When the year started I witnessed an accident. I saw a young man riding on his motorcycle crash into a car. I was a bit far from the scene, but I saw his body thrust up and hit the road. He died on 1st January 2020 at about noon.
Call me superstitious, but that accident was a bad sign. People are always happy when the year starts. We still hope for the best. Yet, I struggled to keep up my cheerful Spirit. Several months after the incident, the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the world. I witnessed one death. But now, I was witnessing multiple deaths. I felt depressed, and I whispered a prayer to GOD.
I said, “Dear GOD, Death is trending again.”
The Genesis of Death
Christianity teaches that the genesis of death is sin. The first man and woman, called Adam and Eve, disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. This disobedience led to GOD creating death. GOD said, “You shall have to work for your food, until the day you return to the ground, for out of the ground you were taken. You are dust, and to dust, you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). In the same book, GOD shortened the lives of human beings because of sin. The generation of Noah was a sinful generation. The Bible says that they were so corrupt that it grieved GOD. So GOD said, “They shall live 120 years and no longer” (Genesis 6:3). So GOD not only allowed death but also limited our life span.
The book of Ecclesiastes seeks to capture the disillusionment created by birth and death. The Philosopher who wrote that book complained that life is repetitive. The sun rises and sets, the wind blows, all streams run to the sea, same old same old. The Philosopher said, “All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it.” So the Philosopher took on a project. In this project, he tried to enjoy himself as much as he could. Still, he got frustrated. The Philosopher went ahead and observed the lives of others. Yet, even those with wealth were not satisfied. By the end of the day, we die and leave everything here on Earth. All that we labored for, we leave behind.
Ecclesiastes describes death as the great equalizer. The Philosopher said, “The fate of the fool is also the fate of the wise. So what have I gained from being wise? Even my wisdom is vanity, for there is no lasting remembrance for the wise, just as the fool. Alas, the wise man dies just like the fool” (Ecclesiastes 2:16).
The Philosopher’s speech is also repeated in Psalms 49:10. This verse states, “For it is clear that wise men die, and the foolish and the senseless both perish and leave their wealth to others.”
What can we conclude from these scriptures? What can we conclude from the Genesis of death and GOD shortening our lives?
We can conclude this: GOD values character. GOD values good deeds. GOD values a good spirit more than the material accomplishments that we work so hard to get. GOD wants us to prioritize the spiritual and to value it more than we value the material.
The Philosopher hints at this conclusion. He says, “God makes everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts, yet so that man can’t find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
GOD put the desire for eternity in our hearts. Yet, people can’t figure it out. Human societies have made so many accomplishments. People have stepped on the moon. There are all these powerful telescopes that have revealed so much to us. Also, we have made advancements in medicine. Yet, we haven’t figured out eternal life.
JESUS is the Second Adam
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—[Romans 5:12 English Standard Version].
Human beings all over the world are connected. In Genesis, the first man is called Adam. In the Swahili language, a man is called “mwana-adam-u,” which translates as “son of Adam.” The Kiswahili language developed as a result of the interaction between Arabs and the Natives living in East Africa. This interaction also led to the term “bin-adam-u,” which also translates as “son of Adam.” In Arab, “bin” means “son of.
We all have a common ancestry. Yet, the Bible says that just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), eternal life and salvation came to the world through another man (Jesus Christ).
Jesus Christ is called the “Second Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). Yet Jesus was not “made from dust” like our ancestor Adam. Jesus came from heaven. It was God’s will that Jesus should be formed through the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in Mary. You see, if Jesus was made the same way all babies are made, then he would have had the stain of sin that the first Adam had.
We say, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” If Jesus was made as a result of the union between man and woman, then He would have been a corrupted sacrifice, for Jesus was the sacrifice that took away the sin of the world (Hebrews 9:25).
GOD is ALL POWERFUL. He made human beings and life itself. So, i don’t find it difficult to understand how Jesus formed in the womb of a virgin.
I don’t have time to explain why Jesus had to come. But, I will summarize it in four points:
- Jesus is GOD’s gift to us/to the world (John 4:10)
- Jesus conquered death and sin for us (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).
- Jesus is a sign that GOD loves us/GOD loves His creation.
- Jesus is a sign that we can overcome sin, and in doing so, conquer death.
