Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces. Daniel 6:19-24 ESV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. John 11:25-26b ESV
Have you ever seen a lion tamer, perhaps at a circus? It can be fun to watch, although many people think that taming lions isn’t a kind or a fair thing to do. The methods of taming lions have changed over the years. Henri Martin was one of the first lion tamers. He introduced himself to the lions very slowly and gradually, gently earning their trust a little at a time until they would perform for him. Later a lion tamer named Isaac Van Amburgh used a very different method. He would use whips and chairs and and guns to control the lions by fear and violence. Today’s lion tamers are more gentle again, and they use a lot of rewards, and most importantly build trust with the lions so that they will perform. They usually work with the lions from the time they are cubs so that the lions know and trust them.
Daniel wasn’t a lion tamer, and the lions he was thrown to were hungry and dangerous and wild. When he was thrown into the pit with the lions and a stone was rolled in front of the opening and sealed with government seals, it should have been his death. There was no way he could have come out of that situation alive without a miracle from God, and that’s exactly what happened. God sent an angel to stay in the den all night with Daniel, and the angel kept the lions tamed and stopped them from hurting him in any way. There wasn’t a single scratch on his body when the happy king brought Daniel out of the den the next day! We don’t like to think of what happened next. Justice for the officials who started all the trouble and their families was swift and very cruel. But from this we can be sure that these were hungry and wild lions, and that what had happened to Daniel was definitely a miracle.
After Jesus died on the cross, his dead body was put into a grave, a huge stone was rolled over the opening of the grave, and it was sealed with a government seal. There was no way a person could come out of that grave without a miracle from God. But that’s exactly what happened. Jesus walked out of the grave, alive forever, the first Easter Sunday, and an angel rolled the stone away from his grave so that his followers could look in and see that it was empty. He had battled with death, and he had won. Jesus tamed death as if it were a wild, dangerous lion, and because of that, we don’t have to be afraid of death. When we are put into our graves someday, Jesus will be there with us, and he will bring us out alive again on the last day. We know that we will live with him forever in his heavenly kingdom.
Dear Jesus, thank you for taming death for us, and for giving us the promise of life forever with you. Amen.