This post originally appeared as an article in Faith’s Foundations, the monthly newsletter of Faith Lutheran Church in Three Lakes, WI.
A friend of mine relays an amusing exchange she had with her son just a few days ago. “I’m trying to teach him about Easter. I have no children’s story books to help out. When I was done he literally says, ‘So, Jesus is a zombie.’ Epic parenting fail.”
What happens to our bodies after death has always been a bit of an obsession for human beings. Legends from all across the globe speak of various kinds of undead creatures such as vampires, zombies, Frankenstein’s monster, draugrs, ghouls, liches, mummies, and wights that terrorize the living as formerly-dead bodies now raised back to some semblance of life. You could almost claim that we are more afraid of our bodies once they are dead than when they are alive. We don’t like to see corpses, let alone touch them. We shield our children from the “horrors” of a funeral.
Imagine the surprise, and even the horror, of the disciples when they hear from the mouth of the women the good news of Jesus’s resurrection (which incidentally makes these women the very first Apostles). People die—they don’t come back to life after that. That’s not the way things work. Was it the beginning of the end? Was the zombie apocalypse upon them?
When they finally get to see Jesus, living again from the dead, they don’t react with much joy at first. The disciples are “terrified”, Luke tells us, because they think they’re looking at a ghost. Even when they realize it’s him, it’s really and truly him, in their joy they still don’t entirely believe that Jesus is back with them, that he has been raised from the dead.
I think our reactions to the resurrection and new life are the same. In our baptisms, we die and are raised to new life, new people, new selves. How do we react? With horror? With terror? With surprise? With joy? Death is supposed to be the end, and our old selves died. What are we supposed to do now, with this new life we have, this resurrection in Christ Jesus?
Why, we are to live it of course! How easily we forget that life in a resurrection world is supposed to be lived fully and completely. In the resurrection Jesus was neither shade nor ghost, nor a lesser self than he was before he died. No, he was alive! This is the promise of God through Jesus Christ passed onto all of us: that we who were dead in sin are alive now in Christ. We who are put to death in baptism are raised to new life in Christ, a full, whole, complete life that just begs to be lived.
This Easter season, I invite you to live! As the letter to Timothy says, “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called!” We are a resurrection people who loudly proclaim:
“Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again! Alleluia!”