Archive for February 9th, 2008

You Shall Surely Die

Saturday, February 9th, 2008

Today’s Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 (NRSV) (The Message) out loud if possible.

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Tyler Connoley):

Yesterday, I presented one way that I believe Jesus helps us get past the problems we face as people who have eaten from The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: Jesus helps us know how to do good more consistently. I also said that Jesus is not unique in his ability to teach us God’s Wisdom. Today, however, I want to talk about a unique way that Jesus helps us.

Of all the creatures who live on the earth, we appear to be the only ones who keep track of time. We are the only ones knowledgeable enough to notice anniversaries and birthdays. When September 11th arrives each year, the pigeons in Central Park don’t shudder, but the people do. Our dogs haven’t noticed that the oldest dog in the house was only fifteen when she died, and they don’t think, “I’m seven. That’s middle age. I may only have a few good years left!” However, we humans have certainly noticed that we’re pushing forty.

Death is one of our great dilemmas as people who have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. We are all afraid of death, and yet we all have the knowledge that it is inevitable. It is the specter that haunts our days and nights, the end that we all try to avoid although we know we never will.

This is why Christ’s resurrection is such a potent symbol of hope for us, and why Paul saw it as key to the message of Christianity. Christ can free us from our deepest fear.

I don’t think it matters whether you believe Jesus rose from the dead with a body that ate and drank (like Luke’s account), or whether you believe the risen Christ was a shining Spirit of light (like the one who met Paul on the road to Damascus). What gives me hope is that I know Christ rose from the dead. As Paul says, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.”

All of the earliest testimonies agree that the crucifixion was not the end of Jesus.

Imagine the hopelessness that must have overcome the earliest disciples after their teacher, the man who brought them God’s Wisdom, was killed by the powers of evil. After the fact, his death seemed inevitable. How could one so good not be overcome by evil? And, knowing this, how could they expect anything else for themselves? The world seemed more doomed than ever, so they went and hid.

And yet, these men and women who began as completely demoralized people, were energized to carry the “good news” to everyone they knew! How is that possible? I believe they were energized by the hope they found in encountering their teacher risen from the dead.

In Jesus, God made it known to them that death is not the end. Whatever evil things humans may do, God will transform them into good. This is the message of hope that overturns what we think we know about good and evil and death. Resurrection is real, and death is not the end.

Thought for the day: Are you afraid of death? Reread Matthew 28, Luke 24, John 20-21, and Acts 1-2. The earliest disciples were certain of the resurrection, and we can trust the One who raised Jesus from the dead.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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