2 Corinthians 5:6-9
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:…
I. THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF WHAT DEATH IS.
1. The apostle is not here referring to the state of the dead, but to the act of dying. His language is more accurately, "willing to go from home, from the body, and to go home to the Lord." The moment of transition of course leads to a permanent state, but it is the moment of transition which is in view here. The Christian view of the act of death is that it is simply a change of abode.
2. The text suggests that to the Christian soul the departure from the one house is the departure into the other. The home has been the body; the home is now to be Jesus Christ. We know not how much separation may depend upon the immersing of the spirit in the fleshly tabernacle, but we know that, though here by faith souls can live in Christ, yet there shall come a form of union so much more close, all-pervading, as that the present union, precious as it is, shall be "absence from the Lord,"
3. Perhaps, in the bold metaphor of my text, there is an answer to the painful questions, "Do the dead know aught of what affects us here? and can they do aught but gaze on Him and love and rest?" If there is any analogy between the relation of the body on earth to the spirit that inhabits it, and that of Christ to him who dwells in Him, then it may be that, as the flesh, so the Christ transmits to the spirit impressions from the outside world, and affords a means of action upon that world. Christ may be the sensorium of the disembodied spirit, and the hand of the man who hath no other instrument by which to express himself. But be that as it may, the reality of a close communion and encircling by the felt presence of Christ, which will make the closest communion here seem to be obscure, is certainly declared in the words before us.
4. This transition is the work of a moment. It is not a long journey, of which the beginning is "to go from home," and the end is "to go home." But it is one and the same motion which, looked at from the one side, is departure, and looked at from the other is arrival. "There is but a step between me and death." Yes, but there is but a step between me and life. The consciousness of two worlds blends; the spirit is clothed upon with the house which is from heaven, in the very act of stripping off the earthly house of this tabernacle.
5. This transition obviously leads into a state of conscious communion with Jesus Christ. The dreary figment of an unconscious interval for the disembodied spirit has no foundation, either in what we know of spirit, or in what is revealed to us in Scripture. It is absurd to say of an unconscious spirit, clear of a bodily environment, that it is anywhere; and there is no intelligible sense in which the condition of such a spirit can be called being "with the Lord."
6. And that is all we know. Nothing else is certain but this, "with the Lord," and the resulting certainty that therefore it is well. It is enough for our faith, comfort, and patient waiting. Not only that great hope of the "body of His glory," but furthermore, "the earnest of the Spirit," ought to make the unwelcome necessity less unwelcome. If the firstfruits be righteousness and peace and joy of the Holy Ghost, what shall the harvest be?
II. THEREFORE THE CHRISTIAN TEMPER IS THAT OF QUIET WILLINGNESS AND CONSTANT COURAGE. There is nothing hysterical, morbid, overstrained, artificial. The apostle says: "I would rather not; but when I see what I do see beyond, I am ready. Since so it must be, I will go, not dragged away from life, nor clinging desperately to it as it slips from my hands, nor dreading anything that may happen beyond; but always courageous, and prepared to go whithersoever the path may take me, since I am sure that it ends in His bosom." There are other references of our apostle's substantially of the same tone as that of my text, but with very beautiful and encouraging differences. "I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth," etc. That is our model. "Always courageous," afraid of nothing in life, in death, or beyond, and therefore willing to go from home from the body, and to go home to the Lord.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: