The Shadow of Death – Psalm 23:4-5

Death is something that none of us care to talk about. We would rather just ignore it and not think about it. Death is dark. Death is full of sorrow. Death is painful. Death is something that we fear. The shadow of death that the Psalmist refers to is a picture of the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is the embodiment of death. When you think of death, you can look no further than the cross. The cross reveals three things about death. Our understanding of these three things will take away any fear we have of death.

The cross reveals the cause of death (Romans 5:12). The Bible is very clear that death is a result of sin. Death did not exist in the world until the fall of man. Death is part of the curse that comes from sin. The price of sin is death. The only way sin can be atoned for is through death. On the cross, Jesus took our place in death. He paid the price of sin for us. It was my sin and your sin that put Jesus on the cross. If there were no sin, there would have been no need for the cross. Sin is the cause of death.

The cross reveals the pain of death (Mark 15:15-39). Death by crucifixion is the most painful death known to man. It is more gruesome than anything you can possibly imagine. The greatest pain that Jesus endured was not the scourging. It was not the crown of thorns. It was not the nails in His hands and feet. Nor was it the spear that was thrust into His side. As painful as it was, the greatest pain He endured was not the mockery that came from those He created in His image. However, the greatest pain that Jesus endured on the cross was the moment when He cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” You see, it was in that moment that the sins of the whole world were placed upon His shoulders. It was in that moment when your sin and my sin was placed upon Jesus. The weight of every sin ever committed and every sin that will be committed by every individual person who has lived on this earth was placed on Jesus in that moment. God the Father, being merciful, looked the other way. He could not look at Jesus, for if He did, His full wrath would fall upon Him because of the sin placed upon Him. In that moment, Jesus felt the full brunt of death. He experienced the ultimate penalty of sin, separation. There Jesus, on the cross, was alone. The pain of death is the separation that it brings. Death is separation from God. Because of our sin, we all deserve to be separated from God. We all deserve to be forsaken by God. The cross shows us what we deserve. It shows us the pain of death.

The cross reveals the victory over death (Psalm 23:5). The Psalmist describes a banquet that is celebrated in the presence of his enemies. This is a victory celebration. When Jesus laid down His life on the cross, it provided victory over death. Jesus did not stay on the cross. He rose again from the grave, conquering death. My friend, there is victory over death. You do not have to be eternally separated from God. Through Jesus there is victory. Those who go to the cross and believe on the Lord Jesus, they shall be rescued from the pain of death. They will be set free. They will be victorious over death.

What about you? The only way to avoid the full pain of death. The only way to avoid separation from God is to be believe on the Lord Jesus. Have you done that? Do you know Jesus as your Savior?

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