By The Rev. Dan Wiese
The day I sat down to write this article is the Monday after Easter, or as I prefer, Resurrection Sunday. Monday is a beautiful day here in Juneau. It is sunny and warm, and you can feel spring in the air. You sense the beginning of new life springing forth around the region after a cold dark winter. I love this time of year when trees start to bud, the robins return, and even the bears come out of hibernation. It is almost like resurrection after a long, winter dormancy!
The central message of the Bible is that Jesus was crucified for our sins. He died. But on the third day, he arose from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection was the central message of the New Testament Church, for it validated everything Jesus taught and did, revealing the full purpose of why he came to earth. He came to redeem people lost in sin. He came to bring salvation, reconciling God and people. He came to bring true hope and peace to a troubled world and troubled people. He came to show us the love of God and his desire that we walk with him as he purifies us from sin.
I have noticed this year, in a refreshing way, how the creation testifies to resurrection. I read recently how water bugs live beneath the surface of a pond, scurrying around in the mud, but then one day they climb up the stalk of a lily pad and sit in the sun. A transformation occurs as the sun dries out its wings, and it becomes a dragonfly. The life beneath the surface ended and the dragonfly discovers new life and freedom. He discovers new abilities as he stretches his wings and flies around above the water surface.
Death for a person with faith in Jesus and recipient of the salvation he provides is not an end, but a transformation. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, he has opened a new door for us in the hereafter. The Bible speaks to us about life after death! I Corinthians 15:50-53 (NIV) in the New Testament, says, “I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”
It certainly is a mystery, but the Bible gives us a glimpse into that mystery revealing what life after death looks like for the person who follows Jesus, whose life has been transformed. He also talks about a new resurrected body (the older I get the more I like that idea!) much like the transformation of the water bug to the dragonfly or the caterpillar to the butterfly.
God’s creation testifies to resurrection, illustrating that it is God’s plan for all who surrender their lives to him. These illustrations in nature show that our transformation after we die (or transition from here to eternity) will happen. This worn-out body dies and is buried or cremated, but what makes us, us, lives on and will receive a new resurrected body. This is described in 1 Corinthians 15 in more detail.
I think the best illustration is springtime when we see trees, bushes, grass, etc. go from dormancy to new life. What an incredible illustration of new life. Jesus offers new life, a transformed life to all. That is why we, in the Christian church, celebrate Resurrection Sunday (Easter). It fills us with hope for the entire year that follows. May you share in that blessed hope!
• The Rev. Dan Wiese is pastor for the Church of the Nazarene. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.