Monday, December 5 2022 - 6:51 AM

Sharing Scripture — November 12, 2022

Christ’s Victory Over Death

 

For use: November 6 – 12, 2022
Texts: Matthew 27:51-53, 62-66; John 10:17-18, 20:11-29; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8

 

If you were ever declared clinically dead and then resuscitated, what do you remember going through while being pronounced dead? A Reddit user recently posed that question to the Reddit community, and the resulting answers are described as “fascinating, eerie and eye-opening.”

One respondent recalled, “(I) saw this white light and could see myself ‘floating upwards.’ Saw my family and the doctors and nurses who were working on me. Came back and was in intense pain.”

Another reported, “My dad died briefly and said that he went down a long hallway to a door. When he was going to open it, he felt himself being sucked back into his own body.”

“As my family was saying goodbye to me,” recalls yet another respondent, “I remember seeing three shadow people at the foot of the hospital bed. Thinking it was family, I asked ‘Who are they?’ My mother told me they were angels, but I perceived them as my dead relatives there to bring me to the other side. The nurses then put me under anesthesia so the doctors could hopefully get my brain to stop bleeding. They were successful and I’m still here!”

And finally, “They told me I was dead for three minutes. I remember those clips of people saying they experienced some kind of near-afterlife, but for me it was like sleeping. I woke up, they told me how I almost died, I said, ‘Oh yeah?’ They explained a bunch of stuff and then offered me a grilled cheese…I had Doritos too. 10/10 would die again, it’s just nothingness, not scary at all.”

Though the responses to the question reflect several different types of felt experiences, none of which we can truly verify, there is one thing they all have in common: just like Lazarus, they will all die again someday.

There are two people we can name who have experienced death and now enjoy eternal life—Jesus and Moses. It’s possible that those saints who arose when Jesus died (Matthew 27:50-53) now also enjoy eternal life after death, but even that number is limited, and as far as our knowledge goes, cannot yet be proven. The rest of us who look toward the promise of eternity now rely on Christ’s victory over death for that future fulfillment.

In the interim, we cannot say with absolute certainty that the human soul experiences consciousness after biological death; we believe that the dead know and experience nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5). Even those who died in faith before the death and resurrection of Jesus, and were never resurrected to walk the earth, are at rest.

Interestingly, Jude 9 describes a dispute between Michael and Satan over Moses’ body (as Jesus hadn’t yet risen from the tomb and subdued death), but there will be no dispute when we rise again. There is no question that Jesus conquered death, and we can claim that victory as our own. Faith in Christ’s life, death and resurrection opens the way for us to experience our own resurrection to eternal life at the Second Coming.

Until then, as one Reddit user said, “It’s just nothingness, not scary at all.”

 

For Reflection

 

Connecting: Have you ever imagined what the sensation of dying will be like? Is the thought of it frightening to you? If so, what do you think is at the root of your worry?

Sharing: Jesus told Thomas in John 20:29 that those of us who haven’t seen the risen Jesus with our own eyes, and yet believe in the reality of the resurrection, are blessed. How has this faith blessed you in practical ways?

  1. It reminds me that God is working in my life, even when life gets discouraging
  2. I have a head knowledge of the resurrection, but I struggle to maintain a faith experience in my heart
  3. I have a joy that others want to experience for themselves
  4. I know without a doubt that I’ll see my deceased loved ones again
  5. I no longer fear death
  6. Other:

Applying: We live in a skeptical society. Miracles are often explained away through natural science or dismissed as impossible and disbelieved altogether. What reasons do you hear from your acquaintances for rejecting supernatural events? Think of ways that you can comfortably share your hope of eternity when you hear those rationales.

Valuing: Do you ever find yourself slipping into doubts about your own assurance of salvation and eventual resurrection? Take time to reflect on ways you’ve seen God at work in your life. Start a journal of the miraculous events you’ve experienced in the past. Review it regularly, and share those testimonies whenever appropriate.

 

~Chuck Burkeen

 

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