Second Sunday after Easter – Friday
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. —Hebrews 2:15.
Christ has redeemed us from death. Scripture says so, and such is our firm belief. And it is most certainly true. But what about this? We must die, and the germ of death grows and is rank within us. How, then, are we to understand that Christ has redeemed and freed us from death? Our dying in this present time, without Christ, is in reality the entrance to eternal death, eternal damnation. But this eternal death, eternal damnation, has been done away with entirely for us through Christ, who has redeemed us from the guilt and penalty of our sins. We, who are in Christ, need not fear eternal death. And for this reason we also need not fear temporal death. For if, in departing this life, we do not enter eternal death, is there any reason why we should be afraid to die? What, then, do we believers enter through temporal death? Eternal life. Do you not know what the Savior said to the dying robber who believed in Him? He said to Him: “Verily, I say unto thee; Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). This He could also say to us when we die. Should we, then, be afraid? And even our body He will raise from the grave, and fashion it like unto His glorious body.
Fear? No, we need not fear temporal death. Quite the reverse! When, according to the will of our Lord, the hour of our death approaches, then we need to join aged Simeon in exclaiming: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation” (Luke 2:29-30). All this has been brought to light and vouched for by the resurrection of Christ, when Christ, our Substitute, accomplished and finished the work of our salvation.
PRAYER – Our dear, risen Savior; Thou hast conquered death. In Thee, I am free from death; it can no longer fill me with fear and dread. For this I give thanks to Thee with all my redeemed heart. Oh, grant that I may more and more enjoy the knowledge of this my blessed freedom, and, being freed from the anxiety and fear of death, may commit my soul into Thy gracious hands in the hour of death. Amen.
Be Thou my consolation, my Shield when I must die;
remind me of Thy passion, when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell;
my heart by faith enfold Thee, who dieth thus, dies well.
(Hymn 172, st. 10; TLH)