“Death Is Not a Period”

Death is one of the major elements within the Bible.

t was the death of Jesus of Nazareth which crushed the hopes of those who followed. Easter is not the happy chapter in our ongoing effort to hold cherished dreams. It’s not the next thing. Easter is the new beginning only God provides.

When the Gospel of Luke is finally ready to share the Easter miracle, it begins with the word “but.” Chapter 23 ends with the dead body of Jesus being wrapped and placed in a tomb. “But,” begins Chapter 24, “on the first day of the week, at dawn, the women came to the tomb and found it emp-ty.” But. However. Nevertheless. These are words which signal a sacred intrusion into death. The gospel pivots on a great “however.”

To say that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead is not to say that he simply has returned to his earthly life. Resurrection is not resuscitation. That life was gone. To say Jesus is risen from the dead is to say that God reached into that tomb, into history itself, lifting Jesus up to a new life. And to say that is to say that God will do the same for us.

The four gospels do not convey what exactly happened to Jesus in the tomb, but we can see what happened to his followers because of the sacred intrusion of God.

Paul’s teaching in Colossians 3:1-4 focuses on Christ’s exaltation at the right hand of God. Even here, Paul is less interested in how Jesus reached God’s right hand than in the declaration of the resurrec-tion in the lives of Christians. Paul maintains that those who die with Christ to this life are raised with him to a new life with God.

We also witness this resurrection quality in Peter whose faith changed from rejection to acceptance, from exclusion to inclusion, from a desire to remain apart to a willingness to be in solidarity with Gentiles. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, Peter now knows that “God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34).

We see what happened in countless lives of women and men today who are examples of extraordinary integrity in the midst of deceit, of dedicated service in a world of naked egocentrism, of patience and understanding in the face of violence, of forgiveness and reconciliation when experiencing personal violation.

Death could not keep Jesus down. And if we are joined with him, neither will it keep us down. We are the “Easter people” and our