Jesus and Life After Death
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
I share this story from the Gospel of Luke because it is one that is not often read in relation to Resurrection and we need to rehearse these stories!
This morning, I want to speak about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and what His Resurrection means to all of Creation and to those who follow Him. Jesus is the first to be resurrected from the dead.
He is the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
We will share in His Resurrection and His experience informs what our experience will be.
What can we learn about the impact of Jesus’ Resurrection for all of us?
Resurrection is about life! But more specifically, it is life after death!
- Resurrection Resolves Spiritual Death
- Death is separation from God
Jesus’ Resurrection demonstrates the reconciliation of those who were separated from God because of sin. We are brought back to the life of God. This means that we can have confidence in our relationship to God.
- Metaphors of separation:
Adam and Eve are removed from the Garden of Eden, Angels preventing reentry, more specifically separation from the Tree of Life.
The Holy of Holies in the Temple is off limits. The Holy Place is off limits. The Veil is real. The tree of life is in the Holy of Holies. If you go in in an unworthy manner, you are killed.
In the Book of Revelation:
Chapter 22: 1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
- Realities of separation:
We cannot see God. Harder to communicate back and forth.
Faith is necessary. Without it we cannot please God. We must live by faith in our relationship with Him, believing that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
We do not have complete understanding of very many things.
Seeing God? I John 3: 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
Revelation 21: Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
Not only does Resurrection resolve spiritual separation from God, the Resurrection of Jesus leads us on a pathway of life that puts an end to meaningless suffering.
- End of meaningless suffering
Suffering is a fact of life. Avoiding suffering is a basic motivation. The necessity of embracing suffering in order to gain discipline is an inconvenient truth.
I’m not going to belabor this point that Jesus establishes meaning for all of our suffering when we see our lives from His eternal perspective. We just preached through Romans 8 and we saw this as a major theme of the chapter, how in Christ all things in our lives will work together for good. The sovereign proof of this is that our lives end in Resurrection.
II Cor 4: 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (This is Paul’s experience!) 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
For people who do not know Christ, their lives end in judgement and the second death. They are resurrected to judgement and then they are separated again from God. This is the second death.
- We have hope that works!
Ephesians 1: 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
We are all headed to either dying too young, or else dying in decline as orphans and either widows or widowers. Suicide can seem like a reasonable alternative.
Not worthy to be compared. Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
But this is not the end. Not even close! As followers of Jesus we have His very real hope. And his is because…
- Resurrection Resolves Physical Death
I Cor 15: 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.
- We get new bodies
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 dishonor, 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.
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
- Death is forever defeated
I Cor 15: 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[h]
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[i]
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.
Right now, today, you have no reason to fear death! Death is not the end. I think back to Dr. Inch talking about death from this very space. And now he has died physically, but that is not the end. Describe life after life after death.
I Cor 15:
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”
“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”, which is better by far (than going on with useful life now)
“I go to prepare a place for you and will come again to take you to be with me.”
- Everlasting Life
44 times in the NT this phrase is used. 23 of the 44 times it is used by the Apostle John
Everlasting means that it lasts forever! All life all the time!
John 3:14-16 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
This is why John gives us such a clear picture in Revelation 21-22 of what that life is like!
III. Resurrection Remakes All of Creation
- A new heaven and earth Revelation 21 and 22
New heaven and earth
New Garden of Eden
They are all the same thing!
- The curse of sin completely ended
Tree of life is there
God’s presence is there
No more sorrow or tears
No more suffering or pain
“The former things have passed away. Behold I make all things new.”
This is our hope. This is our home!
- Nothing but life and love
True justice. True mercy. Pure truth. Pure knowledge of God. Pure love in response to all of this real experience.
And a changed heart to that finds itself content in the fullness of God’s presence and majesty.
See the pictures of God in the Book of Revelation. Praise and honor reflected because of the knowledge of God Himself and what He has done. We praise His character. We thank Him for His works. We will not come to the end of this.
And I am convinced that we will work ourselves. We express ourselves in creative ways. And there is no loss of energy, material, time, etc. There is only the continuing experience of the person of God.
I Cor 2: 9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.