The last of eight reasons to believe in life after death reveals the heart and soul of Christianity: God’s willingness to suffer with and die for us.
Although the seven aforementioned reasons are enough for most people to believe in life after death, this last reason is one that resonates most within my heart and reverberates within my soul and mind. Jesus Christ personifies God’s agape-love that transcends this world and eventually transforms everything in it, including sickness and death!
The God we see in Christ is a God no one could have imagined or invented in a million years. In Christ we see a God who humbles Himself to be born in a stable, cradled in a feeding trough for animals called a manger. He lives among us and suffers with us. But, above all, in the mystery of mysteries and miracle of miracles, dies on a cross for us.
He lives among us and suffers with us. But, above all, in the mystery of mysteries and miracle of miracles, dies on a cross for us.
Isaiah envisioned a coming Messiah that until this very day astounds any serious student of the Bible and confounds the most adroit and astute Jewish rabbi. In Isaiah 53:5-12 we read amazing words that became incarnate in Jesus the Christ:
… He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.
We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.
… Like a lamb led to the slaughter … He was cut off from the land of the living; He was struck because of my people’s rebellion.
They made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His death, although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.
… He will prolong His days, … My righteous Servant will justify many, And He will carry their iniquities.
Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, And He will receive the mighty as spoil, Because He submitted Himself to death, And was counted among the rebels; Yet He bore the sin of the many And interceded for the rebels.
After meeting the Messiah, Paul writes in Romans 5:8 how “God proves His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!” It is His own unique, one-of-a-kind, out-of-this-world love for us. It is a love that knows no limits! It is a love that conquers all – even death!
To use the words of Emily Bronte, this and this alone is “the steadfast rock of immortality.” It was on this rock that the Apostle Paul stood as he wrote in I Corinthians 15:54-58 these death-defying words that enliven my heart, soul and mind:
Death is swallowed up in victory,
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.
Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
Because you know that your labor is not in vain.
Amen and Amen!
The post-note to these words are what has happened because of Christ’s transcending and transforming love. The world was changed, in a sense split into two parts, between B.C. and A.D. because followers of Christ were inspired and empowered by a Resurrection Power.
In which half do we find hospitals, leper colonies, orphanages, treatment programs, hospices, schools for children and the poor, the end of slavery, and radical reforms to protect mistreatment of men, women and children? In the A.D. part that lived under the influence of Jesus Christ! We as Christians testify to Christ’s transcending and transforming love that overcomes every evil – even death!
Paul Baxter is retired pastor of First Baptist Church on the Square in LaGrange. He is available for preaching, teaching apologetic Bible studies, and a study on life after death. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.