“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, July 18, 2008

Death and Resurrection, Part I

In many of my posts I have written about the theme of Christ’s death and resurrection, an event that is highly significant in many different ways. First and foremost, it is an event ordained, orchestrated, and carried out by God, and he is in every way the central character, “the Alpha and Omega in this affair of redemption” (Jonathan Edwards, Essay on the Trinity). It is the mysterious event at the center of God’s story, his great victory over evil, and reality itself, the climax of redemptive history and the cornerstone behind all the beautiful truth of the gospel, and through it God is most fully revealed in all his wisdom and power. Some may think the message of the cross is foolish or even offensive, and it may seem so on the surface – the whole idea of life through death is certainly counterintuitive – but the cross of Christ is filled with the rich beauty of paradox. There are so many diverse and contrasting facets of what was done on the cross, and that makes it all the more powerful and beautiful as a single, cohesive event. The idea of death and resurrection in general is a theme that finds its way into all kinds of stories, from numerous ancient pagan myths and legends to recent popular films and novels. Finally, it is the cornerstone of our faith, the linchpin and foundation of all we believe. Without death and resurrection, Christianity would crumble and die.

Clearly we witness in the cross of Christ something enormously significant – it speaks to our hearts and minds in many ways, and for many reasons it is essential that we understand it and know what it means. But the power of Christ’s resurrection is so great that it is more than all this for those who believe in his name. Death and resurrection is a reality here and now – those who follow in Christ’s footsteps are not only to know it as fact, but to experience it and participate in it, living out the cross of Christ in our own lives. This theme saturates the entire New Testament.* Let’s take a look at what the Scriptures have to say about the death and resurrection of those who follow Christ…

*The theme of resurrection from death and joy rising out of mourning is present in the Old Testament as well, although in more veiled ways. God’s chosen people, the Israelites, turn away from God again and again and must face the punishment of justice again and again. But the prophets always keep an element of hope in the messages, even in the darkest times, when God’s people are in exile and his temple in ruins. They speak of redemption, saying that in the aftermath of judgment there may come a day when God breathes life into dead Israel and turns her grief into joy (for example, see Jeremiah 31). Isaiah foretells the coming of a suffering servant who will bring healing and salvation to Israel (Isaiah 53). There is always the glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel, and renewed hope for salvation and restoration sometimes springs to life out of the shadows. It is a hope founded on the faithfulness and saving power of God.

1 comment:

  1. I've been reading your articles. Love them. Love the name of your home page - Except a seed dies (Jn 12:24). What a beautiful way to express the death and resurrection. I love your thoughts on emotion as a primary avenue to truth. The mystery of Christ is revealed on this level. Mystery - from greek muo, our english mute comes from this word. Means unspoken - and that is the only way that a man can know that Jesus is the Christ, inaudibly revealed by the Spirit to our heart, not our intellect. We all yearn to see\hear\feel beauty. Muir called beauty a synonym for God, and rightly so, it is how we comprehend Him. If you look at stories which typify Christ's resurection, some form the word beauty is worked into the story line. Peter raises the damsel Tabitha from the dead in Joppa, which means beautiful. Christ raises the widow's son from the dead in ancient nain, which comes from the Hebrew root for beautiful. Peter heals the blind man at the temple gate Beautiful. Naomi and Ruth both mean beautiful in Hebrew. They are restored inheritance for their dead by their kinsman redeemer. How beautiful on the mount are those that bring the good news of the gospel (death and resurrection of the Lamb).

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