Some people are terrified of dying. . .
others, not so much.
Why the fear? It is the unknown for sure.
'What will I feel...will dying hurt?' What will 'the other side' be like?
Good thoughts, good questions to be sure.
And you--when you slip out of this world into forever, what can you expect? hmmm...
In the next encounter Mark gives us a peek into what others are wondering about Paradise, or might there be something else at play? First one group of Jewish leaders tries to ensnare Jesus, and then another. The Sadducees, who do not even believe in heaven or an after life, try to pull Jesus into a quagmire about life on the other side.
"Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. So the second brother married the widow, but he also died without children. Then the third brother married her. This continued with all seven of them, and still there were no children. Last of all, the woman also died. So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection [in eternity]? For all seven were married to her.”
Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.
“But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—haven’t you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ So he is the God of the living, not the dead. You have made a serious error.”1
By appearances, they were asking Jesus about Heaven, which of course, makes me think about Heaven too. In many ways, it is a mystery for mere humans. I have been up close and personal as the proudest of irreligious humans was face to face with dying. Suddenly, he could not help but wonder. ‘Have I been wrong about this God thing? Could there be something on the other side? Is it possible there is a Heaven? Wait, how do I get there?’
Standing next to the hospital bed, I looked into Russ's eyes, I looked into Rod's eyes, as each came face to face with his mortality and his sudden smallness.
Do not be mistaken, there is a hush as a soul prepares to exit this life…. it is a sacred moment and the rarest of privileges.
While many people do not explore the eternal until they come face to face with their own mortality or lose a dear loved one, I wonder why we wait. When my mother went to be with Jesus 17 years ago at 91 years of age, I found myself daydreaming about what she might be doing in Heaven.
Before then, I just took the Word of God as truth - that God loved humanity so much that he gave his only Son, Jesus, to be the payment for our sin - so that we can live forever with him. Perhaps you've seen the John 3.16 signs at NFL games? For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. But, specifics on 'eternal life'? Yes, step right this way.
In April, our group will stand on the Isle of Patmos (Greece) where John received the Revelation from Jesus. Jesus gives specific insight into Heaven itself: a place of light, love and color; a beautiful river, a gold street, foundations of precious stones--sapphire, onyx, topaz . . . 12 gates, each a single giant pearl. Incomparable beauty and glorious praise surrounding the throne of the Lamb of God; yes, Heaven is a real place with real dimensions.2
It used to be that our only information about Heaven came from Scripture, but
in the last two decades, more Near Death Experiences have been recorded than ever before. STOP. 'Your attention? Your young person will come home and tell you that science is incompatible with the Bible because that is what their professor told them. Nothing could be further from the truth--science confirms the truths of the Bible, the supernaturally inspired Word of God. Think of it - as medical technology has improved (science), more people have been revived, after having already ‘coded’ or ‘flat-lined’, producing a brief span of time where they have experienced the other side, the what-comes-next.
Want a glimpse of the other side now? In his tremendous book, John Burke3 tells the stories of many who have experienced something of the other side (more than a hundred) - while syncing their stories/claims in the solid truths of Scripture. The Bible has the answers to how we got here, why we are here and our eternal destiny, even giving us pictures of life everlasting with Him.
Paul says it clearly: For the wages of sin is death, but [thank you, Father, for the but] the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.4 What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived--the things God has prepared for those who love him.5 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.6
Let us understand this together: There is no reason to fear death when we walk with the Author of Life, the One who gives and takes away7, who gifted us with life eternal in His presence. God will wipe away every tear we have cried and we will be reunited with loved ones in a place of unparalleled beauty and adventure. That truth makes me very happy indeed. While live fully this gift of life - invested in growing our relationship with God, taking care of the bodies he gave us, growing and challenging our minds, engaging in loving relationships, and seeing to our emotional well being… let's have one eye cast toward the finish line with a smile on our faces, knowing it will be beyond what we can think or imagine. And that makes me happy...and I guess I don't need marriage in Heaven to be so - in case a Sadducee is asking.
I can only imagine what it will be like--uptempo! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNDEyxEMNp0
in the footsteps of Jesus, gospel of Mark, #39
1 - Mark 12.18-27
2 - Revelation 21 and 22
3 - Imagine Heaven by John Burke
4 - Romans 6.23
5 - 1 Corinthians 2.9
6 - 1 Corinthians 13.12, NLT
7 - Job 1.21