The Day of One’s Death
Few things in life can rival the birth of a child. It is an occasion of great joy for what the future might hold for that precious life. What will he or she look like as the years go by and even more intriguing, is what will this tiny infant become in terms of personality and character? Will the child come to know God and to be known by Him as one of His at the time of his or her death?
The ensuing years after birth will tell the tale. The developing child will make mistakes and have to learn to course correct through all the ups and downs that life has to offer. His or her character will be tried and retried as the perfecting process progresses through the decades. Eventually the eagerness and strength of youth will give way to the natural physical decline of aging, that will ultimately lead to death. Before death comes, however, that begotten child of God knows full well that death will be swallowed up in the victory of the resurrection.
So, which is better, the day of one’s birth or the day of one’s death? Solomon wrote “A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth” (Ecclesiastes 7:1). The good name – the godly character – developed over one’s lifetime following birth, is better.
What about Christ’s birth and death? His conception and subsequent birth was a great and miraculous occasion that is well documented in scripture, something that every believer is thankful for. Christ’s birth is not, however, something our Father commands us to celebrate. Rather, He commands us to solemnly reflect on Christ’s painful, sacrificial death given in our behalf at Passover time each year. “On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover” (Leviticus 23.5). Christ’s life was a miraculous blessing, but His death is priceless, as the Apostle Peter explains. “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Peter 1:18-19). At our baptism, Christ’s death redeemed us from the death penalty that we had each incurred through sin. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:4-5). Christ’s birth was just the beginning of the miracle that His sinless death would bring. Through His death, our present character can be perfected over time and thereby our physical deaths can be swallowed up in the victory of the resurrection.