13 Feb 2014 by Stewart Chew-
And the incomparably great power for us who believe – that great power is like the working of His mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead – and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly realms (!)
Ephesians 1: 19–20
With the only exception of Jesus Christ, I do not think ever in history that there is any record of an incident of someone who actually died and was buried and came back to life again witnessed by thousands of people. The actuality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the focal point of the all the truths and the beliefs of the Christian Faith. Its victory over death is the basis of Christian resilience. The physical death of Jesus Christ has been presented well by all the four gospels. We also read in Christianity Malaysia about the horrors of the sufferings and the death of Christ (Ref: http://christianitymalaysia.com /wp/crucifixion-granted). Even more emphasis had been placed on the victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day like He had promised His disciples. Jesus has shown that He has defeated death. The post-crucifixion involvement of Jesus with His apostles has impacted and completely changed their lives around! The weak and confused followers of Jesus Christ at the onset of the death of their Master became recharged and strong and surged in response to the call of Jesus to them. Peter, the disillusioned and defeated leader of the apostles after the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, was transformed to Peter the Rock. He was totally unafraid for himself and his disciples of the drastic forewarnings decreed by the Romans when he publically announced the birth of the first Christian church!
Very few reports have been recorded medically about the nature of death because very little is known. Death of a person signals the end of further medical attention. We know that during the time of death, the body physiology switches off one organ system to another, starting from the cessation of heartbeat that results in the failure of the circulation of blood to the lungs. Lack of oxygen through pulmonary failure rapidly causes the death of nerve cells in the brain and the nervous system, as they have the least tolerance compared to all the tissues in the body. As the respiration of the cells of the other body systems are also similarly affected, the sequential death of these systems will quickly follow brain death.
The death process of a human body can be illustrated in this manner. Imagine someone locking up his house before he goes out at night. He visits every room to switch off the lights and one sees darkness set in systematically to the house, starting from the rooms upstairs and then the rooms downstairs and then the kitchen and finally the porch when he finally closes the front door as he steps out. However, he will come home later and so when he returns, he will switch on all the lights back again. The process of light-to-dark when he leaves and then back to dark-to-light when he returns is a reversible procedure. However, that’s where the comparison of the two ends. The physical death process of the human body is totally irreversible because cell death is totally irreversible.
Now the ‘incomparable great power’ that Apostle Paul wrote about (Ephesians 1:19) contradicts medical irreversibility and the finality of death. Apostle Paul tells us that God has used His power to reverse the physical death when modern medical science claims that this is a total impossibility! God has proven His omniscience to all of us in the resurrection of Jesus Christ! In another instance in John 11:43 we read that Jesus showed us that He reversed the putrifying process of death and decay when He raised Lazarus who was already dead and buried for several days.
It is unthinkable that life ends forever at the moment of death. How hopeless and frightening it must be at the time of death for those who realized that they have reached the end of the line! Not even the importance of their numerous lifetime achievements or the abundance of their wealth and fortune that they have accumulated can make one bit of difference to prolong their lives! The Christian doctrine of resurrection is based on the belief in the resurrection of Christ, and from the first has held a central place in Christian thought and preaching. Christian preaching and Christian faith would both be in vain if Christ has not risen and proven that life goes on eternally after death (I Cor15:14).
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). Christian missionaries over the centuries have travelled long journeys, braved immeasurable dangers, suffered long illnesses and risked their lives to spread the word of the Gospel. Many endured torture and death on mission fields so that the flag of the saving grace of God through the acceptance of Jesus Christ will always be accessible to the reach of every one of God’s children in this whole wide world!
Note: Stewart Chew is a retired senior lecturer in School of Medical Sciences, Curtin University in Perth, Australia
References for pictures