HEIDELBERG CATECHISM, LORD’S DAY 22
How does “the resurrection of the body” comfort you?
Not only my soul will be taken immediately after this life to Christ its head, but even my very flesh, raised by the power of Christ, will be reunited with my soul and made like Christ’s glorious body.
How does the article concerning “life everlasting” comfort you?
Even as I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy, so after this life I will have perfect blessedness such as no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human heart has ever imagined: a blessedness in which to praise God eternally.
Tuesday, May 23: Luke 23:26-43
What do we say about our Christian brothers and sisters who die? First, we acknowledge the truth that the person is dead. We feel the pain of Paul’s question: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting” (1 Corinthians 15:55)? Death’s victory is announced in a funeral service and mocks us in a cemetery. Its sting is felt in lost conversations and the cruel sight of a casket. The person is dead, their lifeless body sunk into the ground. Second, we acknowledge the truth that the person is alive. We can say this because the sting of death was placed on Jesus. He bore our death and while in the grip of its cruel agony cried out to His Father our pain: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34). God’s silence toward Jesus is His voice of grace to us: “by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Therefore, Jesus promised a thief that “today” he would be in paradise (Luke 23:43), Paul affirmed that at death he would gain Christ (Philippians 1:21), and we are free to desire to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). So, what happens when Christians die? They go home to be with the Lord. That’s all the Bible teaches. We don’t know how they live in heaven or whether they see us. Our speculations about the immortality of the soul will likely not help us. In fact, none of that really matters. What matters most is that we grieve death with resurrection hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). For each of us the essential resurrection question is this: “Am I ready to meet Him who alone gives life and hope?” Today I could die in a car accident, drop dead of a heart attack, or begin the slow process of death by terminal cancer. I hope you can say that “I already now experience in my heart the beginning of eternal joy,” for to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21-23).
Pastor Calvin Hoogendoorn