Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Christmas Carol (part four)

Christ Jesus…has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light (2 Timothy 1:10).

In the last devotion, we were looking at Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Today we continue our examination of this very familiar narrative.

As Act Four of the story opens, Scrooge is visited by an unspeaking spectre, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.  This terrifying shade has the look of death itself, and it beckons the old man to visit places that no one wants to see.

First, Scrooge and his guide hovered near people on the darkened streets who were discussing the recent death of someone well known but not well liked.  One suggested that he would only attend the funeral for the free food served afterwards; another felt that the deceased had been claimed by the devil, as was only proper. 

Next, the phantom took Scrooge into the worst part of town, to a dingy shop where crooked dealings were underway.  Someone had recently died, and several people had rummaged through his belongings as he lay dead on his bed.  Now they sold what they had stolen, and told jokes at the expense of the dead man whom they all despised. 

After seeing even more people rejoicing over this poor man’s death, Scrooge was led to a cemetery.  A bony finger directed the old man’s gaze towards brand new tomb.  Although it filled him with dread to look, Scrooge was compelled to read the words on the gravestone—this piece of desolate ground was his!  Horrified that he would die alone and unloved, despised and ridiculed, Ebenezer swore that he was a changed man.  Could this future be avoided?

Death terrifies us all.  We fear the end of life, and we dread being alone when the last hour comes.  We want our memory to be cherished, not forgotten or despised.  We can understand Ebenezer promising to do anything to avoid such a terrible fate.  Sadly, Dickens fails to show the old man the one ray of sunshine he so desperately needs—the Savior who died on his behalf and stepped from the tomb restored to life, proving His victory over the cold grip of death.  No one dies alone and forgotten if they have the Savior as their Friend.  Forgiven by Jesus, even the worst sinner can find peace in a blessed death.

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