Jesus Christ, my sure defense
And my Savior, now is living!
Knowing this, my confidence
Rests upon the hope here given
Though the night of death be fraught
Still in many an anxious thought.
Luther was well aware of the appalling nature of recriminations that take place at the time of death. Even when we are gravely ill the recrimination’s begin from three of what the Bible calls our deadly enemies – the world, our own flash, and the devil. The world starts in with all the usual accusations. Why didn’t you take better care of yourself? Why didn’t you take this vitamin? Why did you do this and not do that ? etc. etc. and on it goes. Our own flesh turns against us And our mind starts asking all the questions that we should’ve asked during our life. Why didn’t you treat someone so so-and-so better why didn’t you take better care of your parents in their old age why didn’t you apologize for all those terrible things you did, why didn’t you say I love you to this person or that person and on and on that goes? Then the devil comes at you. You didn’t care about God when you were healthy, and now you blubber to him like a baby. In the long watches of the night when it’s quiet and no one is around that’s your conscience talking. That’s your conscience telling you all the things you didn’t do. You couldn’t be dragged into the church while you were alive and now you’re wondering if they’ll drag you into the church when you’re dead. What’s the purpose of that? What good is that going to do you when all the prayers of a lifetime can’t wash away the things that you’ve done in the last three days?
These are very real things these are the pangs of death, these are the chords of death that encompass us.
Luther was powerfully aware of these things. He told his friends that when these anxious thoughts would come to him, especially when the law and the devil accused him he would say “go ahead and accuse me. Everything you say about me is right. I have one who stronger than your accusations. I have one who took your accusations to the cross and wiped my slate clean. Say the worst you can about me, but I have one who is forgiven me and credited to my account his own perfect life and righteousness”.
This hymn verse powerfully strengthens the hope that we have because of Jesus resurrection. My catechism says that because Christ rose I know that I’ll rise to. Because Christ rose I know that his teachings are true. Because Christ rose I know that God the father accepted his sacrifice for me. This is good stuff and we need to meditate upon that not just when the night of Sickness and death comes, but every day of our lives.