Thursday, April 2 - Fifth Week of Lent
From the Little Black Book
Jewish belief in life after death
In the Jewish tradition, belief in life after death was quite vague.
In the day of Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, or Isaiah, the Jewish people did not really believe in life after death. They thought that when people died, only their memory lived on. That, by the way, was why it was so important to have children, and why it was considered a curse to be childless.
The first Scriptural evidence of Jewish belief in life after death appears in the Book of Daniel, which was written only about 150 years before Christ. The author is speaking about what will happen some distant day in the future - the end of time. Here is what he wrote:
"Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Some shall live forever... and shall shine brightly like the splendor of the heavens... and shall be like the stars forever." (Daniel 12:2-3)
The description in Daniel is that after people die, they more or less sleep until the end of time. Therefore, the Book of Daniel describes a delayed life after death.
By the time of Jesus, belief in a life after death and a final resurrection was commonly held by the Jewish people, although some (such as the Sadducees) did not believe in any kind of afterlife.
Martha said, "(But) even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise." Martha said to Him, "I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to Him, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that You are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world." -John 11:22-27
In light of Jewish belief of what happens after death, it's interesting to read carefully the response of Jesus.
He is revealing a new understanding of life after death. It is a remarkable revelation.
Jesus says that through faith in Him as the Messiah, the Son of God, we have new life within us now that is more than the result of our hearts ticking and our lungs breathing.
And this life that we have now lives right through death.
How can we human beings have a life that goes on when the heart stops ticking and the lungs stop breathing?
Because Jesus gives us God's life, and God's life never dies, never goes into a holding mode. It lives fully and forever.
"I am the resurrection and the life..."
Do you believe this?
Spend some quiet time with the Lord
Further thoughts for Lenten reflection: