Many books have been written about near-death experiences. People have claimed to have died and been to heaven and then returned. They claim to have had conversations with loved ones and with the Lord.
When I was a child of nine I contracted Scarlet Fever. In those days there was no treatment other than bed rest. Scarlet Fever was considered a dangerous illness to catch. I was quarantined and consigned to bed for three weeks. My bed was moved to the lounge/dining room so I could be with people during the day. Also, it would be easier for Mum to care for me. All went well until the last week when I suffered a relapse.
‘The Doctor is visiting the town today, I think we need to see if he will come and see Gwen. She is very ill, she might need to go to the hospital.’ Mum tearfully confided to Dad.
Dad drove the seven miles into town. The Doctor promised to come after he had dealt with the day’s patients. It was about 5 pm when he arrived. It was a boiling hot day, and a dust storm raged across the district. Mum had lit the lamps at 4 pm.
I had overheard my parents talking and in my fevered brain prayed that I would not die.
I fell asleep during the afternoon and thought I was on a train rushing toward a light at the end of the tunnel.
Just as I reached the light I woke up. I knew I had turned for the better. The Doctor pronounced me too ill to move he was reluctant to put me in his car and take me back to the hospital. The roads were mere bush tracks and too rough. Nobody knew what an ambulance looked like. If Mum felt capable, she must try and care for me. In my heart, I knew I would get better. Later, when an adult, I read about other people’s experiences and realized I had had a near-death experience. I believe that the Lord answered my prayer, though just a child, and sent me back to live again.
When I die, I die,’ said Bertrand Russell. He believed what he said, or did he? Ever since humankind has inhabited the earth, the question of life after death has never successfully been answered.
Christianity makes a bold claim to live after death. It asserts that one man did die and return from the grave. It’s a wild assertion but supposing it were true?
Ancient Roman executions were grisly affairs. In the case of Jesus Christ, when his body was inspected by the soldiers, they found he was already dead and there was no need to break his legs and hasten his death as was the practice. Instead, they pierced his side, from which blood and water flowed. We are told that blood and water only separate when death has occurred. Jesus was dead.
Then the stories began. Jesus was back. At first, he was seen by one’s and two’s and then by hundreds. The news spread until his followers’ lives were threatened. Surely, if Jesus’ return from the grave was a hoax, would people allow themselves to be murdered? Too many people had seen Jesus for it to be a hoax.
Jesus was dead, but the grave was empty. The clothes he had worn were lying there in a heap. Jesus was the first person to break the death barrier. An old cliché comes to mind, ‘dead men tell no tales.’ Jesus was alive though, and he was telling tales about how to obtain eternal life.
Jesus proved he was powerful enough to break the death barrier, and that anyone who would trust him, he would lead them through the uncharted waters to the land of eternal life.
To everyone who decides to take Jesus on trust, they are saying, ‘OK, I haven’t seen him but I believe him.’ To those people, Jesus blesses with eternal life.
This plant is celebrating death – the flower has died – it is celebrating life – the seeds are flying off in the wind to land somewhere and grow and spread again. A metaphor of Jesus’ life. His death and resurrection and and multiplication of himself within those who believe.