THE CREATIVE POWER OF GOD
“DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” (1 COR 15:54–55)
God is so powerful that He was able to take the ugliest and worst part of human existence and made it beautiful. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates this. In the resurrection of Jesus, God took the worst thing about human existence (death) and used it to bring about the best thing about human existence (incorruptible life). God made death, the nemesis of life, and used it as an instrument to create new and everlasting life. God used death as his instrument to bring about a quality of life that brokenness, sickness, hatred, violence, and death doesn’t know. In the resurrection of Jesus, God made a mockery out of death.
I don’t mean that there should be no sadness or mourning in death. Even Jesus cried when he learned of Lazarus’s death (John 11). In this, Jesus models for us that death is a very unnatural thing. God never intended death when He created the universe. No matter how often it happens, we never get used to death. The pain of losing a loved one is evidence of how unnatural it is.
I also don’t mean that God likes it when people die or suffer (sadism). If that were the case, we would not have the commandment not to kill. It would also fly in the face of the reality that God created humanity in His image, which is the foundation for the sanctity of life.
What I do mean, however, is that through death Jesus brings redemption and new life to the world. The world doesn’t need to be healed; it needs to be reborn. The world’s disease is terminal. The tragedy of human history is that no matter how advanced we become, or how much progress is made, we all die. Even with all the money and energy that we spend on healthcare, none of it saves lives (it does prolong life, however, which is a good thing). The same percentage of people die today that died before modern medicine and technology: one hundred. That’s one of the interesting facts about war-time versus times of peace. We all know that times of peace are better, but in the end, times of peace do not prevent people from dying. Death is unbeatable. In this world, death reigns. How tragic.
There’s Good News, however. There is One over whom death does not reign, and that One invites us to partake in his everlasting life through faith.
In the resurrection, Jesus took back the throne of the creation. For Jesus and those that partake in fellowship with him through faith, Christ, not death, is King. In Jesus, death is no longer terminal. In Jesus, death is no longer The Problem, but The Solution. Because of Jesus, death is the door of hope through which we pass to enter into new life.
In sum, for those in Jesus have a historically and empirically grounded hope of rebirth. We live with a faith that the same Holy Spirit that brought Jesus back to life will also bring us back to life. Thankfully, this resurrected life is a life that is drastically different than this tragic one that we all know. This resurrected life is a life that knows no pain, no sorry, no grief, no morning, no terminal illness. This life is a that that has not been corrupted by sin and human rebellion against the King.
If God can transform death to life, then imagine what he can do in our circumstances. Imagine what he can do not only in our circumstances, but in our very character. When God does the sort of thing he does at Easter, it makes the command to “Be perfect” tenable.
God is able. God is able to recreate meaning. God took that which symbolized rebellion, crime, suffering, and death, and make it the most famous symbol of hope to the world: the cross.
Dr. Matt Ayars