The world craves life and youth. If you don’t believe me, just watch TV for an hour, and you’ll see the emphasis, not only in the programming, but also in the commercials—especially in the commercials—companies advertising their anti-aging wrinkle cream, hair color to hide the gray, and fitness programs to keep our bodies in shape. And once we’ve got ourselves looking beautiful, why not flaunt that beauty with an extravagant vacation at a luxurious hotel. Spend the grandchildren’s inheritance. They won’t mind.
But is having the appearance of youth the same as possessing youth? Is leisurely living truly living at all? None of the things I mentioned are wrong in and of themselves, but they are empty and pointless without Christ. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). He did not promise ease, wealth, popularity, or lasting beauty, but He did promise life—abundant life. Let’s take a closer look at Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life.
Jesus said unto her, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?John 11:25-26
Have you ever been by the bedside of one who entered into eternity? I have. More than once. Both times their passing was peaceful, and yet their bodies labored, struggling to take just one more breath, then another, and another. Gradually the breathing diminished, the heartbeat weakened and slowed, and the soul departed.
Do you ever wonder why our bodies struggle so much with death, even when our souls are so excited to go to heaven? I believe it’s because they were not designed with death in mind. We were designed to live. Death is not natural; it came as a part of the curse of sin. But death can only touch the physical body; it has no power over the soul.
The Second Death
Well, I should qualify that. There is a second death. For those who reject Jesus, the resurrection and the Life, the only other option is eternal death.
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead who were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.Revelation 20:10-15
Hell is not a curse word, it’s not a thing you wish upon your worst enemy, it’s not a frat house, and it is not a place from which you may escape. It is a real place of torment, a place of agony, of regrets and memories, of pain and sorrow, of longing and eternal separation. The only way of escape is to not go there in the first place. And the only way to avoid hell is to accept the life offered to you in Jesus Christ.
I AM the Resurrection
Jesus was at the funeral of His dear friend Lazarus. The grieving sister Martha went and met Him because she wanted to know why Jesus had not come sooner, for He surely could have healed Lazarus and restored him to health and life. Jesus had delayed His coming to teach them a greater lesson: that He had power not only over disease, but also over death. It was time for them to look beyond the grave. Martha believed there would be a resurrection sometime in the future, but that was no comfort to her at the present moment. Then Jesus said to her, “I AM the resurrection.” He made it personal. He brought the future into the present, into the moment in which they were speaking. Without Jesus there is no resurrection.
I AM the Life
Then our Lord continued. “I AM the life.” Just as all resurrection depends solely upon Jesus, so does all life. Everything—every person, every creature, every plant, every organism in this universe that has life received it from the Lord Jesus Christ. This is natural life of which I speak. Jesus is responsible for all natural life, and He is also responsible for all spiritual life. He said to the Jews who rejected Him, “Search the Scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me. And you will not come to Me, that you might have life” (Jn. 5:39-40).
Yet Shall He Live
Let’s keep reading Jesus’ words to Martha. “He who believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” Jesus is referring to Lazarus. Martha is only thinking of Lazarus as dead. She saw him take his final breath. She and her sister Mary prepared his body for burial. They laid him in the tomb, and with the help of others sealed the door with a large stone. Now Jesus affirms that Lazarus shall live again. Martha acknowledges this in her mind, though she cannot quite comprehend that Lazarus is alive now, this very moment, for she equates the condition of his soul with the condition of his body. But Jesus is getting ready to correct her understanding.
Shall Never Die
Jesus continues. “And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Is this a contradiction of what Jesus just said? No way! This is the second life, eternal life. And eternal life knows no end. Our bodies will decay and die, but if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, then our souls will live forever. Doesn’t that just make you want to lift up your hands and praise the Lord!
There is just one other thing I wish to address on the subject of life and death, and that is the matter of how we live, especially we who know the Lord as our Savior. Are we living as lights in a dark world, letting Jesus be seen in us? Or are we living to please ourselves? At least twice in the Bible, believers are described as being dead while they live. That’s right—not the heathen, but those who know the Lord.
The apostle Paul, in his instruction to Timothy, writes the following regarding widows in the church:
Now she who is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusts in God, and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.1 Timothy 5:5-6
This is a widow in the church, so we are to assume that she has made a profession of faith in Christ. But Paul says that if she lives in pleasure rather than living for the Lord, then she is dead while she lives. Does this mean a widow may not go on outings with her friends? No. Does this mean she has to suffer deprivation? Absolutely not. Paul is warning against frivolity and pleasure to the excess. Moderation is the key to godly living. Our Lord is not a kill-joy. To the contrary, He wants us to be full of joy and rejoicing. Remember, Jesus came that we might have abundant life. But He didn’t come that we might spend all our time and resources pleasing ourselves.
In the book of Revelation, John writes,
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know your works, that you have a name that you live, and are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found your works perfect before God.Revelation 3:1-2
This church claimed to be alive, but Jesus said they were dead. Perhaps they were replete with activities, but these activities served only to entertain, not to bring souls to Jesus. Perhaps they were good at starting things, but not at finishing them (“I have not found your works perfect [complete] before God”). Or maybe they were allowing the world to creep in to their worship little by little, slowly robbing them of true life and joy and replacing it with an emotional high. One thing is sure, if they did not take drastic action, and soon, judgment was sure to come.
Life in the Psalms
There is nothing quite as comforting as the Psalms. Therefore, I wish to leave you with some verses from the Psalms regarding the abundant life that is ours in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thou wilt show me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore.Psalm 16:11
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.Psalm 23:6
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?Psalm 27:1
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.Psalm 27:4
For His anger endures but a moment; in His favor is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.Psalm 30:5
For with You is the fountain of life: in Your light shall we see light.Psalm 36:9
Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.Psalm 42:8
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.Psalm 63:3
Image credited to nikkiboruch.com