Death is the greatest enemy of mankind. The Bible calls death as the last enemy. Everyone has an appointment with death, and it is one appointment no one will miss. Death comes to all without exception. It is the guest that shows up without invitation. It breaks family ties, marriage vows, personal relationships and fellowship. It brings grief and causes us to mourn the loss of those we love and cherish. Death brings fear to man. This article will seek to show how death came into the world, how it has been defeated in Christ and show that for believers there is no need to fear death.

The fear of death lies deep in the hearts of people. Dr Samuel Johnson, expressed what many feel when he was witnessed his friend’s final illness; “At the sight of this last conflict, I felt a sensation never known to me before; a confusion of passions, an awful stillness of sorrow, a gloomy terror without a name.” Dietrich Kolde says, “There are three things I know to be true that frequently make my heart heavy. The first troubles my spirit because I will have to die. The second troubles my heart more because I do not know when. The third troubles me above all because I do not know where I will go.”

The promise of Jesus Christ is a great comfort to all those who believe in him. “Truly, Truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51). The resurrection of Jesus Christ has broken the power of death for believers. Death no longer is master over them.

How did death come into the world?

The Bible, in Genesis, gives us a perfect picture of the world God created before sin entered. God put Adam and Eve in the garden to be its custodians. He told Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “For in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” God said. When Adam sinned against God, he became a sinner and through him sin entered the world.

When Adam reproduced with Eve, he passed along his sinful condition to all his children. As a result, every person that has ever been born into this world has been born with sin (Romans 5:12). This means that men such as Abraham, Moses, Isaac, and David were all sinners. The sin of Adam has brought death into this world. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). This is God’s indictment of the sinner. He looks at him and says that no one has the ability to produce righteousness. Instead of righteousness, man has produced death. This is how death came into the world; through the disobedience of our federal head, Adam.

 How did Christ defeat death?

Having seen how death entered the world, let us now look at how Christ defeated death. Death came as a result of the disobedience of one man, Adam. However, the good news is that death is defeated in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us see how this happened.

The problem of man is that he is a sinner. This truth is repeated loud and clear throughout the Bible. Man cannot please God because of sin. God demands perfect righteousness to enter his kingdom. Therefore, God made a way for man to become righteous. It is by man’s faith in God’s Son, the Lord Jesus. Salvation comes solely by faith. Man cannot work hard enough to get access to heaven. However, man can believe in Jesus, be saved by grace, be declared righteous by the heavenly Father and go to heaven with nothing but faith to show for it.

Imagine for a moment that there are two doors in an empty room. One door is labelled “do” and the other is labelled “done”. Those two doors represent the religion and belief system in the world. Every system is a “do” or “done” religion. The “do” religions are all based on the notion that man must do something to please God—such as praying, joining a church, giving money, making a sacrifice, getting baptised, making a pilgrimage, wearing certain clothing, keeping the Ten Commandments, going to mass, etc. Although all the “do” religions may appear different from the outside, they all require their followers to do something in order to earn salvation.

Religions like Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Mormonism, and denominations such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Roman Catholics are all examples of “do” religions. Every religion in the world is in this category except one. Christianity is a “done” religion. Those who are truly saved have not done anything because Jesus already did everything that was necessary.

All professing Christians reading this magazine are either seeking to enter or have entered through one of these two doors. You are either in the “do” religion where you are trying to find your way to heaven, or you are in the “done” religion where you know that everything has already been done for you. You must be sure before God of the religion you are seeking to embrace.

In the death of Jesus, we have what Jesus “did” so that we do not need to do anything. Through his death man is redeemed and justified. Being justified means to declare one not guilty. This is the work of God whereby he accepts man as righteous because of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Redemption is setting one free after the payment of a ransom price. To put it another way, when Jesus is received as our Saviour, God applies the price that Jesus paid on the cross to our account and declares us righteous. He thereby frees us from the condemnation and the consequences of our sins. Therefore, there is nothing about which man can boast in the matter of salvation. Instead of man taking the credit for the work that only God can do, all glory and honour must be given to God.

 What is the result of Christ defeating death?

In the death of Jesus, sin is conquered and in his resurrection it is defeated forever. When Jesus died on the cross, Joseph of Arimathaea took the body and prepared it for the burial and placed it in a new tomb (John 19:38–42). After they placed his body in the tomb, the Jewish leaders asked Pontius Pilate to seal the tomb and place a detachment of Roman soldiers at the tomb to prevent the disciples from stealing the body (Matt. 27:62–66). After three days, a supernatural event happened. The stone that was used to seal the tomb was rolled away by the Angel of the Lord. This could not have been done by the disciples as they were off in the upper room hiding in fear (John 20:19). God rolled the stone away.

When Mary found the tomb in this condition, she ran to tell the disciples. When the disciples got to the tomb, they found it empty as she had told them. All that they saw in the grave were the grave clothes of Jesus Christ. When the news of the resurrection became public knowledge, the Jewish leaders concocted a story to try and conceal the fact that Jesus was alive (Matt. 28:11–15).

However, the condition of the tomb proved their tale to be a lie. If it was the disciples that had removed the body of Jesus as the Jews claimed, how did they remove the body without disturbing the wrappings? Would they have had the time to be so orderly? Since all of them fled the night he was arrested, would they have attempted such a thing (Mark 14:50)? If it was the Jewish leaders that took his body, they would have simply produced the corpse when the disciples began to proclaim the resurrection. It was God who brought his Son from the dead, to defeat death.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:54–55, reminds us of the final victory over death. Paul quotes from Isaiah and Hosea. He uses Hosea’s sting of death metaphor in implying that death left its sting in Jesus the same way a bee leaves its sting in its victim. On the cross, Jesus bore death’s entire sting so that we would not have to bear any of it. When sin’s penalty is removed, death merely interrupts our earthly life and ushers us into the heavenly realm of glorious bliss. Herein, we will worship and praise God forever.