Following Jesus in Death & Resurrection (Part 1)

deathresurrectionsm.jpgThroughout this Lenten season, as I've anticipated the coming of Easter, I have been thinking much about death & resurrection. I have been thinking about how the death and resurrection of Jesus are a symbolic example for us to follow and how it relates to community life within the "The Symbol Communities".

What I am realizing is that death is all around us. I am not trying to be morbid on this one, but it's true. Things are coming to an end all around us. People die. Pets die. Jobs die. Plants in our gardens die. Phases of life die. Businesses die. Dreams die. Our favorite restaurants eventually die. Churches die. Great friendships die. All this happens everyday of our lives. We think of death as a morbid event that we avoid talking or thinking about. But we can't escape it.

With this in mind, what does the Easter story, the narrative of Jesus beating death to live again, have to do with our experience? I think that as those who follow Jesus, we must consider a few things:

1.) For there to be resurrection, there must first be death. Death prepares the way for change and it always leaves us different people. A young couple who has their first child both mourns a quiet and simple existence of just the two of them and simultaneously celebrates a new "family" life of three. A professional who gets laid off mourns the loss of job and financial security, but also finally finds space to pursue dreams of his own business or a new, better job. It is the pain of death that prepares us to see the beauty of resurrection.

2.) In light of the complete story (death AND resurrection), there's much to hope for. As followers of Jesus, we know how the story ends. Those who journeyed alongside of Jesus, his family and his friends, didn't have this luxury. We know his death through the light of his resurrection. In his death, we see his purpose and intention. We realize the necessity of it all. But in those moments of his death, those at the foot of the cross had to be confused and deeply pained. They had to be experiencing both a confidence that Jesus knew what he was doing, as well as a worry that something was wrong in the whole scene. Doesn't that describe us as we travel through the depths and darkness of death in our lives. We wrestle with faith and doubt, confidence and insecurity. But we know how the story ends. Jesus' tomb after three days was indeed empty. And as his life on Earth ended, a new life began. He was alive. As we pass through symbolic deaths in our lives, in the midst of the pain, we need to remember that a resurrection is just around the corner and we need to wait and watch for it.

I recently mentioned to a friend who is expecting his first child that if we recognized these deaths and resurrections we experience throughout life, maybe we could follow Jesus more closely within them. We could appreciate the future despite the pain of the past. We could worship and thank God for the "resurrection" he has waiting for us, even though the darkness we feel is great.

I want to explore the idea of following Jesus in death and resurrection in a series of posts. I would love your comments along the way to help shape the exploration. From here, I want to explore the humanity of Jesus in his last few days (which I will tackle in the next post), what it means for us to follow Jesus into death, and what it means for us to follow Jesus into resurrection – all with this post in mind – that we go through deaths and resurrections all the time.

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