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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Only a Shadow

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).

Annette had died, leaving a husband and two young daughters. Her husband was a pastor; her daughters, Kristen and Kari, were 5 and 7 respectively.

The sorrowful pastor had tried repeatedly to ease his daughters’ pain by explaining that their mother had gone to heaven. He wanted them to know that death is not a terrifying experience for a believer. But his words failed to comfort little Kristen and Keri.

Then, stopped at a traffic light on their way to the funeral home, the pastor called his daughters’ attention to the shadow of a truck that had pulled alongside their car.

“Girls,” Dad, asked, “would you rather get run over by a truck or by its shadow?”

“Daddy,” Kristen replied, “a shadow doesn’t hurt.”

“You’re right, Kristen. The Bible says that dying is like walking through a valley called ‘the shadow of death.’ When Mommy died, she walked through a shadow, and Jesus was waiting beyond the shadow to meet her.”

When Jesus voluntarily died for our sins, He took the full brunt of God’s wrath, being made sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). The physical suffering was intense, but the spiritual suffering was even more intense—inflicting on Jesus far more agony and anguish than the human mind can comprehend. Isaiah 53:11 mentions “the suffering of his soul.” Because He was bearing our sins on the cross, He became the object of divine judgment. The punishment we deserved fell on Him even to the point that God turned away from Him.

However, because Jesus experienced God’s full wrath, believers experience His full love. Because He was forsaken by the Father, believers are accepted by the Father. Because Jesus died, believers live. Because He was “run over” by death, only the shadow of death can touch us. Because He rose from the grave and ascended to heaven, He waits beyond death’s shadow to welcome us home.

© Jim Dyet

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