After the drama and excitement of Holy Week and the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord, we ponder anew what this will all mean for a world still fighting destructive forces with destructive forces. In he middle of human history God raised someone (Jesus) from the dead. The first proclamations of the apostles now contained these very words, “this man (Jesus) whom you crucified and killed, …God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power” (Acts 2.23-24).
Are we, with Thomas, still poking around these bodies of death trying to make sense of what this means? We have heard it said, and we read in Romans, “that the wages of sin is death.” But Jesus dies, not as the wage for sin, but as the living one who takes out of the shadow of death and dies a deathless death.
We talk about the doctrine of original sin, that is, choosing control and power above life and trust. So the preoccupation with trying to escape, avoid, even survive death, has obsessed how we have lived, and continue to live our human lives.
Jesus, by entering into death, sinlessly, freely, willingly albeit painfully, did so knowing that death had no power over him, only life. Jesus lived, as it were, disregarding death, “though he dies, he lives!”
When we are trapped in our preoccupation with death, our practices of control, of discipline, of power and force are the ways by which we will seek to resolve things. The use of deterrents and threats are blunt indeed.
But for the truth of the resurrection the victims and casualties of such instruments of death die in vain. The resurrection raises all these with Jesus into the forgiving mercy of God and they are justified, honoured, validated before the presence of the God who lives for evermore.
I have deliberately used some of Christian language here to emphasise the very giveness of life. Life is not fought for or earned, but is given.
We receive gracefully, amazingly, surprisingly.