I just realized that I worship the LORD of the dead. I wonder what would happen if I walked into a church service and publicly announced, “I am here to worship the LORD of the dead!” What do you think would be the reaction?
What images does this phrase invoke? It’s interesting how we associate terminology. Usually the phrase “the dead” (insert creepy organ music here) implies some type of horror movie, séances, or animated corpses. For those of us who are Christians, perhaps the dead refers to dead bodies, graveyards, or those who have not yet believed on Christ. But to say “The LORD of the dead” would, for me anyway, invoke images of flaming skulls, grim reapers, or at least some Grateful Dead paraphernalia. If someone were to say that they worship the LORD of the dead, I would think of some ancient pagan ritual involving upside down pentagrams, thick incense candles, and chanting strange names while dressed in long black robes. My imagination gets the better of me sometimes.
But when I say I worship the LORD of the dead, I mean that I worship the LORD Jesus Christ. I was shocked today to see that this terminology belongs to the only one who has been truly resurrected from the dead, and that’s Jesus. For a brief time, our LORD was physically dead. His body lay lifeless in a tomb. The cemetery was a temporary dwelling for the body of Jesus. While Jesus was dead, His Spirit descended into the realm of the dead, Hades.
Jesus spoke of Hades quite often. Hades referred to the Greek god of the underworld, which meant the god of the dead. Hades also referred to the realm of the dead to which all departed go to upon their death. Jesus appropriated this terminology when revealing where the dead truly go. There is a realm for the dead and Jesus went there. But He didn’t stay there.
Romans 14:8-9 If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
Maybe I’m making a big deal about a small portion of God’s word. But this passage indicates the nature of the relationship of Christ to the dead, and that relationship is that He is the LORD of the dead. He died for a reason. Other scriptures tell us that it was to pay for sin, to make us righteous, and to bring unity to mankind. But here it tells us that Jesus died in order that He might be LORD of the dead. His authority extends into the realm of the dead because He has been there and achieved victory over it.
If Jesus is your LORD, there is nothing about death that you need to fear. Images of grim reapers, talking skeletons, ghosts, or souls in torture do not need to frighten us. We know the One who has conquered death through His death and resurrection. Jesus is not just the LORD of the dead, He is the LORD of the living. All who belong to Him have been brought into life through the power of the cross, eternal life at that.
Halloween is coming up. What an opportunity to tell people about the living LORD of the dead! More importantly, let’s talk about His resurrection.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman