“Without death, there is no resurrection.”
It was just one line from a sermon I heard last week, but it struck a chord. Without death, there is no resurrection. It’s a timely thought in this Easter season. As we prepare our hearts for Easter, we anticipate the glory of the resurrection. And yet there is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. We have to walk through death to get to the resurrection.
Our culture fights against reminders of death, pushing creams and vitamins and diets that hold fleeting promise of a few more moments of youth. But we can’t escape it. Our lives are imbued with the subtle fragrance of death. Not just physical death, but the subtler griefs that mark our transitions and boundaries. We celebrate graduation and mourn the empty nest. A new mother cherishes her infant but still grieves the loss of the freedom of her pre-baby life. We rejoice in a new move and are still homesick for the friends we left behind. We grieve unfulfilled hopes and abandoned dreams. Each season of life comes only through crossing from one stage to another. Even as we step forward into new spaces and adventures we grieve the doors that close behind us. We have to walk through death to get to new life.
Jesus’ words to Martha at Lazarus’ grave still apply.
“Take away the stone,” he said.
“But Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:38-40).
Lazarus had to walk through death to be raised to life. So do we. When we face death in our lives–physical death, death of a season, death of a dream–we have to recognize it for what it is and give ourselves permission to grieve. Jesus wept with Lazarus’ sister Mary in her grief, knowing full well that Lazarus would soon be walking out of his tomb. Death demands grief. And yet if we look closely we can see the glimmer of dawn over the horizon. It may be Friday, but our Sunday is coming.
We are a resurrection people. Our Lord conquered death with his death and he continues to bring life into our dead and dying places. His Spirit imbues us with life that we may be life-givers in a dying world (John 7:38; Ezekiel 47:1-12). Where there is death there is hope of resurrection life.
Where are you experiencing death today? Do you mourn the death of a season or a dying dream? Don’t lose hope. Look ahead. It may be that you’re walking through death to get to your resurrection.
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