Death isn’t a joking matter, but the word dying has found its way into our vocabulary as a common form of exaggeration. Do you ever say, “I’m dying to get home and take a hot shower”? Maybe you’re feeling weary at work, so you exclaim, “I’m dying to take a vacation,” or “If the boss gives me one more assignment this week, I’m going to die!” We even use such dire hyperboles to describe our food preferences. Ever hear kids say, “I’m dying for some pizza,” or adults insist that the chocolate cake is “to die for”?
Years ago when my son was 4 years old, I took him with me to run errands on a cold snowy day. I was driving an old car that had an aging battery. After we stopped at a bank and returned to the parking lot, I turned the car’s ignition key, but the engine growled weakly and refused to start. Frustrated, I pounded my fist on the dashboard and loudly exclaimed, “Oh no, the car is dead!” As soon as he heard those words, my son began to cry. In retrospect, “The car is dead” probably wasn’t the best way to tell a literal-minded 4-year-old what was happening, so I tried to reassure him. I had some jumper cables in the trunk, so I said, “Don’t worry, Matt. It’s OK. I’m going to jump the car, and everything will be all right.” Now Matt’s tears turned to laughter. He thought it would be funny to see his dad jump the car, though in his childlike mind, he had no idea why a person jumping over a dead car would suddenly make it start!
Just as children struggle to comprehend their parents, sometimes we don’t fully understand our heavenly Father, but he knows what he’s doing. Christ is the author and finisher, the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the end—the creator of life and the giver of hope when life on earth concludes. We need to view life’s mysteries through eyes of faith, as Abraham did, who considered it reasonable to believe that the one who created life in the first place “could even raise the dead” (Hebrews 11:19).
Longing for Hope
Why does the resurrection of Christ remain so relevant to us day after day, year after year? Because our hearts long for purpose and hope, now and forevermore. The cross is Jesus’ way of saying, “I’m dying to give you those very gifts!” It’s his way of reassuring us, “I’m dying to save you. I’m dying to forgive your sins. I’m dying to ensure that death doesn’t have the last word. I’m dying to show you the extent of the Father’s love. I’m dying to restore you to God’s family.” And the resurrection is Jesus’ way of saying, “I’m living to give you new life.”
We are residents of a dying planet, walking down a path that slopes steadily and irrevocably toward the grave. There is only one way of escape, and that’s through Christ, who on the cross was dying to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15). Now he “always lives to intercede” for us (Hebrews 7:25). Hallelujah, he is risen indeed!
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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