If Fairy Tales are any indication, one of mankind’s worst fears is being swallowed up.
Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, and The Gingerbread Man all include antagonists who will swallow you in one gulp, one bite, or one meal.
To be swallowed is to be consumed, to cease to exist.
Scientists recently discovered a dormant black hole in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring galaxy. A dormant black hole is one which has sucked up everything in its gravitational field, and this one is nine times the size of our sun. Just thinking about it makes me shiver. That’s a whole lot of nothing.
This week, a small child told me, “I don’t want to go to heaven.”
When I inquired, “Why not?” her younger brother answered sensibly, “Because we don’t want to be dead!”
It seems a contradiction when I tell them, “Oh! But in heaven, you won’t be dead! You’ll be even more alive than you are right now.”
Death seems like a yawning black hole, sucking us in, threatening to squelch our entire existence. Our fairy tales have taught us that we don’t want to be swallowed by death. We do everything in our power to avoid it, yet it inevitably comes for each of us.
What if there was a Hero who could swallow the Dormant Black Hole and make it into something? What if there was a fairy tale about Someone who could swallow death and make it life?
Too good to be true?
Isaiah prophesied, “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces…”
When the Lord swallows up death, it isn’t the same as when a wolf, a whale, or a witch swallows little boys or girls in fairy tales. It is more.
Not only does death cease to exist (“The last enemy to be destroyed is death,” reads the tombstone of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series, and also coincidently 1 Cor. 15:26), but Life now reigns forever without any natural predator. This means Life as we have never yet known it.
When the Lord Jesus swallows death, it turns the fairy tales and our fears inside out. Everything works backward. Instead of a dormant black hole of nothingness, it leaves tremendous Life and Light. All will be swallowed up in His goodness, making everything more vibrant, more alive, and more perfect than it ever was before.
I once stepped on a nest of honeybees while wading across a mountain stream. Six of the little stingers ensured that I couldn’t fit my foot into a shoe for a week! Once you’ve been stung, you go out of your way to avoid bees.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “The sting of death is sin.” We only fear being swallowed by death because of our sin. However, Jesus is the Hero who takes our sin (and the sting of death) away, inviting us into Life everlasting.