Luke 23:46; 1 Corinthians 15:12-22

One of the most important decisions a person or a family can make is the selection of a good life insurance policy. Life insurance is an essential part of any financial plan because it safeguards a family’s security in the event of the death of the person who provides the income by which that family is supported. Life insurance is also important because it is one way by which the present generation can pass wealth on to the next generation. There are very few decisions we will ever make that will be as important as the decision we make about life insurance.
There are many insurance companies from which we consumers can choose, and all of them have interesting slogans that regularly appear as TV commercials and have a way of sinking into our minds. On any given day you might see a commercial that says, “Life comes at you fast, but Nationwide is on your side.” Another slogan says, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” One commercial says, “GEICO…so simple a cave man can do it.”
However, the one I want to focus on today involves both a slogan and a logo. The logo involves a pair of hands cupped together. Inside those hands sit a house, a car and people, all of which are insured by an insurance company whose slogan says, “You’re in good hands with Allstate.” That insurance company has another way to sell its product. They employ the actor Dennis Haysbert, and they set him in the midst of some terrible accident scene. The implication is that what happened in that scene could happen to any one of us. Then comes the crucial question: “Are you in good hands?”
Listen once again to these two phrases: “You’re in good hands with Allstate” and “Are you in good hands?” and consider them in the context of the last words of Jesus from the cross of Calvary, as well as from the context of that first Easter Sunday morning. Just seconds before He died, Jesus cried out, “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
I want to make two points in response to these words from Jesus. The first point is that Jesus wanted to be sure He was in good hands. He did not commit His spirit into the hands of Pilate or Caiaphas or the Roman soldiers. Neither did Jesus commit His spirit to Peter, James, John or any of the disciples. Jesus wanted to be sure He was in good hands, so He committed His spirit into the hands of God.
The second point is that Jesus clearly understood death was not the end. He was not speaking some final farewell to life. He was not going through the graveside ritual so many of us have observed over the years and that I myself have probably performed a thousand times or more in these 35 years of ministry. We gather around the grave and say, “We commit this body to the grave; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.” That is not the kind of committing Jesus was doing.
Instead, He seemed to be committing His spirit to the life that He very well knew was waiting for Him just on the other side of death. He had already given a glimpse of that reality when He said to one of the men being crucified beside Him: “Today you will be with me in paradise.”
While Jesus may well have died without a life insurance policy, He was reminding us of something far more important-before you and I die we need to be sure we have a life assurance policy.
I know I said earlier that one of the most important decisions a person can make is to be sure he has a good life insurance policy. However, the most important decision a person can make is to be certain he has a good life assurance policy. As a matter of fact, it would be a grave mistake for a person to spend great care selecting the right life insurance policy and give no thought at all to having a life assurance policy. Life insurance can be a blessing to others after you are dead, but life assurance is a blessing to you and me that mere insurance cannot provide.
When Jesus committed His spirit into the hands of God, He knew there was something waiting for Him after death that God had already promised and provided. Jesus knew that death is not the end for those who put their faith in God. Jesus understood that His physical body was in the hands of men who had come to Calvary that day in order to kill Him by the cruel act of crucifixion. However, Jesus also understood that death would not be the end of the story. Jesus understood that three days later the hand of God would roll away the stone set there by a Roman guard, reach into His tomb and bring Him back to life-and, in so doing, shatter the power of death for everyone who puts his faith in Christ.
Let me explain the difference between life insurance and life assurance. First of all, with life insurance you pay the premiums all of your life, but nothing happens until you die. After you die somebody else is the beneficiary of the investment you have made over the years. More importantly, you can be denied life insurance if you happen to have any pre-existing conditions that might cause an insurance company to view you as too high of a risk. However, with life assurance Somebody else has already paid the premiums in full. The songwriter said, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow.”
Second, as the song I just quoted suggests, you and I can receive a life assurance policy even if we have the pre-existing condition-and all of us do have a pre-existing condition. All of us have the pre-existing condition of sin. Psalms 51:5 reminds us, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
State Farm or Allstate might turn me down because of some pre-existing condition; but when it comes to God’s life assurance policy, there is no danger of being turned down due to the pre-existing condition of sin. God knows my faults, but He will insure me. God knows my weaknesses, but He will insure me. God knows all the sins of my past and all the evil that rolls around in my mind in the present, but God will issue me a life assurance policy despite my pre-existing condition.
I love the assurance of Romans 5:8 that says, “While we were still sinning Christ died for the ungodly.” I love the assurance of the hymn that says, “He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.” This is the true meaning of grace: that the sins of our past do not prevent us from receiving the blessings God has in store for us.
I love the words of the hymn “Amazing Grace,” and I love the story of the man who wrote those words, a man named John Newton. This man had been involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, capturing and/or buying people in various locations in Africa and then selling them into slavery in various locations in North America, South America and the Caribbean. At some point he saw the evil of what he had been doing for all those years, and that led him to write those inspired and inspiring words:
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found, twas blind but now I see.”
This is the work of grace: that people who have sinned in terrible and grievous ways can still receive forgiveness and the assurance of a second chance with God.
