“Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:36
Do we try to be people who are happy? Do we try to be people who have something cheerful to say? Do we try to be people who are positive? Do we try to be people who always to look on the bright side? Do we try to be people who are an encouragement to the other people around us?
If we answered “no,” are we people who need to be reminded about what we say we believe? Every time we come to church, we say that we believe in the resurrection; do we try to be people who live as people who believe in the resurrection?
In Saint Luke Chapter 20 Verse 35, Jesus speaks of “those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead.” Those people who are considered worthy are those who believe in him, faith in Jesus brings them place in the age to come, it brings them a place in the resurrection of the dead. Saint John Chapter 3 Verse 16, that Bible verse that captures the Good News in a single sentence, says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Believing in Jesus gives us a place in the age to come, it gives us a place at the resurrection of the dead.
In Saint Luke Chapter 20 Verse 36, Jesus explains what it means to have the place that he is offering us. He tells us that it means four things. Talking about those who believe, he says, “they cannot die anymore.”
Do we ever give thought to that prospect? Do we ever think that we can reach a place where we cannot die? In Saint John Chapter 11 Verses 25-26, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” If we have life beyond this life, if we have a life to come where we cannot die, shouldn’t that make us different people? Shouldn’t we be people without fear and without worry? If dying has no fear for us, then what else is there that can worry us? Do we ever think about what it might mean to live forever? “They cannot die anymore,” speaks to us of a life that it is hard for us to imagine, it says to us that we should always be people who are filled with hope. How can we not be happy if we and our loved ones can look forward to such a life?
Jesus says that those who believe in him “cannot die anymore,” and then he says that having a place with him means that, “they are like angels.” To be told that we are like angels is a great honour, but it is also a great responsibility.
Angels appear regularly in the Bible – there are almost three hundred references to them. The Greek word for angel, angelos, means a messenger, The word for “Gospel” in Greek, euangelion, comes from ‘eu’ meaning good, and ’angelion’ meaning message. In Scripture, angels are sometimes those who bring messages from God, sometimes they are more actively the agents of God’s will, as in the book of Exodus and in the book of Daniel where they are protectors of God’s people. In the Gospels, we find an angel announcing the birth of Jesus to Mary and an angel speaking to Joseph in dreams. When Jesus has gone through the temptations in the wilderness, angels come to minister to him. Angels will come and implement the final judgement, separating the wicked from the righteous. Jesus speaks in plain terms about the potential power of the angels to protect him. Not only were the angels there to protect Jesus, the angels were guardians of the vulnerable, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven,” says Jesus in Saint Matthew Chapter 18 Verse 10.
Are we like angels? Do we bring Good News to people? Do we have a sense of God’s power? Do we protect the weak and vulnerable? If Jesus says to us that we are like angels, shouldn’t it be something that fills us with joy?
We cannot die anymore, we are like angels, the third thing that Jesus says about those who believe in him is that they “are children of God.” Saint John Chapter 1 Verse 12 tells us, “to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.”
How often to we look at ourselves and say, “I am a child of God?” Probably not very often, perhaps if we did it would make us very different people. Wouldn’t everyday life become very different if we lived each day in the knowledge that we are children of God? It would give us joyful confidence in our own life and faith and it would give us a sense of the responsibility we bear, as members of God’s family we have a duty to that family. Not only would we see ourselves differently, we would see others differently. When we see other people as children of God, then we treat them differently. If we took Jesus’ words seriously, it it wouldn’t just make a difference to ourselves and to the people we meet, it would change the world. To be a child of God gives each and every person an infinite dignity that no-one can take away, it is a cause for us to be joyful.
“They cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God,” says Jesus, “children of the resurrection.” What does it mean for us to be children of the resurrection?
In the First Letter to the Corinthians Chapter 15 Verse 51-53, Saint Paul presents the resurrection as a joyful prospect, ” Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” When we look at how we age, when we look at the effects of sickness, when we look at how tragedy shortens life, what does it mean to us that these mortal bodies in which we live will put on immortality? In a twinkling of an eye, we shall all be changed at the resurrection. Life lived with such faith is life that is changed; nothing can make us afraid when we believe in that day to come.
Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection,” shouldn’t that promise fill us with joy?