“You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday”
For all of our medical advances, pestilence and plague continue to stalk our world, bringing fear in their wake; as the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible tells us, there is nothing new under the sun. However, since Ecclesiastes, something new has happened: Jesus. As 1 Corinthians 15 summarises, because of Jesus’ resurrection, those who trust in him can say these extraordinary words:
“Where o death is your victory? Where o death is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 1 Corinthians 15: 55-57
Make no mistake, behind our Covid-19 anxiety stalks humanity’s oldest foe and deepest fear: death. The writer of the Bible book of Hebrews explains Jesus’ accomplishment for us in striking terms:
“Since we have flesh and blood, Jesus too shared in our humanity so that by his death he might break the power of death- that is, the devil,- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” Hebrews 2:14-15
We might protest that death holds no fear for us in our logical scientific age, but Covid-19 has shown that we are kidding ourselves. We are deeply unsettled at the thought of catching a disease we have no control over that could kill us.
According to the Bible, the reason death feels like an enemy to be fought and resisted is because it is an enemy. Ever since humanity as a whole rejected God as our loving king (an attitude the Bible calls sin), death, and the suffering that leads to it, have been a sad reality in our world; the just and inevitable consequence of rejecting the God of life.
And try as we may, death is not an enemy we have been able to vanquish, because sin is a disease we have not been able to cure. But where we are powerless, in love, God has acted on our behalf.
Jesus ‘shared in our humanity so that by his death he might break the power of death’. He died on the cross as a substitute for us, facing for us the judgement that our sin deserves. Our incurable condition of sin which leads to our unconquerable enemy of death has been fully dealt with by Jesus, and so the power of death has been broken. As Jesus rose from the dead three days later, this was publicly and victoriously confirmed: Where o death is your victory?’
In short, wonderfully, Jesus has the power to break the grip of fear that death has over us, and that the devil has held us captive under.
But, in order to benefit from Jesus’ victory over the great enemy of death, we must come to him and put our trust in him personally. As the Bible says, we must ‘Repent and believe the good news’ (Mark 1:15). We must stop kidding ourselves that we are in control of life, and that death holds no fear for us, we must confess the attitude of sin that we all have, and we must turn to Jesus for complete forgiveness and new life, which begins in our hearts now, and stretches through the grave into eternity.
For those who do, God comes into our lives and assures us that as God’s children we are now completely secure in Jesus, the only one who has risen victorious over death.
Given this good news, here are a few practical ways we might respond to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Come to Jesus and entrust your life to him
If you haven’t done this yet, perhaps Covid-19 is the prompt you need to do so. Don’t delay, and get in touch if you want to chat more about it.
Keep fixing your eyes on Jesus
Christians can know about the hope Jesus holds for us in theory but seemingly forget all about it when faced with something like Covid-19. We mustn’t. The more we fix our eyes on Jesus and his victory for us, the less our fear will be.
Share the hope we have in Jesus
Jesus and only Jesus has risen victorious over death. He is God’s place of forgiveness, rescue, and new life. Pray for opportunities to share this hope with friends and family and neighbours who do not yet know it.
Reflect the compassion of Jesus to all
Jesus not only won victory over death, but he walked with us through our fears and sufferings with compassion. He now calls his people to do the same, even when that is personally costly. After all, Jesus’ compassion ultimately cost him his life. Who can you reach out to in compassion?