Do you remember those Chinese kungfu movies where everyone was trying to look for the elixir or magic pill of immortality? More recently we also saw in Harry Potter, which is now the best-selling book series of all time, how the evil Lord Voldemort attempted to defeat death and gain immortality through the desperate means of splitting his soul using dark magic.
Since time immemorial, man has been fascinated with the subject of becoming immortal, of conquering death and living forever.
But even the most audacious methods concocted by man in fiction are still sorely lacking. The “immortal” masters in the kungfu movies are wizened old men living isolated in remote caves without any human interaction for decades and centuries. And in the evil Lord Voldemort’s case, he ended up in a fate worse than death, hideously disfigured and barely living, with his soul torn in pieces and a wake of death and destruction as a result of his impossible quest.
Death is the one obstacle we can never overcome or avoid. Every one of us has to face death. It doesn’t matter how rich, accomplished, or influential you are, we all leave this world one day, the same way we entered it: naked, with no ability to take anything with us into the afterlife. It’s no wonder then that everybody fears death and dreads all of its companions: sickness, disease, ageing, memory loss.
Even with all the advancements in medical science, stem cell technology and cloning capabilities, we’re still no closer to evading death today than our forefathers were centuries and millenia ago. And so man’s quest for immortality has remained but an unattainable dream, confined to fiction.
Or has it?
One week ago today we celebrated the resurrection of the only Man in history who lived, died, and rose again – and Who is still living today, at God the Father’s right hand: Jesus. A little more than 2,000 years ago, Jesus defeated death, the last enemy, with death itself.
Yes, God Himself calls death an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). We must understand: Death was never part of God’s plan for man. God never meant for man to die when He made man, Adam. But man sinned against God by eating from the forbidden tree, and death entered as a result of sin.
From then on, all humanity was born with sin in their blood, and death became a certainty. In the beginning, during Adam’s time, people lived up to over 900 years old, bearing children when they were 500 years old! But as the earth and creation degenerated over time as a consequence of man’s fall and sin, the human lifespan got shortened gradually to 120, and today we think 80 or 90 is pretty long-lived already.
But something inside us knows inherently that death is not meant to be, because we naturally mourn and grieve the passing of loved ones and people. Jesus Himself wept at Lazarus’ tomb, even though He knew He would be raising Lazarus from the dead shortly (John 11:1-44). Our continuous search for ways to prolong life and youth attest to the same.
In His great love, God already planned for the redemption of man from death, from the moment that man sinned, through prophesying that a sinless Man – His own Son Jesus, coming in the form of a man – would be born of a virgin, and would crush the devil Satan, who is the wielder of death today (Genesis 3:15).
The virgin birth meant that Jesus would have no sin in His blood (as He would only have sinless blood from His Father, God, in Him – a fact that is medically proven today), thus fulfilling the requirement for being the sinless Lamb of God, who could take on the sins of the whole world.
As such, death could not hold Jesus, not because He was the Son of God, but because death had no right to hold Him, Jesus being sinless in and of Himself. The devil, in inciting the men of Jesus’s day to crucify and kill Him, did not realise that in doing so he himself would be thwarted by the wisdom of God, with death being rendered powerless by Jesus’s one perfect sacrifice at the cross (1 Corinthians 2:8. 1 Corinthians 15:54-58, Colossians 2:15).
With His resurrection, Jesus accomplished 2 things for us: i. He produced the holy receipt proving that our sin debt has once and for all been paid, and ii. He conquered death and guaranteed for all who believe in Him eternal life, in a new, redeemed and incorruptible body upon His coming for His saints, an event known as the rapture.
It was necessary for Jesus to be raised again because He took our sins – the sins of the entire world – upon Himself, and died the sinner’s death in our place. Only if God was fully satisfied with the payment for sins could Jesus be raised from death. Thus, Jesus’s resurrection meant that our sin debt has been fully cleared by God on account of Jesus’s payment on our behalf, and today, all of us who believe in Jesus stand justified and righteous in Christ before God (Romans 4:25).
And now we come to the even more exciting, latter point: With His victory over death, Jesus has also conquered death on behalf of all who believe in Him. Yes, it means eternal life in heaven with Him, but not just that.
In numerous places in the Bible the promise of the redemption of our physical body is mentioned – when our current mortal body is changed into an incorruptible glorious body. It means we will get a body that will never feel tired or bored or afraid again, that will never grow old, that is without blemish or defects, that is still solid like our body now but can go through matter, and that we can still eat in!
How do we know this? Jesus demonstrated it after He rose from the dead. He appeared in a room behind locked doors, got the astonished disciples to handle His body, and ate fish and honeycomb in their presence (Luke 24:36-43).
How do I know we will be forever young? Because ageing is part of death; we will look our prime, just as Jesus did. And imagine, if the first men like Adam to Noah, could still be having children at 500, they must’ve still been youthful at that age; how much more so for us with redeemed bodies that can live forever!
When will this happen? Anytime before the Second Coming of Christ, when Jesus first returns for His church with a trumpet sound, and those who are dead in Christ are raised first, before the rest in Christ who are alive and remain are snatched or seized up together to be with the Lord Jesus in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).*
And in that rising, the dead in Christ will say, “O Hades, where is your victory?”; and those in Christ who are still living when raptured will say, “O Death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). At the end of the age, all these will return to reign with Jesus on earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4-6).
If this isn’t better than the mere “immortality” that man seeks for, I don’t know what is.
This isn’t science fiction. This isn’t fantasy. This isn’t the figment of somebody’s imagination. This is God’s holy Word, and It. Is. REAL.
Death holds no more power over the believer in Christ. This is the blessed hope that every believer looks forward to. You wouldn’t want to miss it.
That’s right. When you receive Jesus, you receive the promise of eternal life and youth, in a new body like no other.
Because when you encounter Jesus, you encounter grace.
*The description of the rapture is recorded in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4, but is mentioned also in other books of the New Testament including Romans, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Ephesians, and more.