Death is Short, Life is Forever
We’ve all heard or spoken the phrase, “Life is short but death is forever.” The point of the slogan captures the brevity of life contrasted against the permanence of death and the grave. James 4:14 defends the notion of the brevity of life. “…For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.” We take from this verse the reality that we cannot presume upon the future nor procrastinate away the opportunities of grace.
When it comes to life and death Jesus offers a counter-intuitive idea as He does with so many other issues of consequence. The hard sayings of Jesus on the issue of death not only fail to make sense from a human perspective but are stunning in their offer. Consider the following quotes and their meaning:
- “He who believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life and…IS PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE.” (John 5:24).
- “This is the bread that cometh down from heaven that a man may eat thereof and NOT DIE.” (John 6:50).
- “If a man keep my saying, he shall NEVER SEE DEATH.” (John 8:51).
- “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me SHALL NEVER DIE. Believeth thou this?” (John 11:26).
- “Because I live ye shall live also.” (John 14:19)
Recently, the writer has had four individuals from his community, workplace and church family pass into eternity. Most of our friends were believers, at least one may not have been. Some died due to disease; some died unexpectedly or tragically, but every one of them died! We celebrated their lives, wept over our loss, said our goodbyes to them and we understand that we will never see them again in this life. How then are we to understand the stunning claims of Christ that:
- Anyone who believes in Christ has already passed from death to life?
- If we receive the bread of life we will not see death?
- If we live and believe in Christ, we will NEVER DIE?
The story is told of a dying child. Her nurses gathered around her to comfort her. Overcome with grief, one of the nurses slipped from the room in tears to pour out her heart to God in the complaint that God was allowing an innocent beautiful child to suffer so much. Regaining her composure, the nurse returned to the room where the child lay. Moments later, the child began speaking as if someone else was in the room.
“Can you see Jesus too? He’s said he’s coming to take me to his house to be with him. Are you coming with us?” the child asked.
It was in that moment when the child came face to face with Jesus that the nurse understood the words of Jesus, “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” Though the child was experiencing death, she did not SEE death. She only saw the Savior who had come to step between her and death.
Jesus promises us eternal life. Eternal life means so much more than forgiveness of sins. Nor is the life He gives us something different in nature from His life. It is exactly the same kind of life He enjoys.
- In His life there is resiliency; nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:35-39).
- In His life there is security; God shall supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
- In His life there is goodness; our Father in heaven shall give good things to them that ask Him (Matthew 7:11).
- In His life there is satisfaction; the water he gives shall be in us a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14).
These features of eternal life are not simply for our existence while we are in this body. They are not lost when our loved ones expire. They cannot be lost for they are bound up with the resurrection life of the Savior and because He lives we shall continue to live also! (John 14:19). So because of Christ’s resurrection life that He shares with His disciples, its not that life is short and death is forever. Rather, it’s that death is short and life is forever!