What an amazing story! Jesus restores a young girl back to life from the place of death. What life was it that she received from Jesus? Was it a new form of her previous existence, a continuation of the old, or something completely different? So far as I can see from the account in Luke her spirit returned (her human spirit that is) to enable her to resume her human existence. Whether she had a spiritual rebirth we’re not told. There’s no evidence to suggest this. So her new life was really a resumption of the old, under the empowering and authority of the intervention of Jesus.
Recently I had a similar experience, although not so overtly of Jesus. I suffered a heart attack one morning whilst sharing in worship, and during the emergency surgery that followed my heart stopped and had to be restarted, by being ‘shocked’ into life. I had no spiritual encounter, and no vision of heaven. Rather it was a blank period, followed by a sudden, rather physical, fight back into consciousness! I was, and still am, very much alive, and I’m getting stronger each day. Do I now have ‘new life’? I certainly have a renewed human existence, but is that the same? I was given the gift of ‘abundant life’ when Jesus accepted me over forty years ago, and that life continues on, in the heavenly plane, and will continue to do so, into eternity. Praise God!
Often we use the phrase ‘new life in Christ’, but I’ve been surprised to find that this does not occur in the original languages of the Old and New Testament. The NIV has three occasions where it uses ‘new life’, but none of these are actually ‘new life’ in the original language, rather they refer to eternal life, renewal or newness. Many UK churches are called ‘New Life’ Church. So what do we mean by this phrase?
In Romans 6:4 Paul talks about normal human life as being ‘dead in our trespasses and sins’. But when we’re raised up with Jesus, through faith, as symbolised in believer’s baptism, we’re given ‘newness of life’. Paul also tells us that we’re being ‘renewed and transformed into Christ’s likeness’ (2 Corinthians 3:18). In Christ we’re in a new relationship with the Father and thus, in effect, new creations (2 Corinthians 5:11).
All this, it seems to me, is the transitioning into the reality of the future life we look forward to. We begin to experience here on earth now what it will be like in heaven, when we’re no longer encumbered by our own mortality. Did Jesus give the girl in Luke 8 ‘new life’? Yes and no – a renewed life certainly. Did I receive ‘new life’ when my heart was restarted? No and yes, as I’m sure that God was in the process of my restoration to earthly life.
But I’m sure of one thing: the free gift of God in Christ Jesus is eternal life, and that’s something very different from our present day life. I’m so glad that my life didn’t end when my heart stopped, and that my life will not end when my heart eventually ceases to function permanently. Perhaps calling it ‘new life ‘is OK anyway!
Prayer: Lord I am so grateful for the certainty that whatever happens to me in this body of death, I have the assurance of life with You. Thank You for this amazing gift of life and life. Help me to use it wisely and for Your glory I pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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