Revelation 2:10 - (Jesus said) "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life."
At 3:05 in the afternoon of March 18, 1937, Lemmie Butler, instructor of manual training at the New London Consolidated School in Texas turned on a sanding machine. The switch from Mr. Butler's sanding machine caused a spark; that spark ignited a mixture of natural gas and air which hovered, unnoticed, in the workroom. That fierce flame raced immediately into a large, enclosed space beneath the school house -- a space into which natural gas had been leaking for an indefinite period of time.
Witnesses say the school seemed to actually lift into the air.
The explosion was heard four miles away; a two-ton concrete slab was thrown 200 feet. There had been 500 students and 40 teachers in the building that day; almost 300 died. Long after the debris had been cleaned away, questions remained. Most of those questions began with the word, "Why?" "Why couldn't the accident have happened ten minutes later. Ten minutes later school would have been dismissed and the students would have been on their way home." "Why? Why did one student survive and the next one die?" "Why did they have to die?"
Ours is a world which is both frightened and fascinated by death. When people come upon an accident, in horror they put their hands over their eyes, and then they open their fingers so they can get a glimpse of the wreckage. In truth, it's difficult to have a devotion about the whys? and how comes? of death.
It's difficult because I know a percentage of you have problems with death, in general. Some of you think that if you ignore death, it will go away. Then there are others who think that there is no point in talking about the questions of death because discussion is just suspicion and speculation. And I dare not forget those who don't want to talk about death because it's simply too close to them.
I can understand. But how about hearing Jesus speak about death? He does that in the 13th chapter of Luke. The Savior had been talking about all kinds of things when the subject of some people who had been murdered in the temple came up. People wanted to know: "Had they been especially bad? Did God have it in for them?"
That day Jesus told them: God hates death as much, even more, than you do.
If you doubt the truth of that statement, even in the least little bit, I encourage you to look at the price God was willing to pay so death -- your death -- might be destroyed. Look into the manger of Bethlehem and see God's Son, Jesus. See your Savior who was willing to leave the glory, beauty, and joy of heaven to enter a world of sorrow and sadness, to be the Sacrifice which needed to be paid for your sins.
Because death is stalking us, Jesus warns us not to waste our time pretending to be a coroner who has to do postmortems on the lives of others. Don't be concerned about the desirable or dreadful way somebody else has died. Listen to Jesus who tells us it's not the moment of your death which should concern you; it's being sure of your faith in Him because it is that faith alone which saves and will conquer death -- no matter which way it comes calling.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, death is going to come for me. If not now, then someday. Grant that I may be found firm in the faith, trusting in the Savior who died so I might live. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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