THE MYSTERY OF LIFE AND DEATH
Yet that is not the greatest wonder of Ascension Day. It would seem as though one could hear the antiphonal singing of the heavenly choirs, as this perfect One passes into heaven,
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates;
And be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors:
And the King of glory will come in," (Psa. 24:7)
is the exulting challenge of the angels escorting Him. To this comes back the question, inspired by the passion to hear declared again the story of the victory,
"Who is the King of glory?"
And yet gathering new music and new meaning the surging anthem rolls,
"Jehovah strong and mighty,
Jehovah mighty in battle. . . . He is the King of glory." (Psa. 24:8-10)
Thus the song is also of One who was mighty in battle. Looking upon Him the glorified One, and listening to His words, the wonder grows. In that form all filled with exquisite beauty are yet the signs of suffering and of pain. The marks of wounding are in hands, and feet, and side, and His presence declares in His own words,
"I am . . . the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore." (Rev. 1:17-18) Ask a Jehovah Witness when their Jehovah died? The answer is impossible for them for it shows their false position concerning Jesus here revealed as Jehovah.
This is indeed a mystery demanding explanation. In the life of the Perfect, there is no reason for death. Death is the wage of sin and apart from sin there is no place for death. Sometimes men declare that death is a necessity, a part of a process. This may be declared, but cannot be demonstrated. THE MYSTERY OF LIFE has eluded all scientific examination, and therefore so also has THE MYSTERY OF DEATH. The reason for death in ordinary human life has never yet been declared. The human frame, according to scientific testimony, reconstructs itself once in every seven years. Why may not this process go on indefinitely? Why is there any necessity for death? The scientists are unable to answer the question. They can do no more than declare what seems to be a necessity from the perpetual recurrence of the experience in the human race.
What science has failed to do, revelation has clearly done. It simply and utterly states that DEATH IS PENALTY FOR SIN. Such is the meaning of the story of Genesis, and such the meaning of the explicit declaration of the apostle, "Through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned." (Rom. 5:12) If then pain be the issue of sin, and death its penalty, why has the Perfect suffered and died? As was seen in the consideration of the transfiguration of Jesus on the Holy mount, His human nature, having passed through all temptation victoriously, was metamorphosed, and might so far as it was concerned, have been received into heaven. Between that crisis and ascension, He has been to the deepest depth of suffering, and through death itself. There can be but one answer to all these questionings. He has wrought a victory for others. The One in Whom death had no place, has died in the place of those who ought to die. Gazing upon the perfections of the ascended Man, the heart is filled with astonishment, and humbled with a great shame, as the light of His glory falls upon the failure of all others. Gazing upon that Perfect One, the "Lamb as it had been slain," realizing that the wounds tell of penalty made manifest, and the words of death vanquished, the heart is filled with unutterable sense of the infinite Love, the lips break out in song,
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.
Let the water and the blood
From Thy riven side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Cleanse me from its guilt and power." (Toplady)