Today is my most favorite day of the year. It has nothing to do with the Easter Bunny but with the hope from a risen savior.
I think most of us have experienced the death of a loved one. This is a painful thing to experience and we feel that sting that death has caused. Today gives us hope because the resurrection of Jesus Christ takes away the sting and the power of the grave. Because He lives, we will live. I will admit that I have gotten a little bogged down about what happens when we die. I am still not sure whether we stay in the grave under the resurrection or if we immediately go to be with Jesus when we die but it doesn’t change my hope.
The most encouraging scripture is when Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25)
Years ago when I was in Jerusalem waiting in a long line to walk inside of what was believed to be the Garden Tomb, the guide made the comment: “Everyone is waiting in line to see an empty tomb.” He was right. Those of us who have been taught about Jesus all these years finally got to see for ourselves that the tomb was indeed empty. The empty tomb reinforced our hope in the power of Jesus’ resurrection and the promise He made to believers.
The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in history and irrefutable evidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be – the Son of God. Sure, there are doubters and haters about this but it still doesn’t take away our hope which energizes believers on what today means to us all.
I can’t offer you scientific proof of the resurrection and I don’t expect to convince you with this post. I can only tell you of my hope. Everyone believes what they believe. I tell you as it says in the old hymn: “You ask me how I know He lives. He lives within my heart.”
Ask anyone their opinion about life after death and you’re going to get a variety of answers to this question that has puzzled mankind since the beginning of time.
What happens when you die? Is that the end?
Here are some theories about life after death:
According to some, life starts over immediately after death. This belief is an explanation of feelings of deja vu we experience throughout our lifetime.
We move into a paranormal realm where we become ghosts or other spirits
Hindus believe in reincarnation and that we will be reincarnated 52 million times as a plant, animal, etc. before returning to human form.
One of six destinies awaits Buddhists when they die. They may be reincarnated as gods, demi-gods, humans, animals, ghosts or sent to the realms of hells. If you were a good person, chances are you will be reborn in one of the first three categories.
Some believe that when you are dead, you’re dead. Period.
According to the movie Beetlejuice, when we die, we continue to live in the form of ghosts stuck in a parallel dimension from which only an iconoclast exorcist can free us.
Plato had a theory that after death our souls were judged. Good souls were placed on islands of the blessed and bad souls were punished.
For the pharaohs of ancient Egypt, death was temporary. This is why it was so important to them to properly preserve bodies by mummification so they could be in their best possible state for their second life.
If you believe the Stranger Things theory, the deceased aren’t truly dead. Some of them simply go to “The Upside Down” which is a parallel universe from which you can communicate through light bulbs.
For about $300,000 your body can be preserved at an extremely low temperature to stop your cells from evolving until medicine finds a cure for your death and brings you back to life.
Quantum physicists believe that life creates the universe and not the opposite so when bodies die our consciousness continues to exist.
The egocentric theory is you are the only person who exists and the entire universe is your own imagination so when you die, the universe will no longer exist.
There are some wild theories out there.
I have read and heard opinions out there so allow me to add my own here. I mean this is MY blog and I am free to express my own opinions about this. If you don’t agree, that’s okay. Don’t be mean about it. You are entitled to your opinion too.
I have had years of Bible teaching throughout my life. No, I do not hold a degree in theology but I am capable of making up my own mind and attempt to sort this out myself. So, with that disclaimer, let’s take a look at my own view of death.
I have concluded that my own personal belief about death is based upon one of the most popular Bible verses. John 3:16.
“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.”
If a person believes in Jesus Christ this verse guarantees us eternal life. It isn’t a requirement that you have to be Baptist, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist or any other named religion. As shocking as it may be to some, there isn’t a “Baptist Heaven” or a “Catholic Heaven” or “Church of God Heaven”. This is a place is simply a place that Jesus has prepared for believers.
It is my belief that when we die, our soul separates from our physical bodies. A believer goes immediately to be with Jesus in paradise. That’s what Jesus told one of the thieves on the cross next to him when he said “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Paradise is a temporary heaven because, according to the Book of Revelation (which I am not even going to try to explain) tells us that there will be a new Heaven and a new Earth. There’s a lot of other things that is supposed to happen but I’m just narrowing this to what happens when we die.
When our soul separates from our physical bodies, we go to paradise. Before we can fully enjoy paradise, we must spend time in an “in-between place” which Catholics refer to as purgatory. It doesn’t matter how good of a person we are or how righteous we are, none of us are perfect and we all have issues that must be resolved before we can move on. This in-between place allows us to resolve these issues. For the religious folks out there, I’m not saying that sin is okay but we all have things that are imperfect about us. In order to enter into a perfect place, these things have to be cleansed. I think of it as TSA to get into paradise. So if we have any unresolved issues we will be forced to deal with them at that time. All who die in God’s grace are assured of their eternal salvation but still must undergo a purification. I’m not really sure what goes on in the in-between place but I envision it as a video replay of things we need to resolve. It could be a time of deep soul searching and confession. How long we spend in the in-between place depends upon how long it takes us to resolve these issues.
