What Happens After We Die? (Day 36)
What happens after we die? I think this is a question that we all ask. Although we have theories and things to say when we are asked this question (or when we ourselves ask this question), I believe there is always a lingering sense of being unsure or of wondering what really does happen.
Over the last 6 years, no matter how many funerals I’ve gone to, death is never easy. Even after hearing coroners’ reports for expected and unexpected deaths, I always leave a little bit disoriented from a loss. Death in so many ways feels so final. Even though, at least in our Adventist tradition, we have a hope that we will see our loved ones in a day of resurrection, still we wonder.
As I think about this week I am reminded that we are not the only people to have ever experienced this insecurity. Luke takes us back to the time when a group of Sadducees gathered around Jesus with this very question (20:27-40). The chapter starts with a group of religious leaders posing a question for Jesus for the third time. Their goal: to catch him in a lie or find fault in his story. The question comes to Jesus about a widow who had married 7 men (this was as story they made up). They wondered who she would be married to after the resurrection.
The question from the Sadducees was a peculiar one. Sadducees, as some of the most conservative upper-class Jews, did not believe in a resurrection. (Who needs a hopeful future when the status quo is working so well for you?) And yet there they were with a question for Jesus about death. The response from Jesus is brilliant. Jesus I believe, recognizes this insecurity, as he has likely seen this same struggle in all people he has encountered (Jew or Gentile). He answers with a reminder that God is not a God of death, but a God of the living (v. 38).
As I look ahead into this week, anticipating the inevitable traumatic ending of the life of Jesus, this passage reminds me that my insecurities about life and death are not God’s insecurities. Rather God is confident that the story does not at all end with death. However, perhaps death is a part of the process, that we might understand how incredible and beautiful life truly is. The resurrection of Jesus is remarkable because it is life made new and whole.
I wonder what in my life needs to experience a death so I might make room for the new and whole life Jesus is pursuing me with? For the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, it was their tunnel vision for the law of Moses that needed to die. Whatever it is for you and me, we can be sure it will be disorienting and unleash our insecurities.
But, what happens after we die? Jesus says, we live!