An interesting question came up on my high school class forum page the other day. “How can you know there is life after death?” The question didn’t surprise me at all. You see we graduated many moons ago and many of the posts seen this year are ones that have been added to the “In Memory” page. In fact, this is the year many of us will be celebrating our Jubilee Birthday! Yet, I humor myself by believing I’m young at heart.
How can you know there is life after death?
When I think about this I am drawn to a specific moment in the life of Jesus. It is one of the most poignant moments which occurred as Jesus was dying on the cross. To the disciples it was over. All hopes for a new kingdom were dying with Jesus on that cross. One of the criminals that had been sentenced to die beside Jesus that day, scoffed and said “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself–and us too, while you’re at it.”
But then, the other criminal demonstrated a far greater faith than even the disciples. He blew away the understanding of those who had spent the last three years of their lives as Jesus lived among them. He turned and said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” His faith was astounding! The disciples had left their belief at the cross and scattered in fear. This man had lived a sinful life. He wasn’t saved by his good deeds. Jesus, while in agony, offers this man mercy and tells him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise. This is my solemn promise.”
What hope that gives to all of us. There is nothing we can do to deserve the overwhelming love of Christ Jesus. Even at the very last moment of our lives, if we put our trust in him he will give us the reward of living for all eternity with him. He doesn’t say that we will be given a different life in a different time, he doesn’t say that we will be reincarnated and given another chance to live another life. “Today!” We pass from this life to the next.
When my grandmother was dying, I had the opportunity to stand beside her bed all alone. I knew in my heart that this would be the last time I would spend with her. I didn’t know what to say as I held her hand. Her breathing was ragged and I was worried that she was in pain. Do we ever know what to say? I didn’t think about it, but words came out of my mouth that could have only been given to me by our dear Savior. I hadn’t memorized them, and yet when I looked at my Bible later it was word for word.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3 NKJV
She squeezed my hand, and I knew that she understood. I know that some day when Jesus takes me home, I will see her and all those others in my family and my faith family who have gone before me. This is Jesus ‘solemn promise’ to us. I’m so glad that this part of Jesus story has been recorded for us. Many times we think we need special words, “The Four Spiritual Laws,” or the right conditions or place. If a man dying on a cross for his earned sins can have that solemn promise, then so can we. We don’t need any special consciousness or awareness. We only need simple faith to trust in Jesus. “Jesus, remember me.”