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The end and the beginning of Easter

April 21, 2011 3 Comments

by Peggy Pedersen

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die (John 11:25-26). Do you believe this?”

The thing about death is the regrets. Both the dying and the bereaved regret the time not spent with loved ones, the lost opportunities, the talents wasted, the loving words not said, and the hurtful words said…. And we cannot undo any of it. Sometimes people say, “…if I had it to do over, I would…” but there is no do-over. Not only is reincarnation a lie, but it would not be of any real benefit. We would again be born into bodies condemned by original sin, only adding to our already immense tally of sins as we engaged in our futile pursuit of “happiness.”

For those who fear the “End of the World,” the apocalypse, our own death is the end of the world for us, our own apocalypse. It is final; it is inevitable; it is total destruction; and given our own personal rebellion against our Creator, our worship of ourselves as god in opposition to Him, our use of others for our own benefit, it is well-deserved.

And so the story has gone since the dawn of humankind. Until…

A new Adam was born. Unlike the first Adam who was created in the image of God, the new Adam is God, Himself, incarnated into our flesh. Jesus the Christ. And He came to die our death, united with our sin, to suffer our own separation from the Father and to take our hell. The deathless One, the eternal, the holy, righteous One, against Whom we had railed accusations of the unfairness of our plight, and blamed as creator of a cruel world, stepped into time and, clothed with our flesh and sin, took all the wrath of God and man upon Himself, giving all He had to give to the very last drop of blood and the very last cry of departing breath—for us, for me, for you.

He faced the fear of death, that He might remove it for us. He did not blithely go to His crucifixion with some false idea of embracing “death as a friend.” He knew the reality of death and its terrors. He knew death as the ultimate enemy. His suffering was real—physically, mentally, and spiritually. His death was real—as real as the blood and water that poured from His pierced side, as real as the limp, bloodied and bruised body taken down from the cross and borne to a borrowed tomb.

Yet, unlike all the other deaths of man, His did not end with regrets, but with resurrection. And by it, He has removed our regrets as well—even the years “the locust has eaten.” For He has conquered death so our death will no longer be the end of all good for us. He has made a way through that valley that no longer leads to our destruction but to the marriage feast of the Lamb.

To those who do not acknowledge sin as the condition of all humankind, the body of our Saviour hanging on the cross is a horrible offense that must be removed lest it scare people away—away from seeing our own condemnation without Him. Those of sentimental pseudo-piety object to the crucifix because of the torture and violence it depicts—for all they see there is death. But for those who believe in the resurrection of Jesus, the crucifix depicts our High Priest making the once, pure and efficacious offering before the throne of God of His own blood for our forgiveness and reconciliation.

In accepting that offering, the veil of the Holy of Holies is torn apart forever giving us access through Christ to God our Father. This is the moment where all the sin of the fallen world is judged and declared “finished.” His forgiveness is complete. All our past, all our present and all our future is washed in His blood. All is redeemed.

For those bathed in the waters of Holy Baptism, who partake of His life-giving Body and Blood in Holy Communion and hear His Word forgiving their sins in Absolution, the resurrection of Christ is the assurance of eternal life in Him. Whether we die today, tomorrow or after many years, our lives are in His hands and we are His. He will not leave us or forsake us. Baptized into His death and resurrection we are the re-born children of God. Alleluia!

Peggy Pedersen is a freelance writerand a member of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Victoria, B.C.

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  • Nice article. No one should believe others feelings. Death is the most harmful one. We are not ready to face it but one day, we all should face it.

    • Peggy Pedersen

      No matter how much we put death out of our minds, it comes to us all. Only one man has conquered death and He alone can give us eternal life: “3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Rom. 6:3,5,8,11