When the news of Carrie Fisher’s death hit the internet, the blame was universally directed toward one perpetrator: 2016.
Carrie joins a sorrowfully long list. 2016 claimed the lives of celebrity names such as Gene Wilder, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Nancy Reagan, Harper Lee, and Prince. With well over 50+ celebrity names on the list, the collective cry from the general populace responds in unison: make it stop!
To be sure, this December 31st the world will eagerly await the final countdown, bidding “good riddance” to a year they would rather just forget. Yet, deep down every human being knows that January 1, 2017 will not abolish death or sorrow or pain. More beloved actors, musicians, and political figures will leave this world in the New Year. More siblings, grandparents, and close friends will pass. Tossing your 2016 calendar in the trash will not conquer death; all the world can hope for is perhaps a little less of it. However, with each breaking news story comes the reminder that no one--young or old, rich or poor, famous or unknown---can escape death.
Psalm 49 provides a sobering reminder: “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live forever and never see the pit” (vv. 7-9). The celebrities we lost this year may have accumulated wealth and fame, but none of it was enough to buy off death. A celebrity’s accomplishments will not make it past the grave, for “when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed--and though you get praise when you do well for yourself--his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light” (vv. 17-19).
Psalm 49 concludes with a blunt statement: “Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish” (v. 20). If wealth and prestige cannot buy off death, what chance do you and I have?
Our world has been subjected to death and decay ever since the sin of Adam. Death is a natural result of our rebellion against God, and as much as we may try, we cannot escape its grasp. Death is what we all deserve because of our sin, and it will continue in 2017...and 2018...and every year thereafter as long as sin exists.
2016 isn't to blame; sin is.
In the entire history of our decaying planet, there was only One Man who defeated death. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to earth and died on a cross so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Heb. 2:14-15). He took the penalty that we fully deserve for our rebellion.
For us, who cannot ransom our own lives, Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6) so that we could be “ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Through Christ, you can escape the clutches of the enemy that no musician, politician, actor, or millionaire can escape: death. Whether your annual income is seven figures or one; whether people know your name or not; the “precious blood of Christ” can ransom you from death. And if you have been bought by Christ, then you can have confidence that he is coming again. He will come to judge the wicked and establish his kingdom, and when he comes, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
But until then, creation groans.
While the rest of the world eagerly awaits the New Year, let us eagerly await the hope of Christ’s return. While the rest of the world anticipates the final countdown of the dreaded year 2016, let us anticipate the final countdown of eternity--when our Savior and Redeemer, who has ransomed us, makes all things new.
While the rest of the world cries out, “Come quickly, 2017,” let us cry out, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
If you would like to know more about how you can have this blessed hope, click here.
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