Jesus wisks me up the tunnel. I can feel the heat of hell growing away from us. I smell fresh air as we climb higher towards the light. Heaven…what will it be like? But wait, I don’t deserve Heaven. I asked for forgiveness before I died, so I don’t deserve hell either, do I?
My feet touch down. I can breathe again! But…the streets of gold are dirt.
How can this be? I’m looking around at the trees and blue sky when suddenly a loud bang rips through the sky and the ground under my feet shakes violently. I hold out my arms to steady myself, finding jesus’ arm, I grip tightly until the shaking is done. Just as I relax and get my footing, two women come running toward us. Just as they get close to us, the women stop and drop to their knees at Jesus’ feet. “Jesus, you’re alive!” they exclaim. Jesus looks down at them, smiles compassionately and says calmly, “Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there they see me.” The women get up, still astonished, and turn and run with great joy.
I rattled off a barrage of questions, “Who were those women? Where are we? Is this Heaven?” Jesus lifts his chin toward a rocky cliff, nudging me to look as well. I see a cave with a large rock rolled away from the entrance. Jesus says…”That is where they buried my body. The tomb is empty because I have conquered death. I am alive. See the scars on my hands.” He raises his hands for me to see. He goes on, “I took you on this journey with me to see that when you decide to follow me, you die like I died. The old you is dead. Because I hold the keys to death, hell and the grave, you now can talk to me and repent to me. My blood that was shed covers your sins. ALL your sins. That moment when you were feeling all of that unbearable pain, you apologized and I forgave you. You must now forgive yourself. Look at me, my child.” I realize I have had my head down in shame all the while he was speaking. I raise my head. As I look upon Him, I see a sight never soon forgotten. He is holding chains, ropes, and shackles. There are thousands upon thousands that he is holding up above his head. I blink. All the chains are gone except two, which he’s holding up to me.
He says, “These are your chains and shackles that were bound to you. Your sins and your crimes. They are gone and never to be remembered again.” He tosses them miles away with a flick of His wrist. “The old you is dead; dead I tell you. You are free my child. You are a new person, resurrected from the dead as I am this day. I love you. Even when you were in the very act of your crimes, I loved you. Go my child, and sin no more.” He turned then and walked up the road. I imagine He was on His way to Galilee.
I feel myself floating, but this time I’m floating in water. There are hands behind my back helping guide me up…I break through the surface of the water, stand on my feet and shout a shout of praise and triumph! I am baptized! I am new and I am forgiven!
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:3-11