant tonight is in distant Samarra.” Death is inevitable. We are all going to face it. So I speak as a dying man to a dying audience. None of us is going to make it through life without death.
There’s a North African thinker who says, when a baby is born, people celebrate. They ask questions like, will he be tall or short, will he be handsome or ugly, will he be rich or poor. But they never ask, will he die.
Because it’s a reality. It’s inevitable. We’re all facing killer death. Could there be a Death Killer? We die in one of three ways. Killer death is inevitable. We die of age.
Today is my mother’s birthday. She’d have been 96 years of age had she lived. She lived a full life. Age will eventually get the best of us. Short of dying, you can live through anything.
Or we will die out of disease. Cancer, that ugly word. Or a respiratory syndrome, like the world faces right now in this coronavirus specter of death. Other kinds of viruses and plagues and pestilences. Disease.
Or we may die out of violence. Personal violence or person against person, man against woman, or a woman against man, parents against children, terrorists against the innocent, or genocide. I was recently in eastern Africa, where over a million people were killed. Violence.
We are all going to die in one of those ways. The reality faces us square into our eyes. And so killer death is inevitable. We try to find ways to manage death. Here are some ways in which we manage death.
One, some people manage death by denying that it will happen. That is the weakest of all positions. Like saying you don’t exist, you can say as long as you want, as loud as you want that you’re not going to die, but you will.
Others try to put a softer spin in the denial in therapeutic ways. Attempt to rename death as “passing,” or graveyards as “memorial parks.” In western Africa, a friend of mine, his father was buried six months after he died in the gold chassis of a Mercedes Benz.
This is in honor of somebody who died. That’s some way of delaying, denying, dealing, and doing your own death. Yeah, that’s the second. We’re trying to delay death. Trying to postpone death through all the medications that we could take, the health and fitness programs, the best end of life care to delay, watch one more day when people are ready to die.
Delaying death is like the insurance salesman who tells an older couple, “you should really consider this policy, but if you’re not ready to commit tonight, sleep over it and call me in the morning if you get up.” Can’t delay death. The day I die is the right time.
The third is to do your own death. To hasten it; to solicit it. A life is not worth living if you have a spiritual ache in your heart; if you have the intellectual pain of meaninglessness, or your soul is weeping today. You pursue things like addictions and things detrimental to your health.
Trying to do your own death. Some of you have even strategized how to die. You have asked about euthanizing the short life you have. And fortunately, you’re still alive. And I’ve got a chance to share good news.
Oh, in addition to doing, and delaying, and denying death, there’s one more. That is dealing with death. Some take a very good, hard, business view that death is going to come, let me do the best thing I can do right now and live it up.
Sort of a humanistic kind of “tomorrow we die, and let’s eat, drink, and be merry.” Do the best that we can with what we have. It’s a good philosophy of life. But something wiser in dealing with death would be maybe making a contribution to somebody, maybe teaching some younger people how to live.
Sharing some principles, writing a book, working according to your gifts and talents, or even contributing your vital organs so somebody else can live. Those are ways of managing death.
The Hindu sages said it this way. We all know that we will die. We just don’t know when and how and where. Insight. But the Buddhist scholars say, yeah, we’re going to die. So concentrate on death so we can focus on life.
That’s why we have hilarious t-shirts which say, God has organized this number of things for me to do, and I’m so behind and late that I won’t ever die.
But more seriously, the Pulitzer Prize winner facing pancreatic cancer who said, as he called his press agency, he said, “I knew that all of us would have to die. But I thought somehow it will make an exception in my case.”
Killer death it’s inevitable. There are no exceptions. Is there a way that life can be brought into the view of the human race? That’s what I want to speak about; to go deep into your heart, to delve and pierce your soul.
To think and trust something that is unbelievable, because there was a Death Killer. The Death Killer. He’s incredible. Let’s look at the qualities and identify the Death Killer. Everybody can talk about death killing. But a Death Killer would evidence the following qualities.
One, the Death Killer could face death. Now, we all know intuitively that God cannot die. Why would you want a god who can die? However, if God cannot die, he really doesn’t have the moral credibility to put me through death.
I don’t want a trust a god who doesn’t experience what I experience and you will experience. And this is where I want to point you to Jesus. Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ. In one exchange, six times he says, I came down, I came down, I came down from heaven.
That means he was sourced in heaven, but he came down. He wasn’t derived from the earth. And since he is God, who could not die, he had to become man in order to die. He passed what we call the personal ability test.
His credibility with me has already gone up. The Death Killer would face death. Not only could, but would face death. To experience death is different from just talking about it. Everybody knows they’re going to experience death. All the gurus and all the teachers, all the philosophers, and all the founders of religions,
they would face death. But if they stay dead, there is no hope for us. They have their philosophies and theologies, but that’s not enough if they stay dead.
I used to buy owls for my late mentor. I used to buy mice for another friend. I have bought clocks from all over the world. But these owls were difficult to find. In the UK,
the owl dealer said to me, looking at these figurines, “what kind of owl do you want?”
