I laid a dead plant by the street. No one noticed.
Perhaps no one noticed because dead plants are common at our house. I’m not saying my wife has a brown thumb. I avoid saying it, not because it lacks truth, but because she will likely read this. And, I prefer to avoid being laid out cold beside the deceased fern.
But suppose that I were. Someone would notice. If my dead body were laid out by the street, I'm confident that the reaction would be different from when I laid the fern to rest. Someone passing by would call the police. The coroner would be summoned. And very soon, someone would cover up my dead body.
Why? Nobody covers a dead plant. Would they be afraid I’d get cold? Maybe it’s because I’m ugly; but they cover the pretty ones, too. No, we cover bodies because we don’t like to see death. Not just grisly ones, but any death. We don’t like to see it because we don’t like to think about death, especially our own. And it’s hard to avoid that thought when confronted by a corpse.
So, we hide the dead. Whisk them off to a home conveniently provided to insulate us from death. We steer children away from funerals, avoid the terminally ill. We prefer walking around the cemetery, not through it.
Death scares us. We know deep down it’s coming, and we fear it.
The greatest gift ever given was a way to overcome that fear. 2,000 years ago, a baby was born – a baby who, like us, would die. But his death would be different. His would be temporary. He would rise to a new life, to provide a new reality so that we too could overcome death.
“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” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Free from the fear of death - what a precious gift that came wrapped in rags, laid in a manger - a gift of God wrapped in human flesh. It was a gift not fully unwrapped until decades later when his burial clothes were torn away.
A great gift has been laid at our feet! Will we notice?