What Happens When You Die?

What happens after you die? I’m not asking about resurrection. Believers in Jesus know that there will certainly be a resurrection of the dead. That’s also one of the fundamental beliefs of Judaism. But the state of the dead until the resurrection seems a little murky.

Too bad we can’t interview the twelve-year-old girl from Capernaum, the young man from Nain, Lazarus of Bethany, or Tabitha of Joppa: “What did you see? Do you remember anything from beyond?” But we don’t need to go back to Bible times. Many people alive today claim to have endured death and returned to life. Such an event is called a near-death experience (NDE). Is there any truth to such reports?

Here’s the premise of an NDE. A person undergoes clinical death. All neurological activity stops, but then, somehow, the person revives. The brain reboots. Medically speaking, while the brain flatlined, the person should have been entirely unconscious: no dreams, thoughts, memories, or awareness—not until the neurons started firing again and brain activity resumed. A significant percentage of people, however, recall extraordinary phenomena: leaving their bodies, feeling a sensation of peace and bliss, being greeted by departed relatives, traveling through a tunnel toward a divine light, seeing heavenly fields with indescribable colors, encountering divine beings (often Jesus himself), undergoing a life review, experiencing a sense of transcendent oneness with all things, and sometimes even entering the divine presence of God.


First Fruits of Zion