Death Is Dying

April 17, 2017 at 5:15 am 2 comments


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Even as we celebrated Easter yesterday, it was difficult not to be burdened by the death we see around us every day.  This past Sunday, 44 worshipers lost their lives at St. George Church in Tanta and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, both in Egypt, when ISIS suicide bombers detonated themselves in the middle of these churches’ Palm Sunday worship services.  Closer to home, in San Bernardino, a man signed himself into an elementary school at the front desk and then proceeded to walk into the classroom where his estranged wife was teaching and fatally shoot her while also wounding two students, one of whom later died from the injuries he sustained.  After his shooting spree, he took his own life.  Then, of course, earlier this month, there were the sarin gas attacks by the Assad regime against his own people in northwestern Syria.  Death is all around us.

And this is why I am so glad we get to celebrate Easter.

The story of Easter is a story of many things.  It is a story of joy, as the people close to Jesus realize the man who they thought was dead has risen.  It is a story of fear, as the women who come to the tomb that first Easter morning encounter angelic beings who startle and scare them with their fantastic message.  But it is also a story of subversion.  It is a story of subverting all those who prefer death to life.

N.T. Wright explains the subversive nature of Easter well:

Who…was it who didn’t want the dead to be raised?  Not simply the intellectually timid or the rationalists.  It was, and is, those in power, the social and intellectual tyrants and bullies; the Caesars who would be threatened by a Lord of the world who had defeated the tyrant’s last weapon, death itself; the Herods who would be horrified at the postmortem validation of the true King of the Jews.[1]

In a world where terrorist attacks, school shootings, and chemical bombings instill fear into all who see and hear about them, the resurrection of Jesus reminds us that, in the words of the prophet, “no weapon forged against [us] will prevail” (Isaiah 54:17), even if these weapons kill us, for “the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us” (2 Corinthians 4:14).  A tyrant may kill us.  But God will raise us.  This is Easter’s promise.  And this is why it is so good to celebrate Easter at a time like this.  For Easter reminds us that even if this world full of death, we need not fear.  Christ has risen.  And because He has risen, we will rise.

Take that, death.

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[1] N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope (New York:  HarperOne, 2008), 75.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robert L Paoletti  |  April 17, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Pastor Zach,
    I appreciated this Easter blog more this year because this was the hardest Easter Sunday of my life. Our Pastor (Alan Coleman) passed away from complications of a weird blood disease on Wednesday and his funeral was conducted Sunday (Easter) Afternoon. Not only was he my Pastor, but he was my best friend for 10 years. Thank you for your words of faith and encouragement as always.

    Yours in Christ,
    Rob

    Reply
  • 2. Terry Beltz  |  April 18, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Zach, the opposite of love is fear. Easter is all about the image of God’s love in the face of the fear incited by evil. Well done!

    Reply

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