He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive;
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice;
The humble poor believe. (“O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” by Charles Wesley)
Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.
(John 11:43–45 NLT)
Benjamin Franklin was a skilled statesman, inventor, and publisher, but his most enduring legacy might just be his skill at crafting—and appropriating—witticisms and turns of phrase like, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” One of his most famous witticisms, which originally appeared in a play more than a half century before Franklin used it, is about the true guarantees in life: “In this world nothing can said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Unlike taxes, death is something all of humanity has invariably experienced or will someday, barring the miraculous and unforeseen. All of us have been touched by it to some degree through the loss of friends and loved ones. Yet death’s hold over us was not the way things were meant to be. It wasn’t until the first man and woman ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden that death entered into creation, but all of us have suffered under its chokehold on our world ever since. Until Jesus. Prior to His own resurrection, bringing Lazarus back to life was among one of the most visible declarations of Jesus’s power to defeat death. Many witnesses set their faith in Jesus due to this show of power, because the One who is able to conquer death is unable to be conquered by anything else. No wonder Charles Wesley yearned for a thousand tongues to be able to sing the praises of his King and Redeemer.
Death is the ultimate enemy, but it has been defeated in Christ. When we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness—when we invite God’s Kingdom to manifest itself in our hearts and our lives through our words, deeds, and thoughts—we are declaring that death’s time is nearing its end and our King will be the ultimate victor. Find a tangible way to declare Christ’s victory over death in your life, through comforting a friend in need, caring for an orphan or widow in their distress, showing hospitality to a stranger, or however else the Spirit leads you today.