Once we have passed through the in-between place, we then enter into the main population of paradise where we will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before us. I think this paradise is a place that is beyond any beauty that we have seen on Earth or could even imagine with our minds. We will also have no concept of time. There really won’t be any need for it. Most people think of heaven as a place where people are floating on clouds playing harps. Now that would be pretty boring don’t you think? Some have said that we will have jobs or hobbies that we will enjoy doing. I believe we will do things that we enjoy as well as being in the presence of the Lord. I don’t think any of us can truly comprehend it.
So will we have bodies or floating around as spirit beings?
I have pondered on this a lot and I have mixed thinking about it. Since the Bible talks about us being reunited with our physical bodies and resurrected when the Lord returns to the Earth, I’m thinking that when we die that it will be our souls in paradise and not some physical recreation of our bodies. Our souls will recognize our loved ones but not necessarily the physical attributes that we remember such as the last time we saw them. I also have no idea what a “soul” could possibly look like. I don’t think it will be a like a ghostly existence but possibly some form. Like I told you earlier, some of this stuff is a little hard to explain. I’m not saying I’m right but no one really knows for sure. Even the Bible can be a bit difficult to translate into something we can understand.
The other question I have had was if our loved ones can see what we are doing here on Earth. Can they watch us? How can they see what we are doing?
Most people think that when we die we become angels but that is false. Angels are separate created beings. None of us get wings or become angels who watch over those back on Earth. I believe that God allows them to see what He wants them to see. I don’t think they are looking down on us 24/7 because that would be a little creepy wouldn’t it? I honestly don’t think they have time for that anyway. I have a feeling that they do get updates on us. Maybe it’s something like heavenly mail or newsflash about us. I also think they are praying for us. Maybe they have knowledge of what we are praying and what we are going through. I really can’t give a definitive opinion on this.
So what about hell? Do people go there? Is there such a place?
I would have to think that people who are completely void of a conscious will go to a place of torment much like the rich man in the story of Lazarus. Luke 16 says that in Hades he was in torment. While this passage is a parable and not an actual experience, I think it gives a clear message on what happens to evil people.
This is all my own personal opinion. I have no proof for or against what I have posted here. We all have to make up our own minds. I’m certainly not going to convince you. We all have to figure it out for ourselves. We are all shaped in our opinions based on something. While mine is based mostly on Christian beliefs, others might base theirs on science or other spiritualist reasoning.
Whether you believe my version of life after death or not I urge you to think about it. We’re all going to die sometime. Figure it out for yourself. Do some soul searching and ask yourself why you believe the way you believe? For me, my opinion hinges upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He said: “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.” (John 11:25-26). I don’t think that’s too far-fetched compared to these other theories do you? Sure, I might be wrong on certain details but I do not believe that death is the end. Easter is one of my favorite times of the year where I experience the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It encourages me and gives me hope of eternal life.
This is my belief and I won’t apologize for it. In the end, whatever happens will happen and I have absolutely no control over it. Maybe that’s why we fear death. We fear the unknown and we try to explain it with all of these beliefs.
Easter Sunday was always my favorite day to attend church. It was a tradition for me which started at an early age. When I was a child it was about wearing new clothes to church and the Easter Egg Hunt after church. As I grew older, I learned to appreciate the positive message of the resurrection. It has always been exciting to hear about that morning when Jesus walked out of His tomb. Good Friday became an even better Sunday.
During a period of my life, I was a church youth leader and my favorite activity was to direct the Easter program at church. I was always one who was a bit eccentric and liked to do things different. Each year when I planned the Easter program, I would pick a powerful Easter song and have our young people to play roles in acting out the song. These programs were a lot of work but they were always very fulfilling when they were performed. I always had a wonderful group to help me. We had fun but they were all also very committed to what we were doing.
My early productions were rather basic but I found ways to improve each year. The year I discovered the effects of dry ice was an awesome discovery as I learned how to create fog or smoke effects, especially when the stone was rolled away from the tomb. Another year I managed to save tubes of fake blood from Halloween to use them for the productions. The blood was so lifelike that one elderly lady didn’t like it and left. I’m not sure what she was expecting from us acting out a song called “This Blood Is For You”.
Since I would always use modern contemporary Christian songs, there were always the traditional people who would express their dislike for our “worldly” music. In other words, we weren’t acting out songs from the church hymnal. That’s okay because everyone’s tastes are different, I just liked using songs that were effective to stir the emotions of people and understand the importance of this day.
It was exciting to bring life to some awesome Easter songs. When I refer to Easter songs I am referring to songs about the resurrection.
Here is a list of some of my favorites along with a link to a performance of that song:
“Because He Lives” by Bill and Gloria Gaither (Listen)
“I’ve Just Seen Jesus” by Sandy Patti and Larnelle Harris (Listen)
It’s very difficult for me to pick a favorite from the list above. I can only say that they all have their own ways of bringing out hope and maybe cause a few goose bumps to appear when you listen to them. I think the first one that I remember which really stuck with me was the first time I heard the song “He’s Alive”. My first time hearing this song was not the Don Francisco version but one sung by a man that has meant a lot to me. He was my first counselor in Youth Camp many, many years ago. He is an awesome banjo player and he performed a memorable version of this song. I have never forgotten it.
So if you are looking for an awesome Easter song today, I highly recommend any of those on the list above.
Although not an Easter song, the final scene from the movie “Passion of the Christ” is perhaps the best movie scene which depicts the resurrection. I think it’s pretty powerful. You can view the scene below: