For many people HIV and AIDS and death are two sides of a coin. They may think, “If you have AIDS, you are going to die!” However, the same could be said about crucifixion. Crucifixion in Biblical times was a death sentence. The method in which a person was tortured, then nailed to a cross, hung in the blazing sun and, finally, hit with sticks to break the bones in the body, were all ways to ensure that a person who had been sentenced to death through crucifixion would die (refer the “The Passion of the Christ”).
Humanly speaking, Jesus had died. But the empty grave tells another story. It tells the story of life against all human expectations. Jesus had risen from the dead and through this act, He had conquered death and taken away the fear associated with death. In the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
Humanly speaking, HIV and AIDS is a death sentence. With medication, the proper diet and a healthy lifestyle, it is possible to live for many years after being diagnosed with HIV. But one has only to page through the obituaries in the newspaper to realise that for many people HIV and AIDS still remains a death sentence.
However, the story of the empty grave tells us that HIV and AIDS is not the end of the road. Humanly speaking it would have been so. But the empty grave tells us that God has another plan in mind – a new life in which we need not fear death any longer. In Christ, we become part of a new life, regardless of what is happening to our bodies. The empty grave tells us that God is offering us life in abundance here on earth, even if our bodies are slowly but surely being broken down. In Christ we can live life to the full before death and when we eventually die (with or without AIDS), the empty grave also assures us that we will live eternally with God.
Good Friday was followed by Easter Sunday. This gives us hope, regardless of our HIV status.
To think about (or discuss): Whom can we encourage by reminding him or her of the hope that Easter Sunday gives?
Written by Arnau van Wyngaard
This message has previously been sent out in March 2008.