Philippians 3:20-21 (ESV) -- But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
“Where do we go when we die?” This question is asked by almost every human at some point in their lives. The answer given may vary depending on who is answering the question, but a Christian would respond with, “Heaven, if we trust in Jesus.” And many who hear that answer will go the rest of their lives thinking about Heaven as a place where we go as disembodied spirits. We die and go to Heaven. But this is only partially true.
The Bible teaches that we go to Heaven, but where we go now when we die will not be where we stay forever. No, in fact, the Bible talks very little about the place we go when we die and focuses most of its attention on what Heaven will look like when Jesus returns. The return of Christ will usher in eternal life in a New Heavens and New Earth. And the first thing to take place when Jesus returns is the dead will be raised.
Our passage today reminds us that the hope of the Christian is the resurrection of our bodies from our existing lowly state, where sickness, pain, and death pervade, into a glorious body. Our resurrected bodies will bear resemblance to our existing bodies. It will be us. But it will be a new us. We will not sin, get sick, feel pain, or die. This is a glorious vision to hold onto as a Christian.
These bodies of ours will one day succumb to death. But here is the hope of the Christian: Jesus’ return will usher forth the resurrection of the dead and the restoration of the world. That is the Christian message. Cling to this truth as you mourn loved ones who have passed. Remember this as you consider your own death. Jesus is the victor.
Reflection & Journal:
Do Christians talk and think enough about the day Christ returns and raises the dead? Why do you think that is?
What does the future resurrection of the dead tell us about the nature of life in the New Heavens and New Earth when Jesus returns?
How does knowing that the grave will not ultimately hold us down help us to live today, and in what ways does it affect how we see funerals?