My grandson is five years old and quite spontaneously one day, clearly upset, said to his parents that he didn’t want them to die. We still wonder where he picked up that concern since there hadn’t been any discussion about that.
Others have experienced that same existential angst about death when they receive a medical prognosis that projects life is expected to be terminal in the short term. As a pastor I have also been called to the hospital or to the home of a terminally sick patient to talk about death and what can be expected after death. Is there any hope that death is not the end? Some who are sceptical conclude from observations of the physical that death is the final judgement on man.
They view the human body as a machine which wears out and then returns to dust. They try not to think about whether or not such an existence matters and if such a life has any meaning or if there is any real hope beyond death. Christians of course believe that there is authentic hope for something more. For them it is not mere wishful thinking but a promise of the creator who rescues believers from death and provides a new home in a new dimension. What makes them believe this? Jesus the Messiah and saviour has led the way. He is the son of God who came to Earth, walked among us, did miracles, and himself died and rose again and ascended into heaven. He promised that after death we would be empowered to transition over to a new heaven and a new earth. Paul the apostle explains how this happens in 1 Corinthians 15:35-57:
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendour of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendour, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendour.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Without resurrection and eternal life our present life is purposeless. Christians believe life matters and that there is a fuller life yet to come.
Christians live with a real hope and trust in a real saviour who is with them not only at life’s end but through all of this life guiding, and encouraging them. It is with confidence and joy that I can tell my grandson there is a reality yet to come of life beyond death and the truth I can tell the man dying in hospital that he has a heavenly father that has prepared a place for him beyond the transient life that we experience now on the earth. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and he gives us the victory over death!