Whilst death is the ultimate end for our mortal bodies, we are certain of being taken to a safe haven when we die – a place of rest and a place of refuge. Such assurance is given by our Lord Jesus Himself. When he revealed to His disciples that heaven has enough rooms to house all who believe in Him. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3) What a caring and loving God!
Jesus certainly had observed from the expression on their faces that there were still some unanswered questions bothering His disciples. They needed to be assured and comforted. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.” (John 14:1) Our Lord Jesus is concerned about our well-being and where we are going to spend eternity. Thus He took the trouble to go ahead of us to reserve a place of eternal rest for us. He did not stop at that, He promised to come back to fetch us – that we might be with him, and with God, the Father.
Why could He speak in such terms? The answer is found in the words that he uttered: “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) How is Jesus the life? Here is an illustration. His friend Lazarus had suddenly fallen ill at a time when Jesus had travelled out of Bethany. However word reached Him that Lazarus was very ill. The next message He received was that Lazarus had succumbed to his illness. One would have expected that as a friend of the family Jesus would have interrupted His mission to be at Lazarus’ bedside and to heal him. Lazarus’ sister Martha had made the comment when finally Jesus turned up four days after Lazarus had died and had been buried. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21)
It was an emergency but Jesus did not treat it as such. “This sickness will not end in death: No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” was the remark He made. (John 11:4) When He instructed that they should return to Judea, He had assured His disciples: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (John 11:11) Literally, Jesus was saying Lazarus has died but I am going there to bring him back to life. He decided to go to Bethany not before Lazarus died in order to heal him, but after Lazarus’ death in order to raise him from the dead, all for God’s glory.
To comfort Martha, He said to her: “Your brother will rise again.” (verse 23) Martha retorted. “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (verse 24) To settle it Jesus responded: “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)
This question is equally directed at us. Do we believe that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life? Do we believe that in Jesus we will die but we shall rise again and live? Like it was the case with Martha, if we are still doubting, this is what Jesus did to make it all clear. Jesus headed for the burial ground amidst a crowd waiting to see what He would do next. In three short instructions that followed each other Jesus commanded: “Take away the stone!” “Lazarus come out!” “Take off the grave clothes and let him go!” Jesus’ authority over death is unquestionable. He who created all things will have all things bow to Him, even death. “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1 3-4)
The fear of death in one of the main religions is such that people literally take to their heels after burials in order not to be the last one to leave the graveyard. The belief that death would catch you as its next victim is so strong; confirming that the fear of death is a dominant feature with its faithful.
What is your attitude to death and dying? Is it one of fear? Christians should weep and mourn but in the belief that because Jesus had taken the sting out of death it could no longer be like a bitter pill to swallow; we also have conquered death. Because the one in whom we believe was raised from the dead, our mortal bodies would also be raised.
After the resurrection of our Lord Jesus something strange happened, His body became transformed. His closest disciples could not recognise Him that easily. He appeared before them in the Upper Room -- where they had barricaded themselves out of fear -- without going through the door. Our bodies will be transformed also, though recognisable.
The rich man recognised from a distance Lazarus, the beggar whom he had ignored at his doorstep: Lazarus was in father Abraham’s bosom while he was being tormented in hell. (Luke 16:19-31) Jesus confirms that there will be nothing like marriage in heaven. “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30) All we would do in heaven is proclaim God’s glory. “… and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb: They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands: And they cried out in a loud voice: salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)
Any idea where you would spend eternity? One sure place should be in Jesus’ arms.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty:” (Revelation 1:8) Let Jesus be your beginning and your end. For in Him we live and move and have our being.