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Jesus Died to Give You Life

Are you afraid of death? If so, you’re not alone.

Living is what we know. We are programmed for life—physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Every part of us longs for life—eternal life—because God designed us that way.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11a).

Death is foreign to us. We’ve never seen it, we can’t imagine where it leads, and we instinctively fight it. We were created for life; if not for sin, we would never know death.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Jesus Died to Give Us Eternal Life

The Apostle Paul called death our last enemy:

“The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26).

It’s natural for us to fear this enemy, but the death of Jesus has given those who know Him the certainty of eternal life. Through His death and resurrection, He not only justified us—put us right with God—but also took our death sentence, which carried with it eternal separation from him, and exchanged it for life eternal with Him and with fellow believers.

Pastor Adrian Rogers said that because Jesus died for our sins, for those who know Christ, death is but a shadow. He told this story:

“Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, one of the great preachers, lost his wife while she was yet a young woman. Shortly after his wife’s funeral, Dr. Barnhouse was downtown doing some shopping with his young daughter, and the little girl was looking around, observing things. And on the wall of a great department store, there was a shadow of a semi-truck, even bigger than the truck itself.

“The little girl said, ‘Daddy, have you ever seen such a big shadow of a truck?’ He said, ‘No, dear, I don’t believe I have.’ And then, God said, now’s the time to teach her the lesson. He said to her, ‘Sweetheart, I want to ask you a question. If you had a choice, which would you rather be run over by—the truck or the shadow of the truck?’ ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘Daddy, that’s easy. I’d rather be hit by the shadow than by the truck.’ And Dr. Barnhouse said, as a tear welled up in his eye, ‘Honey, it was only the shadow that hit Mommy. The truck hit Jesus 2,000 years ago.’

“Aren’t you glad, if you know the Lord Jesus, death is only a shadow? Now, a shadow can frighten you, but it can’t hurt you. And, as a matter of fact, you can’t have a shadow without a light, and Christ is that light. If you keep your face toward the light, the shadow will fall behind you. You won’t even see it.”

Pastor Rogers pointed us to two Scripture passages—Isaiah 53 in the Old Testament and 1 Corinthians 15 in the New Testament—to help us understand why Jesus died on the cross, the reality of the resurrection of Jesus, and the gift of eternal life for every person who believes in Jesus as Savior and Lord.

Isaiah 53: The Substitute Took Our Punishment

“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).

The death of Jesus Christ was a vicarious death for all mankind. This means that, for those who accept this substitution and are in Christ, He took upon Himself our separation from God.

“The Bible says that as Jesus was dying, He was cut off from the land of the living,” (See Isaiah 53:8.) Pastor Rogers explained. “Here’s the Lord Jesus, who had always been in the bosom of the Father from eternity. Now He’s separated from God the Father. He cries from that cross, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ (Matthew 27:46, KJV). And the demons of Hell taunted Him, and Hell had a holiday. And the rabble mocked Him. The disciples fled from Him. And the Lord Jesus is suspended between Heaven and Earth there, alone on that cross, lifted up. And the sun refused to shine.

“When King David died, he could say, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me’ (Psalm 23:4, KJV). But I want to tell you, Jesus walked that lonesome valley by Himself. He could not say, ‘Thou art with Me.’ He had to say, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ Why? I’ll tell you why. He was taking your place.

“This is vicarious death. He took our sin. He took our shame. He took our suffering. He took our separation. And I love Him. I love Him. I love Him. And you need to love Him.”

For more about how Isaiah 53 tells the story of the Gospel in its entirety—Jesus’ Virgin Birth, His sinless life, His sacrificial death, His resurrection, and His return—read the article, "The Messianic Prophecies of Jesus."

1 Corinthians 15: The Last Adam Leads Us Home

“And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Corinthians 15:45).

While Adam’s sin brought death—a death every human being entered into with his or her own sin—Jesus’ righteousness brought life—eternal life that every human being can enter into individually by personally accepting Christ’s gift of salvation.

Pastor Rogers used this story as a metaphor to help us understand we need to tie ourselves to Jesus and follow His lead:

“I read somewhere of some men who were climbing the Matterhorn, that majestic mountain in Switzerland. There were two guides and two tourists climbing together in order—a guide, a tourist, a guide, a tourist. They were going up that steep, icy slope all tied together. Now the last man tied to the rope was a tourist and he put his foot down on the ice and he slipped, and he swung over the side. When he did, he was tied to the second man who was a skilled Alpine climber, but he was dragged over. When he went over, he pulled the next man over. Now when the lead guide felt the tug on the rope, he knew what was happening, and he dug his cleats in and put his pickax into the ice and bulged his muscles, and held for all he could hold, and these other three men were dangling, but they finally got their feet back, and all four of them went up the mountain together.

