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Easter, Eternal Life, and the Quality of Time


John 20:1-18

Christ is risen! I wonder if I were among the disciples on the first Easter and Mary Magdalene came and announced to us that she had seen the Lord, how I would have reacted. Would I have been among those disciples who believed right away, or like Thomas who reacted with a great deal of doubt saying, “I won’t believe until I see him personally and feel his scars with my own fingers”? I think I would have been both, I would believe, but in the same time I would want to see the proof. How about you?

Easter is probably the most important event in the recorded human history—so important that it divided our calendar into half—BC and AD. Each time you put down your signature and put a date next to it, you are making reference to Jesus’ resurrection. It doesn’t matter whether you are a believer or not. And it’s not just in America, but it’s all over the world. Even though there is such thing as a lunar calendar used by the Chinese, but the official calendar in China is still Anno Domini—the Year of the Lord. But why is Easter so important that it became the reference point for the entire world?

I think the primary reason is because human beings are not comfortable with death and Easter victoriously confronted death like no other events in history. Every culture around the world treats death as if it were unnatural for human beings. Even though the mortality rate of human beings has always been 100%, we still feel something being not right about death. We feel life should be more than just 100 years on earth. Of course if you are in your twenties, you might not feel it—most young people are just thinking about growing up and having a life—but if you are in your seventies, you begin to wonder why life is so short.

Have you ever considered that maybe the reason we are not comfortable with death is because we are not made to die? My logic is that if death is natural, we all should feel comfortable. Why after millions of years of evolution, we still haven’t evolved into embracing death easily and comfortably as our natural course of life? Death has always been a thorn in our flesh. If you grew up in Chinese family, you are taught not to talk about death. “Hush! Hush! Don’t talk about those ominous stuff!” It’s a subject so uncomfortable that people in every culture try to avoid it, even though it is our expected destination.

So I came to a logical conclusion that the reason we are not at ease with death is because we are not created to die. But is there any scientific proof? Recently, I’ve come across a BBC science program on the subject of time. There is a segment on “Earth Time,” another on “Day Time,” and another on “Lifetime,” presented by the Japanese-American physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku. Now let’s take a look at a short clip from his presentation on Lifetime that relates to eternal life:  

This is just a five-minute clip from a one-hour long program. But this section apparently supports my suspicion that human beings are not created to die. Our human cells are programmed to live forever. No wonder we never feel ready or comfortable to die.

In fact, according to the Bible, we are created to live for eternity. God never meant for us to die. The Bible says, death enters human life because of sin. The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us a glimpse of what life is supposed to be without sin. We often dismissed Jesus resurrection as a part of his divinity. But Easter is about the human side of Jesus because he said to Mary, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.” (John 20:17c) That means what Mary had witnessed was not Jesus in God form, but Jesus in human form, in his eternal body. That’s what we will be like after this sinful mortal body wears away and put on the eternal body. The resurrected Christ gives us a glimpse of heaven and eternity.

The rest of the video investigates why we end up dying if our cells are programmed to live forever. Scientists are on the verge of cracking the code of aging—may not be death itself but at least aging. One of them says even after we crack the code of human aging, people will still be mortal because we will still die of unpreventable situations like traffic accidents or disasters, but we will probably be able to live for about a couple of thousand years.

What they are saying is that we might be able to prolong life, but we might not be able to remove the cause of death once and for all. That makes sense because according to the Bible, our mortality is not really caused by biological corruption, but spiritual corruption. I don’t think two thousand years of life span is really fun if we still have to live with the “sting of death,” which, according to the Apostle Paul, is sin. (1 Corinthians 15:56)

If we want to overcome mortality, we must crack the code of sin, but the problem is it is not within the sphere of science. It’s not even within the capability of human beings, according to the Bible. We are so totally depraved that we have no capacity to strip off our sinful nature. We invent religions in attempt to remove the cause of death. Buddhism tries to teach you to do a lot of good deeds in order to earn the rights to nirvana.

All that religions can do for you is to teach you how to earn your salvation, but none of them are able to guarantee eternal life because they can only prescribe the practices but cannot promise the outcome. It all depends on how good you can be. However, anyone who has lived for a few scores of years on earth would testify his or her failure to live a guilt free life. It’s known as total depravity.

The only hope for human being to attain righteousness is through God’s grace and mercy since we have no ability to redeem ourselves. Jesus’ death on the cross is the only atonement that guarantees removal of the root cause of our motility, which is our sin. It’s free for anyone who is willing to receive it.

Without our sin removed, we will still encounter eternal death even if we live for an additional two thousand years. In fact, two thousand years in contrast to eternity is still a blink of eyes because eternity means millions and millions of years. I am sure we all welcome the two thousand years of life span our scientists will be giving us, but I am sure we prefer to have a sinless life, guilt free life, a life of clear conscience no matter how long we live. Jesus knows that our true struggle is not really about longevity, but the quality of life. The eternal life that Jesus offers us is not about the length of time, but the quality of time.

So this Easter, let us all receive the free gift of eternal life by receiving Jesus Christ into our lives and following him on the path of righteous living. Christ is risen! Amen!


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