What do Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalael, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth have in common? At least in Genesis 5 the refrain though this family line is “and then he died”. For as long as they all may have lived none of them except for Enoch escaped death. But even for Enoch, this was not through his ability but through the intervention of God whom “took him away”.
Death is the common enemy to us all and however we may try to escape and avoid death - it is impossible for us to do so. No matter how healthy you are, no matter how much you avoid or dress up the topic, no matter how ‘young at heart’ you think you are - the harsh reality still stands, one day we will die.
Death is and should always be a sad and painful experience. It is appropriate to be sad when people die. You are meant to be sad. Death hurts because death separates and on the greatest scale. There is a great divide between the living and the dead which no one can cross. And so when we hear of people passing away and are separated from them it hurts and all the more when it happens to those we are close to.
But death is not a normal nor a natural part of life. Our innate desire to fight death is right because it is the great enemy. But the problem extends deeper than the physical but to the spiritual. Death is the result of sin. It is the due punishment for sin. Therefore, the fight against death is ultimately a fight against sin. Not that having a balanced diet, regular exercise, and general well being is a bad thing, but it will not ultimately stay the hand of death.
In Enoch we see that it is possible to escape death and in Jesus we find that the way is made possible to us. For God did not take Jesus away, but rather God sent Jesus to take our sins away. Jesus walked faithfully with God and yet he suffered “and then he died”. But his death was not for his own sins but for the sins of the world. So that just as God raised Jesus from the dead because of his righteousness, so God will raise us from the dead because we are counted righteous in Christ.
So my friend, if you are reading this, know that God loves you and that in Christ you are counted faithful and righteous. You need not die for your sins. Jesus has already done so for you. Find life, find forgiveness, find hope in Jesus. You are dearly loved. You are precious to God.
As I long to tell you how much God loves you I also want you to know that I love you too. I am sorry that my actions have not always matched my words. I know that at many times my example is far from what is expected of a Christian and much less as your pastor. When I have broken promises, spoken too quickly or too harshly, when I have not listened or have been too passive and dismissive, been late, untidy, slow or just absent. When I have taken you for granted or underappreciated you or thought more highly of myself than I ought to. I am sorry. Thank you for being so patient, supportive and loving of me and for doing this to one another. I don’t want to regret not telling each of you how blessed I am to be counted with you in God’s family tree.