Life after death: Meditation for the third Sunday after Easter
The concept of life after death shows that death is rather a way to life than an end to it. This gives hope and at the same time calls for caution.
The belief in life after death, though with variations and contradicting conceptions, including reincarnation, is common among most theistic religions.
Even some generally nontheistic religions like Buddhism also tend to believe in life after death but without reference to God. It was the Sadducees that were distinctively known to believe in God but not in life after death.
However, the Christian concept of life after death is quite unique. It is based on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ by which death is destroyed and man is launched into new realm of life.
Believing in Jesus is the sure way to life after death. He who believes in Him will live, even though he dies. To believe in Jesus means to die with Him and embrace His life. Therefore, the present life of a Christian is actually life after death. It is a life unto righteousness after death to sin.
The Christian death and the new life that follows it are not only bodily, but also spiritual.
In fact, they begin from spiritual to bodily/physical. Right before the physical death and the life that follows it, the spiritual death and resurrection are required.
As Christ died for us and our sins, so, in His death, we die to sins and in His Resurrection, we live to righteousness.
Hence, in the prayer (Collect) for today, we petition God, “Whose Son Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life of all who put their trust in Him”, to “raise us from the death of sin to the life of righteousness”.
Other religions conceive of life after death only as “life hereafter”. But as Christians, though we also hope for another and eternal life in glorified bodies after physical deaths, we also conceive and experience the life after death in the “life here and now”. We have already died and are living a life after death, even while not yet physically dead.
The uniqueness of the Christian concept of life after death lies in the connection between the life after death here and now and the life after death hereafter. Both are based on and powered by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Also, one determines the other. It is the life here and now that determines the life hereafter. We need now to die with Christ and live for Him, if we must later translate to life after death. Any other life after death is actually death after death (Second Death). It is only in Christ and with God that there is life.
Reflections on the Bible Readings for Day
The OT passage (1Kgs 17:17-24) is the Bible’s first record of bringing the dead back to life.
One question that confronted both Elijah whom God used to raise the boy and the widow of Zarephath, the mother of the resuscitated boy was why God, Who promised life brought death instead. It is actually in answer to this question that the boy was brought back to life.
The Epistle (1Cor. 15:1-11) is essentially the assurance of the resurrection or life after death for believers.
The Gospel (Jn 11:17-27) is a record of the interaction between Martha and Jesus Christ at the death of Lazarus. Martha approached Him with a heavy heart over the loss of her brother.
As a Jewess, she believed in the certainty of the ultimate resurrection of the dead. But that did not assuage her immediate grief. Jesus then confronted her with the tremendous fact that He Himself is the resurrection and the life.
Both are identified with Him. Jesus made it known that resurrection is not merely a distant prospect, but a present reality in Him (Jesus). He is not only life, but also conveys life such that death will never triumph over those who believe.
The Venerable Dr Princewill Onyinyechukwu Ireoba is the Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.
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