Ask what figure symbolizes death in our culture and most likely you’ll hear a description of a specter whose glowing eyes peer through a black-hooded shroud, while its bony hand clutches a scythe ready to harvest men’s souls.
Every culture has its “Grim Reaper.” Yet, though many people fear death, Jesus made a comment that should comfort Christians.
In the account of the invalid beggar Lazarus and the rich man, Jesus said Lazarus was “carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” upon his death (Lk. 16:22). Paradise, or “Abraham’s bosom” as Jewish people called it, was a place of blessing and establishes that Lazarus was among the righteous after he died.1
Interestingly, Hebrews 1:14 describes angels as “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation.” In accordance with God’s will, they minister to Christians by protecting us from harm, affecting answers to our prayers, and attending to us at the moment of our deaths (Ps. 91:10–12; Lk. 16:22; Acts 12:5–16).
Though there is no shortage of opinion as to why angels might care for believers at the time of death, the Bible is silent on the subject. Yet we are assured of this: Christians have no reason to fear the “Grim Reaper.” According to Jesus, angels commissioned by God Himself will usher us into the very presence of Christ.
- Darrell L. Bock, Luke, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 2.1368.