Just as the first Adam is a descendant of many, the second Adam has many descendants. The Bible calls Jesus the “first of the righteous generation” (Psalms 112:2/Psalms 14:5). Jesus is the Adam of all the righteous people, starting from Abel in Genesis to the last righteous human being who will be left standing towards the end of human time.
Jesus resurrected from death. He resurrected both body and Spirit. In short, he resurrected as a full human being. After resurrecting, he ascended at the right hand of GOD. What happened to the second Adam (Jesus) is what GOD promises those who die believing in Him. GOD promises us resurrection (a new body) and eternal life with Him.
Coping with Death
Different cultures had different ways of coping with death. To the Muslim, the best way to escape the pain is to bury the body as fast as possible. In other cultures, the family of the dead would hold wakes where they would commemorate the life of the dead.
A tribe in the Philippines blindfolds their dead. They dress the deceased person in the best clothes and put them on a chair outside their house.
In my culture, we coped with death by adopting the belief that “life is a cycle, and it must move on.” What I mean is that when we buried grandparents, we would name children after the loved ones that we had lost. My name, for instance, is the name of my father’s mother. The firstborn and the second born are named after the parents of the husband. The children who come after them were named after the parents of the mother. This culture helped us move on.
Unfortunately, we are in the era of globalization (everything’s the same). The Western way of burying scars the heart. We dress in black, buy a gloomy caskets and put the body in the ground. The trauma that comes from “lowering the casket and pouring the soil on the casket.”
The process of burial imprints the reality that the loved one is truly gone.
To make matters worse, we adopted the liberal practice of naming. People no longer name their children after their dead relatives. We give them fancy names like “Arya, Precious, or Dan,” This culture erosion made coping worse.
But whatever way you choose to cope, the reality is, they are gone.
GOD’s View of Death
GOD views death the same way we view birth. This means that death is the beginning of another journey in human life. It is a journey of the Spirit.
For the physical comes first, then the spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:46).
Jesus called death, “sleeping.” The first time he said to mourners that the dead person was sleeping, the mourners laughed at him. After they were done laughing, Jesus looked at the dead girl and said, “Talitha Koum,” which means “daughter, get up” (Mark 5:41).
In another story, Jesus’ friend, Lazarus, falls sick. The sisters of Lazarus sent a message to Jesus, telling him, “The one whom you love is unwell” (John 11:3). On hearing this, Jesus delays at the place where he was. Lazarus ended up dying from his illness. But Jesus, being the son of GOD, knew that Lazarus was dead. So Jesus told his disciples, “Lazarus sleeps.”
“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to wake him out of sleep (John 11:11).
Four days after the death of Lazarus, Jesus comes. Lazarus’ sister rushed to Jesus and told him, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” But Lazarus’ sister-Mary thought Jesus meant the resurrection that will happen on the last day. Jesus clarified this to her by saying, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall not die” (John 11:25-26).
Do you believe this?
The Bible describes burying as planting. It says this:
Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, but it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, then there is a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:43).
I said to GOD, “You speak life, yet there is death outside. You speak hope where I see darkness.”
And GOD said, “It is easier for a human to shut the doors of a casket. Yet, the Messiah will come, and all people will wake from their sleep. But until then, let them sleep for now.”
It comforts me that death is not the end. When we resurrect, we resurrect to celebrate the second coming of Christ. We resurrect and join the gathering of the spirits of good people made perfect (Hebr 12:23).
I will stand next to my beloved when they wake up from their sleep. They will ask me, ‘How long was I gone?’ And I will answer them, ‘It’s been fifty years without you.’ Then they will tell me, ‘I barely noticed, I was in a deep dream. How did you guys go on without me?’ ‘It was hard, but a day at a time, we managed it.’
Then I will tell my beloved, let us go to Zion-the city of GOD. I shall hold them by the hand, and we shall walk towards the light of the Son of GOD. We shall be with GOD forever.
This comforts me. I hope it comforts you too.
There was a time when there was no death. There was a time when there was no human being on Earth. Therefore, you can be sure a time will come when the dead will rise to life.
Thereby death is swallowed up in victory (the resurrection of Jesus Christ). Oh death, where is your victory? oh death. where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us victory through our LORD Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:55).