I do not know who spoke these words, but I agree with the sentiment of the man who said that he had a dream in which he imagined himself in heaven, and three things surprised him. First, he was surprised at who was there. Second, he was surprised at who was not there. Third, knowing himself as well as he did, he was surprised that he was there. If I close my eyes in death and open my eyes to behold the beauties of heaven and to see the face of Jesus, it will not be because of my merit; it will be because of the terms of my life assurance policy that does not hold against me my pre-existing condition of sin.
Next, while my life insurance policy names somebody else as the beneficiary, it is my name that appears as the sole beneficiary of my life assurance policy. That is the promise of the resurrection as found in
1 Corinthians 15: “Now has Christ been raised from the dead and become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20,1 Corinthians 15:22). That is what happened to Jesus Himself; on a Friday afternoon He was committing His spirit into the hands of God, and early on a Sunday morning God raised Him from the dead.
If Jesus had owned a life insurance policy, then His mother, Mary, or someone else in His family would have been the beneficiary following His death. However, because Jesus had a life assurance policy, He was the beneficiary of that policy. His enemies who conspired to have Him nailed to that cross enjoyed no final victory. Death could not hold Him. The grave could not keep Him. Here is the central message of the New Testament and the central theme of our own faith story.
Jesus Christ is not Savior and Lord simply because He died on Calvary. Paul says that everything hinges on the resurrection. If Christ was not raised from the dead, then our faith is in vain, our preaching is in vain and we are still in our sins. However, this is what Paul goes on to say: “Now has Christ been raised from the dead!” John 14:19 takes this one step further when Christ declares in that verse, “And because I live you shall live also.”
That is what awaits every one of us who puts our faith in Christ. We will enjoy life with God beyond death and the grave because we have a life assurance policy that goes into effect the moment we put our faith in the power of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. We put our lives into good hands; and those hands will hold us, help us and heal us all the way through life. More importantly, those hands will also raise us from the dead on the other side of the grave. Are you in good hands?
Do you have a life assurance policy? Your premiums have already been paid in full by the blood of Christ that was shed on Calvary. Your pre-existing condition of sin and rebellion against the will and ways of God will not be held against you. When you take out this policy, you are not endowing somebody else who will be the beneficiary following your death. With this life assurance policy, you become the sole beneficiary of all benefits that accrue both in this life and into the life beyond death. This is far better than anything any normal life insurance company can offer. What Jesus was saying on the cross, and what Jesus experienced when He was raised from the dead, is that we are in good hands with God.
Let me remind you, however, that you do not have to die in order to enjoy the benefits of this life assurance policy. God’s coverage is as good in this world as it will be in the next.
I learned that one night when I was driving up to Detroit, Mich., about 10 years ago to teach at the Ashland Theological Seminary center in that city. I was traveling along I-75 North on a Friday evening at 5:00 when I noticed the towers of a nuclear power plant with its fumes spewing into the air. I was captivated by that sight. I had never been that close to a nuclear power plant, and I wondered whether anything coming out of those two towers was hazardous to those who were breathing that air-including me.
I must have kept my eyes off the road too long because before I knew anything, my car had swerved into the concrete divider that separated north- and south-bound traffic. I tried to control the car, but it bounced off that divider and swerved back into traffic with 18-wheelers coming right at me. I skidded across three lanes of traffic on a major highway at rush hour in a car that was out of control. I then ended up smashing my car into a steel guard rail that kept me from going down an embankment that ran alongside the highway.
If my car had not hit at that precise spot I would have gone off the highway, down a hill, and probably rolled over and been killed. As it was, I traveled across all of that rush-hour traffic without hitting anything and without being hit myself. My eyeglass frame was broken by the force of the air bag that deployed when I smashed into the steel guard rail. Other than that, I suffered no injuries, no cuts and no bruises of any kind.
Now let me talk to you about insurance and assurance. My car was badly damaged and had to be towed back to Cleveland for repairs, and I had insurance to cover that expense. But it was not my insurance that kept me from being killed on that highway. It was not my insurance that made sure I ran into that steel guard rail. It was not my insurance that dispatched angels to I-75 that kept me and others from harm and even from death. No, what happened on that highway was one of the benefits of my life assurance policy.
I believe there is a clause in my life assurance policy that says, “The Lord will make a way somehow.” I believe there is a section in my life assurance policy that says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me.” My insurance policy took care of my car, but it was my life assurance policy that took care of me.
I have car insurance, house insurance, regular health insurance, long-term health insurance and life insurance. However, I understand-and I hope you understand, as well-that life insurance alone is never enough. There is going to come a day, both in this life and at its very end, when you will need to be covered by a life assurance policy. You cannot buy this policy from Allstate, State Farm, Nationwide or GEICO.
There is only One agent who can provide you with a life assurance policy. Do you know of whom I am speaking? Maybe you know this song that speaks about Him when it says:
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
O what a foretaste of glory divine.
Heir of salvation, purchased of God;
Born of his spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song;
Praising my savior all the day long.
I have a great life assurance policy. How about you?

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About The Author

Marvin A. McMickle is the president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. A pastor for more than 30 years, he has also taught preaching at New York, New Brunswick and Princeton Theological Seminaries. From 1987-2011 he was Senior Pastor of Antioch Baptist Church of Cleveland, Ohio. He was the Professor of Homiletics at Ashland Theological Seminary from 1996-2011. Upon leaving Ashland he was voted by his faculty colleagues to be Professor Emeritus. He is a member of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. He was elected to be the 12th President of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in 2011.

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