As far as stories go, this is a difficult one to listen to. It is a story with a happy ending, that’s true, but the actual story itself is still difficult to hear. The story I am going to tell you is the story of planet earth. It involves the people of planet earth, the animals of planet earth, the trees and vegetation of planet earth; it is a story that involves the entire created order. It’s a story that touches all the earth at all times and through all time. This story touches everything. It’s even a story that touches God himself. What is the story? It’s the story of death.
The story of death begins when time begins. God, a good, kind, loving and righteous creator makes a perfect world out of nothing. Into this world he sets, among other things, the only thing he creates which is made in his image. It’s two people, a man and a woman. Adam and Eve. He places Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, a lush, vibrant garden full of every kind of vegetation imaginable. Succulent fruit trees, fragrant blossoms and flowers colored so brilliantly that they likely defied description. This garden was an amazing place. Adam and Eve are presented with this garden and told that they may live in it. It is their home. Perfectly climate controlled, beautiful to look at, enough plants and fruits and vegetables to feed them for a life time. They could live rent free, only they are asked to tend the garden, to keep it, to make it look as good as possible.
Now, our two protagonists are only given one rule. The rule is simple. In the middle of the garden there is a tree. They are told that of all the trees in the garden they may eat, but they may not eat of one. One solitary tree in the midst of a forest of trees. Its fruit is forbidden. Attached to that command – that directive from God that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil may not be eaten – is a consequence. If you eat of it – the moment you eat of it, you will die. We are hardly introduced to the main characters in the story, we are hardly at home in the garden of Eden – we have hardly started reading our bible and we hear the word. Death. There it is, the first time it is mentioned in the Bible is in the second chapter of the first book.
But it’s not the last time it get mentioned. Not by a long shot. In fact death dominates the pages of the Bible. The word die appears 462 times, the word died appears 189 times, the word death appears 346 times, the word dead appears 338 times, for a grand total of 1335 times the word death or one of its cognates appears in the Bible. My Thomas Nelson King James Bible only has 1044 pages, so do the math. Death appears more than an average of one time on every page of the Bible. It’s one of the Bibles dominant themes. People die. Vegetation dies. The stain and stench of death is everywhere in the Bible.
All because that original couple, the couple God created to fill the earth with people and to enjoy him forever, the original couple broke the one rule God gave them and plunged the world into sin. When that happened – look how Romans 5:12 puts it, death passed upon all men. Everyone is affected. Because of sin, death arrives into God’s creation. Death remember is the consequence for sin. And according to Rom.3:23, everyone sins. And so, death marches through the pages of human history with relentless monotony. The main characters of the Bible they die. Adam dies in Gen.5:5; Noah dies in Gen.9:29; Abraham dies in Gen.25:8; Isaac dies in Gen.35:29; Jacob dies in Gen.49:33; King David dies in 1 Kings 2:10. Like a song you get stuck in your head and can’t get it out, death is never far from our thoughts when we read the Bible. Each verse of the song of someone’s life may sound different, but the chorus is still the same. He lived to be this old, and he died. She lived to be this many years, and she died, Death, death, death. According to Hebrews 2:15, it holds all of us captive through fear. Even the central figure of all human history, the person of Jesus Christ, he comes to earth and guess what – he dies too.
But his death is unique. Not because it was on a cross – many people throughout history have died on a cross. Not because his death was painful – many people have died a painful death. Not even because of when or where it occurs, because death is no respecter of persons or places, Rich die and poor die. People die in slums, they die in mansions. That’s just the way it is. Jesus death is unique because for the first time in human history, someone dies not because of sin, but for sin. Jesus dies not because he deserves it, but because you did. According to Heb.2:9 he tasted death for everyman. Jesus death is not because of Jesus sin, because he did no sin (2 Cor.5:21). Jesus death is for your sin (Rom.6:10). Jesus dies like everyone else dies, but his death is different because of why he died. He died for you. He died for me. And his death is the way to life.
His death for us is our escape from death.
You can listen to this sermon here: http://www.fundamentalbaptistchurch.org/media.php?pageID=10