And I said, “what do you mean what kind of owl do you want? Aren’t all owls the same?” He said, “no, sir. There are over 150 breeds of kinds of owls.” There are over 150 kinds of owls. These are their habits. These are their preferences.
And I said, “how do you know so much about owls? Were you ever an owl?” He said, “no, sir.” You see, my friend, he knew a lot about owls. He had an owl-ology. He had an owl-osophy. He had an owl-ism. But he had not experienced being an owl.
All the gurus, and the leaders, and the teachers, and the founders of religions, they have death-ologies, but once they experienced death, they do not come back to tell us what it feels like, what it is like.
Which brings us to the third quality of a Death Killer. Not only could face death and would face death, but should conquer death. Should conquer death. All these heads of religions, and philosophies, and ideologies, you and me, we will die and stay dead.
We cannot offer another person eternal life. Unless there is a person who has conquered death, who has gone through the personal experience test and the natural ability test to what I’m going to call the ultimate victory test.
And for that, I point you to Jesus, again, the Lord Jesus Christ. He said on the third day, after I die, I will rise again. I decide when to die. He died in his early 30s.
He could and would die. But he also said that you can check me out. You can verify if I have risen from the dead. It’s easy to falsify if I didn’t rise from the dead.
Eyewitnesses in the hundreds saw him alive. They saw him before he died. They saw him after he resurrected physically. He appeared to them. He ate with them. He interacted with them. And let them touch him if they wanted.
He rose from the dead. And so in the only recorded verifiable self resurrection in all of history and geography he says, I can be the Death Killer. I killed it. That’s what I want to present to you.
Killer death is inevitable, but the Death Killer is incredible. Listen to what he said. In the face of the death of his good friend, he said, I am the resurrection of people. I am the life of people.
He is not only saying he can give the resurrection. He is saying, I am the Death Killer. Just you wait and see. And he raised his friend from the dead. And that friend went on to die again, but Jesus did not die again. That’s the big difference in Jesus’ resurrection, which gives us hope.
And then he said this. Anyone who believes in me, though he dies, will live. Because it’s a biological condition, we will die. He also said, whoever lives and believes in me will never, never die. That is your eternal condition.
You see, the cause of death is sin, and the consequence of sin is death. He took care of both. I told you about the death story of life. Let me give you a life story of death.
God created us, human beings, never to die. To have beautiful, absolute, unbroken relationship with him. But we decided against it. We fell into transgression, and boundary breaking, and sin. Immediately, death kicked in because the cause of death is sin. And the consequence of sin is death.
And that’s why the Death Killer came down from heaven. He chose to die, take our sins on him. And on the third day when he rose again, proving that he could be our savior from sin, but also the Death Killer.
“Whoever believes in me, though he dies, will live.” We will die biologically. But because we believe in him, our perspectives of death, they are much different. We’re not afraid of it.
We won’t force it. We won’t run away from it. But when it happens, we know there is hope. When we cross the boundary, it is simply like going through a transit airport. Biologically, we will die. But eternally, he says, anyone who lives and believes in me will never, never die.
Eternal life will begin in you right now if you believe in the Death Killer as your only God and savior. Is your heart breaking over the situation of the world? Mine is.
If I didn’t bring you this news, you would wonder why I didn’t bring you this news earlier. It’s somewhat like the greatest Maritime tragedy. Many of you saw the movie of the Titanic. In April of 1912, this largest ocean going passenger vessel was leaving from London to New York and advertised that it’s unsinkable.
So the rich and the famous tickets. They believed the claim. Approaching Newfoundland, the boat hit an iceberg and the watertight compartments began to break.
At 11:40 PM, two and 1/2 hours or so later, the boat sank. Over 1,500 souls dead. When the boat began to sink, there was enough time for people to believe that the boat, unsinkable one, was going to sink.
But they denied it. They delayed it, and they didn’t deal with it. They said, we paid too much money for this trip. It cannot sink. And finally, when they began to believe the reality of the sinking boat, the lifeboats were released. They got into them.
In the middle of their wining and dining of luxury, they said, OK. But the first class passengers said, we don’t want to be cramped in the lifeboat. We paid too much money.
There were actually lifeboats which left without fully being occupied. Some could hold up to 60, only 15 were in it, though there was still a lot of space.
My friend, today, humanity has hit an iceberg, and we’re sinking. And there’s space on the lifeboat. The Lord Jesus is willing to save all of the human race who trust in him as their lifeboat.
If I didn’t tell you this, you’ll wonder why I didn’t. And one day you’ll ask me. But I want to give you hope. In the middle of facing death, killer death, which is inevitable, say to the Death Killer, the Lord Jesus, I want you to be my Death Killer.
I have transgressed against you. I deserve to die. I want eternal life. Will you be my heart savior, the Death Killer, to give me eternal life? I believe that you died instead of me and rose again. Come into my life. I entrust myself to you as my Death Killer.
Ladies and gentlemen, the way to confront and defeat killer death, the inevitable enemy, is to entrust and embrace the Death Killer, the Lord Jesus Christ, as your incredible savior.