DayBreaks for 6/20/19 – Receiving a Death Sentence

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DayBreaks for 06/20/09: Receiving a Death Sentence

From the DayBreaks archives, June 2009:

I always find video clips of court sessions where the defendant receives a death sentence interesting.  It is the expression, or lack thereof, on the face of the defendant that interests me.  Sometimes there is no reaction, sometimes they are stunned, at other times they have a very strong physical reaction.  I have often wondered how it must feel to them at that moment when the sentence is read. 

Last week, my beloved boxer, Casper had a close call.  We were going out for our daily walk to the mailbox to get the bills and junk mail.  We’d barely walked out of the garage and he collapsed and struggled to get back up.  After a few seconds that seemed like hours, he gave up struggling and lay in my arms.  I felt for his heartbeat and could feel nothing.  He stopped breathing.  I was at first puzzled, hinking perhaps he’d hurt his hind leg, but then the reality hit me: injured legs don’t stop hearts or breathing.  And my worst fear came to mind: that Casper, like the last boxer I had before him, had dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart).  It is a relatively common problem in boxers and it had taken Ramses’ life when he was just 5 years old.  All I could think to do with Casper was hold him, talk to and pet him, and then it hit me: do CPR and see if you can get his heart beating and lungs working again.  So, I thumped him on the ribcage a few times, gave him a few breaths of air, and (praise God!) he came back.  Today, you’d never know anything happened by looking at him or watching him.

We took him to the vet who ran tests. I expected to hear the worst – to hear a death sentence pronounced on my beloved dog: “Casper has dilated cardiomyopathy.”  But instead, the vet said that the heart looked good, the EKG was perfectly normal.  So, the cause of the collapse remains a mystery.  It made me think, however, about death sentences.

It was the apostle Paul who referred to the sentence of death in 2 Cor. 1:9-10 (NIV): Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…” 

In context, Paul is describing the sufferings they endured in order to preach the gospel.  I believe that when we were born, we all received a sentence of death due to our sin nature.  If you are born a human, you are born with that sentence hanging over your head.  You can’t avoid it by having your parents sign some kind of waiver.  The only way to avoid the death sentence is to be given a full and complete pardon by the Judge.  As Paul put it, we have been given the sentence of death so that we will rely on God rather than our own wiles and cleverness or our ability to excuse or argue that we’re not guilty of sin.  God has pronounced sentence: The soul that sins shall die and The wages of sin is death.

The problem is that we often fail to remember that we are under a death sentence until Christ gives us the reprieve and grants us real life.  Casper will die someday.  I will die someday.  But by God’s incredible grace, I shall live again.

Prayer: Father, death is such an enemy.  You have told us that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift You offer us is life through Christ Jesus.  May we consciously live in the awareness that all that is in this created world is passing away, including our physical bodies, and that we need the breath of Life more than we could ever imagine.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

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DayBreaks for 3/31/15 – Death Sentence

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DayBreaks for 3/31/15: Death Sentence

Do you recall either of the movies, Dead Man Walking or The Green Mile?  Both of those movies were about prisoners on death row and their impending execution.  I’ve often wondered what goes through the mind of someone in such a situation as the days pass by and the appointed time of execution comes nearer…and then finally arrives.  What do they think about in their final hours?  What about their feelings and emotions as the seconds tick off along with their heartbeats? 

There are those who have cancer…who also know that their end is approaching.  They may not know a date and time, but they know it is coming. 

Then, there was Jesus.  He was the only one who knew his execution was coming on the day we call “Good Friday”.  But he knew, oh, he knew!  He had spoken of his destiny in no uncertain terms, but his disciples just didn’t get it.  And so he had to bear the foreknowledge alone.  On this day nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus knew that he had 96 hours (give or take) before his execution.  What was the human side of Jesus thinking?  How could he possibly contain his emotions?  What was he thinking on this day 2000 years ago at the very moment you are reading this?

To all appearances, he was the epitome of cool and calm.  Until, that is, the Garden of Gethsemane when he was in “agony”.  Even God has emotions…and Jesus was also 100% human.  I cannot fathom it…

When I was in Gethsemane this summer, we entered the church that contains the stone where it is said Jesus prayed.  I was in tears thinking of what he must have felt and experienced there.

The other day as I thought about this DayBreaks, it dawned on me that we all have a death sentence.  We’ve lived with it from the moment of conception.  We try to pretend it doesn’t exist…but it does.  It is every bit as real as any death sentence handed down from a judge. 

But if Easter means one thing, it surely must mean this: this death sentence can be overturned, and indeed, the ultimate death sentence is overturned for all who put their faith and trust in Jesus.

PRAYER: Thank you, Jesus, for taking our ultimate death sentence onto your own shoulders at Calvary…and then for proving Your power to overturn even death itself!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2015, Galen C. Dalrymple.

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