In our Christian culture, we refer to a human being as having a physical body and a soul. At death, the soul leaves the body and travels to heaven in hopes of meeting up with Jesus, who promised to prepare a room for us in his Father’s house. Yet, what our experience on “the other side” is going to be like has remained a mystery -- the great unknown.

For instance, is the soul a disembodied spirit? Or shall the soul have a body? In the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul responds to that very question, “How foolish! … There is a physical body, and there is also a spiritual body.”

Why does Paul speak with such authority about the afterlife? Well, in his letters, he claims to have had several mystical or paranormal experiences. Here is an inter-esting story revealed in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.

“I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows ... But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words.”

Did Paul have an out-of-body experience, an OBE? Or could it be that he had a near-death experience, an NDE. In either case, his retelling of the happening is not unlike the thousands of NDE’s reported in recent years
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The story-line goes something like this. They rise above, noticing the doctors striving to resuscitate their physical body below. Then they travel through a dark tunnel until they see a great light. Sometimes, deceased relatives appear to greet them or they have a life-review. Some are told they must return to earth -- others get to choose whether to stay or return.
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But the one thing that is almost always relayed is that the experience was indescribable. They try to impress the listener with the awesome love that permeates the realm -- an unconditional love so astounding, it can’t be described with words.

All four of the Gospels depict in great detail the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus – and a one-liner for the ascension. I wonder what took place in the tomb! Did the Master die? I mean, completely die -- the silver cord severed -- never to return to life.

I ask because medicine today continues to grapple with the death question. Sometimes, a patient is declared dead when the heart has stopped and there are no signs that the brain is functioning. However, the patient has entered into an unconscious state called a coma.  People can come out of the coma many days or weeks later

Today, doctors would say that Jesus was in a comatose state until his body had completely resuscitated. Jesus would be one of those people reporting on his NDE, commenting upon the indescribable love ... to those at his tomb-side.

Of course, the disciples had no knowledge of comas, though Jesus certainly did. Jesus was fully aware that he would return to physical life, and predicted the same to his disciples several times long before it happened. Would they not have been with him in the hospital-tomb holding a pray vigil for his healing? Would they not have celebrated when Jesus finally opened his eyes? Would they not have been amazed at Jesus words about his heavenly experience during the comatose state? But none of this is revealed in the Gospel stories – not significant, I suppose.
Did Jesus and Paul Have NDE's
Authored by Reverend Virgil Brewer at Unity Chapel
March 1, 2013