Easter. Year after year, we celebrate Easter in spring. For us, it is not about the Easter Bunny or merely a spring festival. It’s about the greatest event in human history, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What at times seemed like defeat ended in triumphant victory. Majestically, Jesus says, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:18).
For Jesus’ disciples and also for the early church, the resurrection played a major role. When reading the book of Acts, one repeatedly comes across the reference, “Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly” (Acts 2:24; 3:15; 10:40). Peter confirms the appearance in his sermon by saying, “of which we are witnesses;” i.e., the resurrection is not a fairy tale but a fact confirmed by eyewitness accounts.
Referring to Himself, Jesus once said to His followers, “Because I live, you will live also” (John 14:19). Before that, He spoke of the heavenly mansions (verse 2) and also mentioned His upcoming departure from them. He also did not fail to shed light on their future, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (verse 3). We don’t know how well the disciples may have understood His train of thought. But one thing was definite: they had a future. Jesus had made it clear to them that death was not the end of everything. And to remove all possible doubts, Jesus added, “… I live, and you also shall live” (verse 19).
At all times, people have thought about death and what happens afterwards. There are probably more questions than answers on this subject. As seniors, no age group is closer to death than we are. It is indeed as it is often said, “Young people can die; old people must die.” And so it is. The mortality rate is 100%; that is, out of 8 billion people, 8 billion will die. The Bible confirms this by asserting that “it is appointed for men to die once” (Hebrews 9:27).
And then? We will not be there, but the task of planning our funeral, which will follow after a few days, will fall to the bereaved. Those attending will share memories, a few kind words will be spoken, and then the burial will follow at the cemetery. “Final destination” is often referenced. It sounds grim. The relatives and friends go home, and only a gravesite remains. Later, a gravestone is placed on which may read “Here lies in peace (and then our name follows).”
Although the Bible does not provide details, it does give us crucial information on the subject of dying. What it has to say are words of hope. It speaks neither of a “final destination” nor of an “over and done with.” In John 11:25-26, Jesus speaks, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” The mortal body is indeed carried to the grave, but the soul lives on without interruption. The body is merely our “earthly dwelling,” the “tent” in which we dwell on earth. Paul compares death to putting away the tent and likewise speaks of the soul living on.
You may be asking how all of this relates to the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a fair question. If we look up 1 Corinthians 6:14, we read, “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.” This is a direct confirmation of what Jesus said: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).
The resurrection of the dead is one of the main points of Bible doctrine. When faced with the question of how it will happen, we can only speculate. Details are withheld from us, but Scripture is clear that it will be quite awesome. The new body, the resurrection body that we will receive will be far better than our current body, which is predisposed to decay. It will have neither infirmities nor disabilities, nor will it be subject to aging. This is hard to imagine. Paul sums it up and describes it this way in Philippians 3:20 and 21: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able to even subdue all things to Himself.”
Those alive at the time of His return will simply be transformed without having to die. Paul encourages believers, noting that those who have died in Christ will be resurrected first, and “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
Christians look forward to a great future. It is this hope that makes us say over and over, “The best is yet to come,” or even “to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Dying is the door to unimaginable glory.
There is one more thought I would like to highlight. Although all who have died will be resurrected, the same fate does not await everyone. How life was lived will determine a person’s participation either in the “resurrection of life” or in the “resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29). As long as the heart is beating, man is permitted to choose between these two possibilities. After that – case closed. Are you ready to die?