Now folks, I want to tell you, that first man who slipped was Adam, but that last man who held was Jesus. We’re all tied together, but thank God, that last man, the Lord Jesus Christ, has survived for us.”

Jesus overcame temptation completely without sin, died sacrificially to offer us life, gained victory over the grave through resurrection, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

As we follow Jesus forward, the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians what awaits us at the top of the mountain and how we should conduct ourselves as we climb.

“When this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ …Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55, 58).

For more of Pastor Rogers' teaching from 1 Corinthians 15 about Jesus’ victory over death, read the article, "The Resurrection of Jesus Conquered Death."

Accepting God’s Peace

Jesus died to give you life. He has effectively removed the fear of death and put peace it its place. But like all of God’s grace-gifts, it is up to us to receive this peace. Sometimes that’s challenging. Jesus knows this because He lived among us as one of us—fully God and fully Man.

Shortly before Jesus’ own death on the cross, the Gospels record His words to us communicating His peace—specifically about death—in three different circumstances.

Comfort for Lazarus’ Sisters

Before raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus wept over the loss He felt for His friend, and He empathized with the grief Mary and Martha were suffering. Notice His specific words to Martha:

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world’” (John 11:23-27).

We know Jesus loved this family because God’s Word says so earlier in the same chapter:

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (John 11:5).

Jesus loves you too! And if you belong to Him—if you have accepted His gift of salvation—you have His gift of peace. Open that gift! His words of comfort to Martha are words for you!

Comfort for Jesus’ Disciples

On the night of the Last Supper, after Judas had departed, setting the Lord’s arrest in motion, Jesus comforted His disciples with words of eternal life, putting to rest any question in their minds about the possibility that death on this Earth is the end.

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).

Lest there be any need for direction to His Father’s house, or misunderstanding about the route to take, Jesus added:

“And you know the way to where I am going. …I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:4, 6b).

Jesus’ words are for today’s disciples too. We must keep our eyes on Him; He will bring us to Himself.

Comfort for Thieves

One reason people fear death is that we have failed to live up to God’s standard in this life and know we don’t deserve an extension.

In a sense, we are all represented by one or the other of the two thieves on the cross.

That we are all thieves is indisputable. We have stolen the worship that belongs to God alone and given that worship to other “little gods.” We have stolen time that should have been spent doing His will. We have stolen in thought through covetousness. We have stolen through omission, refusing to provide the love, affection, or fellowship God’s Word commands us to offer to family or fellow believers.

Like us, the thieves crucified next to Jesus understood the bad news: no one can earn eternal life. One responded to this with pride and anger:

“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us’” (Luke 23:39).

The second thief understood the Good News—Jesus, who alone was without sin, encompassed the whole world in His grace. This thief appealed to Jesus in humility and faith.

“But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom’” (Luke 23:40-42).

Jesus responded with love. Even while He was stretched out in unimaginable pain and suffering—atoning for the World’s sins while His Father turned His face away—Jesus turned His face in love toward the thief beside Him. He looked into the heart of that repentant, dying sinner, and spoke the ultimate words of comfort:

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’” (Luke 23:43).

With Us in the Shadow

Jesus literally walked with this thief through the valley of the shadow of death (see Psalm 23:4) into Paradise.

While Jesus Himself had no one to walk through that shadow with, He promises to walk with us throughout our entire lives and through the transition to the next.

After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and just before His ascension, His final words to us were:

“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

You Can Know Peace

Why did Jesus die for us? Because He loves us. And because He died in our place, those who know Him have already died with Him and now live in Christ. Paul told the Church at Galatia:

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

If you have not yet made the great exchange—accepted the death of Jesus Christ as your own and accepted His free gift of eternal life, this is the day to turn from sin and begin a personal relationship with God. Discover Jesus.

Scripture Passages referenced in this Article:

Ecclesiastes 3:11a, 1 Corinthians 15, Psalm 23:4, Isaiah 53, John 11, John 14, Luke 14, Matthew 27:46, Matthew 28:20b

More Bible Verses About Jesus’ Victory Over Death

Isaiah 25:8
“He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.”
Romans 6:8-10
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.”
Hebrews 2:14-15
“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”