On Sunday, I returned to a preaching series in the book of Matthew, and found myself dealing with the death of John the Baptist. It is one of the most unique and tragic deaths that take place in the Scriptures. He dies because of a messed up man (Herod Antipas), his crazy wife (Herodias), and a young girls sexual dance (Salome).
If you are interested in much of the history of this situation, you can download my notes or listen to the message by going HERE. It's not my point to detail the history of his death in this blog, but I did want to share one thing it reminded me about death.
DEATH IS CERTAIN
As the old adage goes, "the only certainties in life are death and taxes." I don't know about taxes, but death is for sure. Everyone is going to die. The righteous dies. The unrighteous die. We are all going to die. Just watch the news and death is everywhere. I received the information this morning that a friend lost her sister last night to death.
John died. But so did Herod Antipas and his wife, Herodias. They eventually came to the same fate as they brought upon John the Baptist. And so will you and I. But this is not how God designed it to be. Originally, in the Garden of Eden, after God created everything, He said it was very good. Things would have remained perfect if Adam and Eve had not succumbed to the temptations of the Evil One and eaten of the one tree God told them not to eat. The result of that sin was death. Things and people began to die.
Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden. It wouldn't be long before they saw death personally in their life when one of their sons kills another (Cain & Abel). I wonder what it would have been like for Adam and Eve to cope with the tragedy of that loss, knowing it was because of their sin that death entered this world? Death became part of everything in this world. Animals died. The earth moaned in death. And their family, one by one, succumbed to this horrific thing we call death.
But it wasn't as if God didn't have a plan. He did. His plan was simple. He would send His Son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to . . . die! Yes, the answer to the certainty of death is for someone to die. Painted in the backdrop of the story of John the Baptist is Jesus. He may not be the main character, but He is always the main plot. At the end of this account, He withdraws from Herod Antipas, not because He is afraid to die, but because it isn't His time yet. He will run into Antipas later and it will lead to His crucifixion.
He will die a similar death to John the Baptist, but it will be so different. His is a death of sacrifice. His is a death of substitution. In fact, He is the only one who ever didn't deserve to die, for He is the only one to ever live a perfect life. He perfectly fulfilled the demands of God's Law and yet was still put to death for my sins, for your sins.
Death is certain. But just because death is certain doesn't mean it isn't tragic at times. And it certainly doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. But when we face death, let us remember the One death that made it possible for us to deal with death.