What Happens After You Die?

Text: Luke 7:11-17

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

What happens after you die?  Yes, what happens after you die? 

Well, it depends on who you ask. 

According to some people, like Hinduists, when you die you discard your body, like taking off old clothes. And then, you put on a new and different body. This kind of belief sees the body as nothing more than just a shell for the soul, resulting in the soul moving from body to body to body.  The soul lives on; the body does not. 

And then there are the Mormons, who teach that after death, people can eternally progress to become gods and goddesses in the afterlife. In fact, if one progresses enough they could even rule their very own planet as a god. 

Many atheists reject all of these ideas and believe that after death, there is nothing.  In other words, after death, we are gone — no more life, no more interactions with others, and certainly no awareness, just gone. 

And let us not forget all those religions that believe that the soul belongs to a spiritual universe. Otherwise stated, they teach that death is a liberation from the material world so that the soul can escape to a freeing spiritual kingdom.

Maybe a little closer to home is the belief that we have all seen on social media and heard from relatives: that we become angels after death. That is right; many well-intentioned but na├»ve Christians believe we become angels when we die.  When someone dies the social media posts say, “God needed another angel in heaven.”

Now, considering all of these opinions about life after death, what do we learn about death and the afterlife from our reading in the Gospel of Luke and is it similar to some of these views?

In our Gospel reading from Luke, a young man has died. They were carrying his corpse out from the city until they bumped into Jesus. And Jesus?  Well, he had compassion for the dead man’s mom. So, he came forward and touched the coffin and said,

”Young man, I say to you, get up!”

As a result of Jesus speaking to the young man, the dead man sat up and begin to talk. And Jesus?  He gave this young man back to his mother.

Now, dear friends, do not let the details of our Gospel reading pass by you too quickly.  That is to say; you and I can learn a lot about death and the afterlife from our Gospel reading.

For example, if death is nothing more than our souls leaving the shell of a body to inhabit a different body, according to the Hinduists, why did Jesus put the dead man back into his same body?  Let me rephrase that; if death is us squeezing out of our body to get into a new body, why did Jesus but this man’s soul back into the same body?

And if after death, our goal is to progress to become a god, according to the Mormons, why did Jesus interfere with this man’s path and journey to become a god?  If we are to become a god someday, Jesus certainly did help this man by putting him back into his so-called lowly human body.

And if God needed this young man to be an angel in heaven, was Jesus robbing heaven of another angel, by returning this man’s soul to his body? 

And if the goal of our souls is to escape these evil material bodies, isn’t Jesus imprisoning this man’s soul back inside his evil body by bringing him back to life?

As you can see, all of these philosophies, opinions, and thoughts about life after death, do not harmonize with today’s Gospel’s reading from Luke.  They don’t work with Jesus. 

Baptized Saints, Jesus is not about squeezing you out of your body so that you might migrate to a new physical body, like an ocean crab exchanging its old shell for a new shell.

And Jesus does not view your body as something evil that you need to escape from.

Jesus is not about making you an angel, for the number of angels in heaven are already fixed.  Furthermore, we are distinctly different from angels.  Angels do not have bodies but we do. 

And this silly idea of trying to become a god with your own planet?  We don’t even need to talk about this, for it is a complete fairy tale. 

So, what happens after you die then?  Yes, what happens after you die? 

You and I see pretty clearly what will happen to us after death in our Gospel reading.  In our Gospel reading, Jesus speaks to the dead man, and the corpse hears Jesus’ voice.  That is right; the dead man truly hears the voice of Jesus.  By Jesus’ Word alone, the dead man was raised to life, and by His Word alone Jesus will raise you from the grave on that great judgment someday. 

We must keep in mind that when you and I die that the unity of our body and soul is broken.  To be alive is to have body and soul united – together.  However, death is the great divider of body and soul.  Death breaks the body and soul apart from one another. 

So, once death strikes, the soul goes immediately to be in the presence of Jesus in paradise.  And the body?  Well, it remains here in the grave. 

But here is what is so completely radically different about Christianity.  Listen to this: Christ Jesus does not leave your body in the grave to decay into nonexistence.  Christ does not see your body as a mere shell to escape from to progress into some fake divine spiritized realm.  Christ does not see your body as evil.  Baptized Saints, your body is not like any of these views, as taught by these false religions.  But instead, dear Baptized Saints, your body matters to the Lord.  Your body was knit together in your mother’s womb. When Adam and Eve were created – as soul ‘and’ body – the Lord God said, this is ‘very good.’ 

And so, after you die, your soul goes with Jesus, and your body is tucked into a grave to await the voice of Jesus.  And when you hear the voice of Jesus from your grave?  Well, you will come out! 

This is why the Lord has seen fit to give us the Holy Scriptures that speak so much of the dead being raised. 

And how are they all raised? 

They are raised by Jesus speaking to death, and death - by the command of Jesus - must let go. 

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus says,

          “Young man, I say to you, get

And the man, got up. 

In the Gospel of John, Jesus spoke into a dark dead tomb and said,

“Lazarus, come out!”

And Lazarus came out. 

In Luke’s Gospel, a little girl had died, and Jesus taking her hand, said,

          “Child arise.”

And she got up at once. 

And the same will be true for you someday. 

After you are laid 6-feet under, there will be a time where your physical body will hear Jesus voice with your physical ears,

          “Get up, come out, arise!”

And you will come out of the grave of death with the very same body that you currently have; however, it will be a body that will be completely free from sin, death, pain, fear, anxiety, decay, and disease.  The same body that you die with will be brought back to life.  Your body will be glorified – the way it was meant to be, without sin, without blemish, and without fault.   

Death will not be able to keep your body in its cold grave.  Death will not keep your ears deaf to the voice of Jesus.  Death will not keep you decaying in dust and ashes.  No!  The voice of Jesus was stronger than Lazarus’ death.  The voice of Jesus was stronger than the young man’s death.  The voice of Jesus was stronger than the little girl’s death.  And the voice of Jesus is stronger than your death. 

But how do we know this to be so true? 

We know this because Jesus not only called people out of death in His earthly ministry, but He rose from the dead Himself. 

Baptized Saints, it is like this: your confidence that your body will be raised from the dead is not based upon a theory or upon some golden mystical plates or upon an ancient myth or upon a philosophy.  But instead, your confidence is based upon a real event that happened in real-time to a real person – Christ Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the grave on the third day. 

In other words, because Jesus is alive – bodily – you will be alive bodily. 

You are connected to Jesus in baptism. 

You are cemented to Jesus by faith. 

What happened to Jesus in the resurrection will happen to you at your resurrection.

Baptized Saints, your Redeemer lives and He will give you back your physical life after you die.  And you will see Him with your own very eyes.  He will do all of this by calling out to you… and you will hear Him and get up. 

Christ makes all things new. 

In the name of our resurrected Lord -  Jesus Christ. Amen. 

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