Since the children have flesh and blood
He too shared in their humanity
So that by his death
He might destroy him
Who holds the power of death – that is, the devil –
And free those
Who all their lives
Were held in slavery
By their fear of death.
It has been said that people are born in fear, and particularly, in fear of death. And of course there is truth in that belief, as no baby being born believes it is coming into life. All things being equal, a foetus lives in relative comfort in a warm, dark place, with a ready supply of sustenance, for nine months. Suddenly, the warmth disappears, the food is cut off, and the baby is literally being squeezed out of its comfortable, dark place and is pushed into blinding light, a realm of noise, and searing air rushing into its lungs for the first time. The assault on the senses could never allow a baby to believe that what was happening to it was anything other than the end of life, not the beginning. It is this traumatic experience that leaves us in place ‘of slavery to the fear of death’ for our whole lives. Added to this initial fear of death is judgment after death.
Perhaps one of the most maligned and laughable concepts to the secular world is that of Christianity’s call to be ‘born again’. Within this term there are twin consequences – the one ‘born again’ will “see the kingdom of God” and have “eternal life” (John 3:3-21). Yeshua invited/invites those who are living in the grip of the fear of death born out of their first experience, to experience birth into the ‘kingdom of God’ through the Spirit, where, unlike here, we would live forever. Those who believe Yeshua, literally conquer death through Him. They are immediately born into the kingdom of God and are alive eternally. All that remains is for the body to drop off and until it does we are to spread the Good News of what has been accomplished in and through Yeshua, and to lead others to life in the Spirit.
Of course, much complexity has been added to Yeshua’s straightforward truth. Ritual, membership, sectarianism have all played their part in keeping people from being freed from the bond ‘of slavery to the fear of death’. But still the truth remains, that what was accomplished by Yeshua’s death on the cross and His resurrection was the confirmation that what He said was true:
No one has gone up into heaven
There is only the one who has come down from heaven
The Son of Man.
Just as Moshe lifted up the serpent in the desert
So must the Son of Man be lifted up
So that everyone who trusts in him
May have eternal life.
For God so loved the world
That he gave his only and unique Son
So that everyone who trusts in him
May have eternal life
Instead of being utterly destroyed.
For God did not send the Son into the world
To judge the world
But rather so that through him
The world might be saved.
Those who trust in him are not judged
Those who do not trust have been judged already
In that they have not trusted
In the one
Who is God’s only and unique Son.
Now this is the judgment:
The light has come into the world
But people loved the darkness
Rather that the light.
Because their actions were wicked.
For everyone who does evil things
Hates the light and avoids it
So that his actions won’t be exposed.
But everyone who does what is true
Comes to the light
So that all may see that his actions
Are accomplished through God.
-John 3:13-21 (Jewish New Testament – B’rit Chadashah)
Here then, in the last few lines, we see the real reason why being ‘born again’ is maligned and avoided – the only things necessary to be ‘born again’ into the kingdom of God and eternal life is to expose who we really are, and believe Yeshua is who He said He is and did what He did for us. For some, the knowledge of the impending death of who they are in darkness, is a far more terrifying event than believing they are dying while being born without the knowledge that they are being born into life.
The choice will always be ours – we can choose this day to stay in the place ‘of slavery to the fear of death’ or we can be ‘born again’ by the Spirit to the newness of life in Yeshua and enter the kingdom of God forever.
Reveal and admit who you are to God
Believe what Yeshua said is true
– no matter who you are or what you have done –
There is nothing that stands between you and God but you
– surrender and receive the Holy Spirit.
Welcome to God’s kingdom.
The Lord is coming!