Michael Jackson, Death, and You

Jeff Straub points out four things the death of Michael Jackson should bring to our minds:

  • For most unbelieving humanity, death is the inevitable and certain conclusion to life. The majority of the human race―now numbered at more than 6.25 billion―has little hope of bypassing this ultimate end, and many face their approaching demise with a great sense of foreboding. As of this writing, coroners have not determined the cause of Jackson’s death, so whether he had sense of death’s imminence, none can say. But when one so well known dies so young (he was 50), many of those still left living are filled with a greater sense of fear and uncertainty because they realize just how tenuous life really is. Death appears certain and all, it seems, will face it. For the world, this is a frightening reality. At this juncture, believers ought to hear the Word of God echo in their ears: “It is appointed for man to die once” (Hebrews 9:27) which, in turn, should remind us of Gen. 3:19, that we come from dust and to dust we will return. Death is the great certainty in this life, especially for those who live without divine grace. It is approaching, it cannot be avoided, and it is a thing to be feared.
  • Death is the great equalizer: rich and poor, famous and obscure, male or female. Death, when it hits, brings the same physical end to all of humanity. The brain quits, the heart stops, and life, as humans define it, is over. Not even one’s personal fortune or social status can bring relief of this destiny. Again the Word of God ought to echo in our ears: “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Since all of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23), all of us can expect to receive the due recompense—the cessation of life itself. No one lives forever . . . at least not in life as we know it now. The world intuitively knows this despite all protestations to the contrary.
  • Physical death is not the end of all things; it is only the beginning. For the believer, death is the beginning of life eternal, when we are ushered into the presence of God to enjoy Him forever. For the unbeliever, death is the beginning of unparalleled judgment and unending chastisement. Though a great debate rages today on the existence of future punishment, the Bible portrays the prospect for the lost as never ending torment, “where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). If the Bible is true, then the greatest tragedy is not physical death itself, but a failure to get ready for the inevitable and to die unprepared. How many of those in our acquaintance stand at the threshold of death, even now, unprepared? Life is short, and judgment is certain.
  • Finally, God is the measure of all things. Regardless of who dies or what the circumstances of one’s death are, the final assessment of one’s life rests not in the accolades we receive from those who survive us. It comes from the perfect and final judgment of One who knows the end from the beginning. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that judgment is coming, and Rev. 20:12 describes that judgment at which the unconverted, small and great, will stand. It will be a fearful day, for none may avoid it. Hades yields up its occupants, and even the sea cannot contain all whose remains were lost in its vastness.
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    About Michael R. Jones

    Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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