“Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it” (John 5:21).
The United States Constitution grants some very special powers to the president of the United States. For example, only the president can serve as the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces. The military must take their orders from this civilian head. No one else in the world has the same authority. If some other powerful person—a senator or Supreme Court justice—were to direct the armed forces to take military action, those orders would need to be ignored. Only the president has that authority, making his office powerful indeed.
But no matter how powerful the president is, he does not have authority over everything, least of all death. He may give orders to generals and admirals and command nuclear warheads. He has the kind of power that can lawfully result in death, but that doesn’t mean he can order death around. His power pales in comparison to death’s potent pall. He has no power to restore what death takes. Death will flippantly ignore any and every presidential order.
Death doesn’t listen to us either. We’ve seen that reality in a powerful way recently, haven’t we? Try as we might to stave him off, death inevitably gets the upper hand. Even if we seem to outsmart him today, death knows that time is on his side. He’ll wait us out and capture us. All the science, tests, and vaccines in the world cannot overcome one of the famous certainties that Benjamin Franklin still lampoons from his dusty grave, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Any person with open eyes recognizes the truth the apostle Paul so clearly teaches in Romans, “The wages of sin is death” (6:23).
In other words, death is no respecter of sinful people. It takes no orders from us. The Scriptures tell us that we are all powerless before him (Romans 8:2,3). Sinful people like you and me are naturally held in slavery to fearing him (Hebrews 2:15). We need someone to rescue us from the clutches of this greatest of all enemies and from the one “who holds the power of death—that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). So we cry out in anguish with Paul: “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?” (Romans 7:24).
Only one person can rescue us, and that One is Jesus. And not only can Jesus rescue us from death, he has! How? By willingly taking on himself our burden of sin and body of death, sacrificing his perfect life for us on the shameful cross.
But—wonder of all wonders!—death could not hold him. Jesus showed his unique authority over our mutual enemy by his resurrection on Easter morn. What is more, his bodily resurrection is only a beginning! Because Jesus conquered death, death must take orders from Jesus. What comfort there is in knowing that “just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.”
There are plenty of reasons why the only road to heaven passes through Jesus. Here’s one of the most important: Only Jesus exercises authority over death. That’s power! Apart from Jesus, death is our certain and eternal sentence! With Jesus, life is ours forever! Trust him. It’s true.
Author: Peter Prange
Volume 108, Number 11
Issue: November 2021