Dr. John B. MacDonald
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What do you do when Death comes knocking?

Out of curiosity I did a search of my title: “When Death Comes Knocking.”

I learned that the title is also used by a musical group I’d never heard of: “Primal Fear.”

Here are some of their lyrics:

When death comes knocking
I'll stand my ground
And I won't go down

As ‘they’ say: “Good luck with that.”

We all die ultimately; we all “go down!”

So, what will you do when Death comes knocking?

Let me help you with your answer.

What a dying person told me.

Just a little while ago I was speaking with someone I’ve known all my life. She has only weeks to live.

She said, “I’m afraid.”

What would you say if you were in her place?

Other comments I’ve heard from dying people include:

  • “I’ll tell God a thing or two”;
  • “There’s nothing after death”;
  • “I expect to be reincarnated.”

My response to all of these people is “How do you know?” How do you know:

  • You’ll have a chance to “tell God a thing or two”?
  • There’s nothing on the other side?
  • Anything like reincarnation is real?

At least “I’m afraid” is an honest statement on the lips of a dying fellow human.

What will you say when Death comes knocking?

Let’s look at an incident that will help you answer the question.

A death at Bethany

John relates an incident in which a friend of Jesus dies. His name is Lazarus.

At this point, you may want to pause and read the ‘story’ in John 11:1-57.

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of what happens:

  • Lazarus dies (11:1-16). News reaches Jesus that Lazarus is sick. What struck me is Jesus delays for two days after receiving the news.
  • Martha meets Jesus (11:17-27). As Jesus approaches Bethany, Martha meets him. Is there a tone of accusation? “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
  • Jesus meets Mary (11:28-32). She repeats the statement: "Lord, if you had been here ... ."
  • The seventh sign (11:33-44). Lazarus’ body has been in the tomb for four days. When Jesus calls for the stone to be removed from the mouth of the tomb there is a protest: “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor …” (11:39) – putrefaction has already set in.

Nevertheless, they comply.

Then Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Lazarus returns from death. He is resurrected!

  • Reactions to this sign (11:45-57). Some saw what Jesus did and put their faith in him (11:45).

Unbelievably, there are those who do not believe.

If you were present how would you react?

Here are some of the things that I’m learning from this incident.

Three things to take with you:

1.         Why did Jesus delay?

If you’re like me, when people delay I conclude they're not interested, or they have something better to do.

How do you understand God delaying his response?

Jesus’ delay is intentional. He is waiting for Lazarus to be dead beyond any reasonable doubt.

Death came knocking and Lazarus ‘went down’.

The result is a demonstration of who Jesus is. Instead of a ‘mere’ healing, humanity’s great enemy, Death, is humiliated in the presence of Jesus Christ. Death is no match for the power of the Lord Jesus!

When God delays, he has his reasons. Expect something greater and more glorious than you can imagine.

2.         A new perspective on death.

This incident is enough to give any person a new perspective on death and dying.

Death is not the end. When it came knocking, Jesus knocked right back. Death doesn’t have enough power to resist the might of the Lord Jesus.

The reality of resurrection drives a stake through the fiction of reincarnation.

Jesus Christ is in control. His power is more than sufficient to deal with death and its consequences.

If you want a great summary on this subject read 1 Corinthians 15.

What a difference this makes when death comes knocking.

3.         Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

This is what Jesus says of himself. He confirms it by the historical event of the resurrection of a very dead Lazarus.

  • Resurrection and life cannot be separated from Jesus. You can’t discard Jesus and expect either resurrection or life!
  • Resurrection and life are present right now in and through Jesus Christ. This is not limited to some future “pie in the sky” hope. For those who know and love and follow Jesus the power of resurrection and the dynamism of His life – the life of the kingdom – are to be experienced here and now.

There are other things I’m learning from this incident. We’d like to hear what you’re learning and experiencing as well. 

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