What We Learn From Jesus
About Hope for the Dead
Jesus resurrected at least three persons, thus demonstrating that there is hope for the dead. (Luke 7:11-17; 8:49-56; John 11:1-45) To understand the hope for the dead, we must first comprehend the cause and origin of death.
Why Do We Get Sick and Die?
When Jesus forgave people their sins, they were cured. For example, when confronted with a paralyzed man, Jesus said: “‘Which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Get up and walk? However, in order for you to know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins—’ then he said to the paralytic: ‘Get up, pick up your bed, and go to your home.’” (Matthew 9:2-6) So sin is the cause of sickness and death. Our inherited sinful condition originated with the first man, Adam.—Luke 3:38; Romans 5:12.
Why Did Jesus Die?
Jesus never sinned. Therefore, he did not deserve to die. By dying in place of us, Jesus paid the price of our sins. He said that his blood would “be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.”—Matthew 26:28.
Jesus also said: “The Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Jesus called the price he paid “a ransom” because it released others from death. Jesus also said: “I have come that they might have life and might have it in abundance.” (John 10:10) To understand the hope for the dead completely, we must also know about their present condition.
What Happens at Death?
When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died, Jesus described what happens at death. He said to his disciples: “‘Lazarus our friend has gone to rest, but I am journeying [to Bethany] to awaken him from sleep.’ . . . They imagined he was speaking about taking rest in sleep. At that time, therefore, Jesus said to them outspokenly: ‘Lazarus has died.’” Thus, Jesus made it clear that the dead are sleeping, unconscious.—John 11:1-14.
When Jesus resurrected him, his friend Lazarus had been dead for four days. Yet, the Bible records no comment from Lazarus about his experience during that time. While dead, Lazarus was unconscious and knew nothing.—Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; John 11:17-44.
What Is the Hope for the Dead?
The dead will come back to life with the prospect of living forever. Jesus said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his [Jesus’] voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.
This hope is an expression of God’s love. Jesus said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16; Revelation 21:4, 5.
For more information, see chapter 6 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach?*
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.