He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:10 (NIV).
Jesus died for everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, whether we accept Him or not, so that we may spend eternity with Him. Dear unbelievers, read verse 10 again. Then have a nice day. No that isn’t smug: it’s a plea. It’s an invitation. It’s a statement of fact. It’s a mission statement. It’s a challenge. It’s a matter of life and death, both His and ours.
In reality, it’s almost unfair to talk about this verse apart from the ones immediately preceding and succeeding it; I encourage you to read both. Jesus died for us so that we don’t have to live in wrath, or anticipate God’s wrath. He did it knowing that this would be the best news humanity would ever receive: IF we chose to accept it.
Preachers are fond of (correctly) saying that Paul was the greatest missionary who ever lived. When you read his books again and again, you find that Paul easily, seamlessly mixes both practical and supernatural arguments for Christ. To him, the supernatural was matter of fact, an accepted thing. We of the ‘enlightened’ post-modern world seem to have a hard time believing that the supernatural is true (even though we don’t seem to have much difficulty thinking comic book movies are reflections of how we wish we could be).
That’s just now how things were with Paul, and with the people of his day. They had lived in the time of Jesus, seeing Him personally both before and after resurrection. They had witnessed miracles performed by Christ and by His followers. They lived in a world that accepted God (and gods) as facts, as part of the natural order; indeed, people of the first century more readily accepted divine creation than we did, and they lived in a time where science and logic ruled the public square even more so than now.
Yet, then as now, they still questioned, marveled, and wondered at how Paul could say the things he did and mean them. After all, people simply didn’t die and come back the way Jesus did. People then as now were skeptical, even hostile, to ideas that offended their sensibilities.
And yet, when all the skepticism quieted down, Paul’s words still stood, un-recanted and unchallengeable. This Jesus, murdered by Jerusalem and Rome together, died even for them so that even they might live in peace with Him forever. In a hostile world, Jesus’ words offered a better way, a fresh start. They’re truth to live and die by. It was, and is, truth to make us rise again.
For further reading: Romans 14:9, 2 Corinthians 5:15, 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Lord Jesus, only You could live and die for us. Thank You for Your selfless death and resurrection.