Tag Archives: death

Deuteronomy Hints at the Horror of Jesus’s Sacrifice

We Discover Parallels Between Deuteronomy and Jesus’s DeathDeuteronomy Hints at the Horror of Jesus’s Sacrifice

The book of Deuteronomy, which most people skip and the rest of us skim, does contain interesting passages for us to consider. In one short section, God addresses capital punishment. Though the idea of executing people for their offenses may offend our sensibilities, don’t dismiss this passage.

Learn from its words. It gives insight into Jesus’s gift of the ultimate sacrifice.

This passage in Deuteronomy talks about executing criminals on a pole. It commands people not to leave the body hang overnight but to bury it the same day. Further it goes on to state that anyone hung on a pole is under God’s curse.

Let’s relate this to Jesus:

Jesus Died on a Pole

We don’t know the exact configuration of the cross Jesus died on, but we can understand that in simple terms, it was a pole. Jesus died on a pole, and his body hung exposed on a pole, exactly aligned with this passage in Deuteronomy. There he suffered and served as our sacrifice.

Jesus Was Buried the Same Day

When Joseph of Arimathea requested Jesus’s body for burial, he likely had this Deuteronomy passage in mind: that God instructed his people not to leave an executed body hang on a pole overnight. Joseph, a righteous man, made sure that Jesus’s body didn’t suffer this final indignity. Jesus died under God’s curse to free us from the curse. Click To Tweet

Jesus Was Under God’s Curse

It’s hard for us to think of Jesus being under God’s curse, yet as he died on the cross, suffering the consequences for what we’ve done wrong, he was under God’s curse. He suffered God’s punishment for our wrongdoing. Paul confirms this in his letter to the Galatian church. He tells them, and reminds us, that when Jesus became our curse, he freed us from the curse that we deserve (Galatians 3:13).

Jesus died under God’s curse to free us from the curse.

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 21-22, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 21:22-23.]

How Much Do We Love Others?

The depth of love is revealed by how much we are willing to give up

How Much Do We Love Others?It is easy to say we love others. It is harder to show it, to prove our words through action. Despite what I may profess, I fear I may be more selfish than I care to admit. I may not love those closest to me as fully as I think I do. And to be honest, I may not love those who are not so close that much at all.

However Jesus shows his love for us by dying in our place. We mess up; we deserve punishment. In fact our mistakes are so many, that our sentence is death. Out of his deep love for us Jesus volunteers to take our place and receive our punishment. He dies so we don’t have to. This is the ultimate expression of true love.

Yes, there are some I would die for. But not everyone. My love has limits. God’s love does not. Jesus proves that.

Yet as incredible as it seems, Paul offers to take love one step farther. His love for his people is so deep, his compassion so strong, that he is willing to be forever separated from Jesus if it will save them, the Jewish people. Not some of them, but all of them, even those who are trying to kill him and want him dead.Paul loves the Jews so much he is willing to be forever separated from Jesus if it will save them. Click To Tweet

Paul claims he is willing to spend eternity in hell, forever separated from Jesus, so that his people can spend eternity in heaven, forever in community with Jesus. He offers to give up so much. Frankly I wonder if he really means it or maybe it’s just hyperbole, an exaggeration to make his point.

Of course he can’t actually carry out such a grand offer, an extravagant show of love. Yet this certainly gives me something to consider, professing love deeply like Paul and showing it profoundly like Jesus.

Are we willing to die for others? Would we go to hell so others can go to heaven? 

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Romans 8-10, and today’s post is on Romans 9:3.]

What is the Second Death?

The curious phrase the “second death” only occurs in John’s prophetic vision as recorded in the book of Revelation, with just four verses that mention it. But what is the second death?

  • What is the Second Death?Regarding the church in Smyrna, John writes that those who persevere in persecution, who are victorious, will avoid harm by the second death.
  • Later, John notes that martyrs will be resurrected and reign with Jesus for a thousand years. They, too, will escape the power of the second death.
  • A few verses later, John says that the lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name isn’t recorded in the “book of life” will be tossed into the lake of fire, that is, they will encounter the second death.
  • Last, John lists some people who will experience the second death: cowards, unbelievers, vile people, murderers, sexually immoral persons, practitioners of magic arts, idol worshipers, and all liars. That’s a sweeping list and a cause for trepidation, if not for the prior section that says those listed in the book of life will escape the second death. Perhaps this implies that when we follow Jesus and have our names recorded, that the power of these other traits is diminished.

None of these, however, explains what the second death is. What we can learn is that it’s something that can occur after physical death (the first death), and it may be a synonym of hell or a reference to eternal suffering or punishment. What’s important to realize is that martyrs and those who withstand persecution will sidestep the second death, as well as all those who follow Jesus. And if we know how to avoid the second death, understanding what it means isn’t important.

Does this discussion about the second death give you comfort or cause concern? What are your views about the second death?

[Revelation 2:8-11, Revelation 20:4-6, Revelation 20:14-15, Revelation 21:8]

What Does it Mean to Have “Fallen Asleep?”

What Does it Mean to Have “Fallen Asleep?”The Bible sometimes uses the quaint phrase “fallen asleep.” It’s a polite way to say that someone died. I smile at this ambiguous language and wonder why Bible writers used a euphemism instead of being direct.

But I think there might be more to it. To say “fallen asleep” is not merely an understated way to communicate that someone’s life is over. It’s a hint that there is another life awaiting us after death, that we will awake to a new kind of existence.

