Recently, I was called into the hospital to help a family through the last hours of their mother. It was not an easy afternoon, as we watched the numbers on her monitors fall slowly to zero. She died very peacefully, surrounded by her husband, her children, and her loved ones. As a Chaplain, I made myself available to them without being obtrusive in this very private family event.
As I attended to them, I began to think about something we had discussed in Bible Study a few weeks ago about Jesus’ coming. Jesus promised the disciples in John 14:3, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” Some might argue that this refers to Jesus’ Second Coming, and well it might. But there is a subtle promise made here for every believer, I think.
I am reminded of Stephen in Acts 7 who was the first Christian martyr. He testified that he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. (Acts 7:56) Was Jesus coming then to receive Stephen into glory? Would the Lord of Heaven take the time to receive us individually upon our death? Would Jesus come and receive us personally when we die? It’s possible.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul remarked, “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” (2Co 5:8) He says elsewhere, “I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Php 1:23) The Bible makes clear that the Christian will be with Christ upon death. Jesus’ promise to the disciples makes it seem that He personally will receive all who die in the Lord as well.
And thus my thought as I sat there watching this family grieve, “Is Jesus here too?” Did Jesus come to receive this dying woman unto Himself? Did He, unseen to human eyes, receive the soul of this dying woman? Were our eyes unveiled, would we too be witnesses of His majesty as Peter was on the Mount of Transfiguration? There came over me a special desire for holiness as I imagined the presence of Christ in that very room preparing to lead this dear saint homeward.
Call it speculation if you will. But wouldn’t it be great if the last eyes you see on this earth and the first eyes you see in Heaven belong to Jesus? What if Jesus was the one that escorted us across the threshold into the heavenlies, through the gates of pearl and into the presence of the holy ones. Just as Jesus has been the author and perfecter of our faith, would He not too be our guide into heavenly realms? It’s certainly something to think about, and something to look forward to.