‘I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” John 8:51 (NIV)
Jesus says that those who keep His Word will never die. Those who heard Him thought He was crazy. They thought He was possessed by a demon. We all fear death. We would all secretly like to know that we will not grow old and die. But how can we step into that reality? How can we ever understand all that it entails? Who even really tries to imagine it? Do we always come up short when we try? What if for some reason our eyes were opened slightly and we could see into eternity? Would that be a terrifying experience? What would our reaction be? If we suddenly stepped into the light of never dying, would all the fixed points of our existence shift? Would all that we understand of our universe and all that brings us confidence, instantly be moved or lost completely. Would we be like a baby that finds itself born into a terrifying new environment? Would we be surrounded by an unlimited number of new experiences overwhelming our senses? Would the realization of never seeing death be more frightful and more immense than we could take?
However impossible and scary the actuality of never dying might be, it is one of the overlying teachings of Jesus. Some religions cling to this hope before many of the other wonderful promises Jesus makes. In fact there are some people who approach Jesus for little or nothing more than the thought of Him providing them with this immense and unsearchable treasure. Where do we find ourselves? If Jesus is holding this life without end to us, will there surely come a day when some of us will experience it? Should we all aspire to be one of those chosen few who will step one day into the reality of eternity?
At the same time as we look forward to this overwhelming concept, should we also remind ourselves of the frightful reality of it? Shall we be honest enough with ourselves to know that it will be more than our frail human minds will be able to take? Can we admit that we will need to have a firm shoulder to lean on when our reality is torn instantly away? Should we realize right now that we should be extremely close to the One Who says He will be standing next to us when it actually does come to pass? Do we realize that the ability to live forever is only handed to those close enough to Him to be able to handle it? Do we know that to never die means that we will be with Him forever? Do we understand that eternity Is knowing Him? In the face of everlasting life, Who or What will become that fixed point that we count on? What will be our Reason to rejoice in when our life loses its familiar terminal quality? Shall we bow our heads and embrace the One Who knows what He is talking about when He speaks of living in a Way that we never die?
Dear Jesus, this treasure You hold before us is greater than we can imagine. Never dying is a concept we do not have enough experience to know all that it entails. But You hold it out to us like it is a prize worth seeking. So we would like to follow You. We would like to draw close to You. Spread Your arms around us now. Protect us from the immensity of what You promise. Let us come so close to You that we will be safe and secure by Your side. Walk with us as we move into unfamiliar territory. Stay by our side for all eternity to come. In Your Presence we will find our reward in being together with You! You will Be our prize! Give us the pleasure of knowing You today! Then never let that nearness die we pray!