Just as natural sleep is a respite between one day and the next, so too figurative sleep is a transition from one form of life to another. While our body ceases to function, our spirit moves on to a new dimension. And we must first “fall asleep” to make that transition.

When the Bible talks about those who have “fallen asleep,” it’s more than a gracious way to say someone died, it’s the suggestion there is even more to look forward to as we move into the spiritual realm. But first we must sleep; we must die.

How do you view death? Do you have hope in what comes next?

[Matthew 9:24, Mark 5:39, Luke 8:32, John 11:11, Acts 7:60, Acts 13:36, 1 Corinthians 11:30, 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 20, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15]

Did Jesus Have Second Thoughts?

Before Jesus is captured and executed, he spends some time praying. At one point in his prayer, Jesus asks God for a reprieve – that he won’t have to die – even though that was the plan all along. But he’s quick to add an addendum, confirming he’ll do whatever his papa wants.

I wonder if Jesus is thinking about the test God gave Abraham, commanding the patriarch to kill his son Isaac. Just as Abraham is preparing to plunge the knife into his son in total obedience, God says, “Wait.” Then he provides a different sacrifice, a substitute. Isaac is spared.

I wonder if Jesus pauses, hoping that God will again say, “Wait” and provide a substitute sacrifice or a different solution. But this time God the Father doesn’t, and Jesus willingly dies as a once-and-for-all way to reunite us with Father God.

When it comes to Jesus dying instead of us and taking our punishment on himself, he doesn’t have second thoughts, but he is open to alternatives.

When John writes about Jesus, he records a different prayer. In this prayer, Jesus admits his anguish about dying, but he knows he can’t ask God to intervene. He acknowledges that dying is why he came to earth.

He will do it – and he does. Jesus dies to make us right with the Father. Though our wrongs separate us from him, Jesus takes our punishment upon himself, thereby making us right with the Father.

[Matthew 26:39-42, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42, Genesis 22:1-19, John 12:23-29]

What’s the True Meaning of Easter?

Happy Easter!

Easter is a celebration, not of chocolate eggs and fluffy bunnies, but of the greatest event in history. Christians everywhere know what this is, and we use big words and confusing terms to explain it. Most people outside our circles don’t have a clue what we’re saying. Sometimes we don’t either.

On Good Friday, Jesus dies. On Easter, he is alive. But why? What does it mean?

Stripping away all the Christian jargon and inaccessible theology, here is how I see it:

We’ve all do things we shouldn’t; we’ve all make mistakes.

We deserve to be punished.

Our punishment isn’t a slap on the wrist or a timeout. Regardless of what we have done or will do, there’s only one thing on the books: death. It’s mandatory sentencing.

At our trial, Jesus stands up for us. “Oh, no, you don’t!” Murmurs go through the courtroom. “I won’t let you hurt them. Take me instead.” It is a shocking move. “Kill me; just let them go.” Wow, that’s real love.

And that’s just what happens. Jesus is executed instead of us. We get off scot-free.

This is his gift to us, the ultimate act of love, dying in place of another. As with any gift, all we need to do is reach out and take it.

But the story isn’t over. Death is not the end for Jesus. Jesus’ body doesn’t rot away in his tomb. To show the world how great he is, he comes back to life in an awesome display of power.

Now we can be together; now we can hang out.

How cool is that? Thank you Jesus!

That’s why I follow Jesus.

That’s what Easter means to me.

What is Eternal Life?

The phrase “eternal life” occurs 42 times in the Bible. What exactly then is eternal life?

Some suggest eternal life is synonymous with heaven. If we believe in Jesus, we will go to heaven when we die. That is eternal life.

That’s a good start to our understanding of eternal life, but that’s not all there is to it; there’s more.

As I read the Bible, I see eternal life beginning now, here in this world. We learn this from John, whose references to eternal life are often present tense.

When we follow Jesus, eternal life begins immediately, right now, today. Eternal life begins here on earth through Jesus and continues into heaven when our physical bodies die.

If you follow Jesus, are you enjoying eternal life today?

[verses about eternal life in the NIV Bible, John 5:24, John 3:14-21, John 5:39-40, John 3:34-36]

…and Then You Die

A few years ago there was a popular, yet pessimistic saying: “Life’s a bitch; then you die.”...and Then You Die

Although that may be shocking or even offensive to some, I think King Solomon was the originator of this depressing thought. It permeates his writing in Ecclesiastes and it exudes from the text. In fact, an apt and concise summary of Ecclesiastes may well be: “Life’s a bitch; then you die.”

After ranting and whining for 12 chapters about the struggle of life and finality of death, it is easy to miss Solomon’s succinct conclusion nestled in the book’s concluding verses. At this point in the reading, one is often so overwhelmed with negativity that there’s a tendency to skim to the end, or perhaps to even skip to the end.

Nevertheless, his one gem of useful truth is simply this: fear and obey God.

Perhaps Solomon was on to something after all.

[Ecclesiastes 12:13]

What’s Next After We Die?

When we die, what’s next?What's Next After We Die?

Paul, who diligently and ardently followed Jesus, was quite sure of the answer. He wrote, “The time of my spirit’s release from the body is at hand and I will soon go free.” [2 Timothy 2:4, The Amplified version]

We need to realize that we are more than a body—and that life is more than existing in the physical realm. It has been astutely said, “We are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body.”  [See 1 Thessalonians 5:23]

So, once our body dies, our spirit and soul continues on; for Paul that meant freedom.