He had to rise

April 24, 2014

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am taking the good news today from John 20:9-10.

For they did not yet understand the scripture that he had to rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned home.

All of life is a continuity. All through the gospels Jesus took care to connect for his listeners the word of God in the Hebrew Bible with his mission as fulfillment of his Father’s word. God was one and the same in all time. He was always the God who had chosen his people and loved them as His children. He was always the God of love and His Son Jesus was the embodiment of that love.

I have a hard time seeing life as a continuity. I tend to demarcate time between before and after, between old and new, between then and now. John had seen the empty tomb and believed; Peter had seen it and was perplexed. It seems to me that John represents the heart of man and Peter the mind. However, neither seemed to understand that scripture — the word and promise of God — stipulated that Jesus must rise from the dead. It was all one continuous stream of God’s love for us — before His Son’s incarnation, during his life, and in his death and resurrection. It’s difficult for my dualistic mind to understand that. When I can’t understand something I revert to my habitual way of thinking; I return home to the way I’ve always thought about it.

It’s always been hard for me to grasp God’s love in Jesus’ death. Death is separation, loss, nothingness. What Peter and John had to learn was that God’s love has no beginning or end; it always has been and ever will be. It does not begin with conception or birth nor end with death. Death simply denotes the time I will be reunited fully and forever with God’s spirit. Scripture tells me that God is in me and that I am in God. I always have been and always will be, which is why I will rise from the dead into God’s spirit. So, death is not to be feared but rather to be embraced. That’s what I have come to understand about Jesus’ death and resurrection.



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