Life and death are mysteries that many questions: How does life begin? What meaning does our life have? What happens when we die? The answers are found in the death and resurrection of Jesus from the dead in which God reveals his inﬁnite power over and intention for all human life. By accepting our humanity as Jesus, God not only showed His desire to be close to us but taught and showed by example what is humanly possible for all who choose to live a close relationship with God. In Christ we can even hope to share in His resurrection from the dead and in eternal life with Him in Heaven. In Jesus our lives have infinite meaning.
Every human life is part of God’s divine plan. Jesus’ birth was also part of that Divine Plan. Though Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, He like every other human being longed to preserve his life and to avoid suffering and death. But He desired even more to do the will of His Father in Heaven. It was part of God’s plan that Jesus should sacrifice his spotless life for our sinful lives. In the Garden of Gethsemane, before his passion and death, Jesus prayed: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt 26:39”)
Always Jesus entrusted his human life into the hands of his Heavenly Father: “Not my will be done, but Thy will be done”, and “Into Your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) As Jesus died a physical death on the cross, all the hopes of his disciples for a future lead by Jesus seemed to come to an end. God’s plan became obscured, they became afraid and they went into hiding. But when Jesus rose from the dead and appeared in person to hundreds of his disciples, his resurrection gave new meaning and understanding to every human life. Life need not end with physical death. The risen, gloriﬁed body of Jesus also revealed that the resurrection we hope for will not just be a continuation of life as it is now but, like Jesus’ body, our bodies will be changed and glorified. In Jesus, life and death are clearly seen to be in God’s power to control. Jesus, by his own resurrection from the dead, showed that he had both the authority and the power to promise resurrection to all who would accept and follow him.
For 40 days the risen Jesus appeared to hundreds of his disciples to assure them that he was truly alive and would continue to live among them. Personally seeing the risen Jesus transformed their lives as well. Disciples who had been fearful and in hiding became disciples willing to speak out openly of the risen Jesus they had seen. Many accepted martyrdom without fear of death as they proclaimed by the shedding of their blood their faith in Jesus’ resurrection and in Jesus’ promise that when He ascended into Heaven he would prepare places in heaven for his disciples.
Images of Heaven found in the Bible envision Heaven as being much different from the world in which we live now. It is seen less as a place with physical dimensions, with such things as big gates and gold streets, and more like an enhanced experience of being fully in the presence of God. In Heaven all holy creatures are seen united in praising God as they experience being in God’s presence. God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him. In Heaven, God who first gave us life and brought us into existence shares His divine life with us forever. In Heaven, we will never face death again.
Jesus also taught that in Heaven there will no longer be marriage (Matt 22:30). Since there will no longer be death, marriage will no longer be necessary to preserve human life. Jesus’ victory over death removed the fear of death that once existed. In Heaven God will be eternally visible to all present: angels, Apostles, martyrs, and all holy followers of Christ from all nations. The love of God will be experienced by all in Heaven and in return all will express their love for God. We know now that at death life is not ended but changed and those who accept to follow Christ will live forever in the presence of God. Only those who reject Christ, who died to save them, will be denied Heaven.
May the Risen Lord always be our hope and our guide.