Anticipating Renewal: Death and Life in Tension

We stopped off to take a break. I decided to take the moment to tell the others again about what is going to happen next. I feel like I’ve said it before, maybe as we are walking up to the place it might register more. I don’t think they understand what I’m really trying to express and the real impact this is going to have.

“Hey guys,” I gathered their attention. They seemed like they needed the short break.

“Look, do you see that city over there? We are almost there.” Pointing off at the city in full view.

“Just to remind you all, when we get into the city, the Son of Man will be turned into the authorities and they will charge him with the death penalty. Then they will turn him into the official government authorities, where he will be physically tortured. Additionally, he will have to die the same way many others have experienced the death penalty, the humiliation of being strip to nothing, exposed and hung onto a wooden cross by one’s own limbs. When he dies, his final breath gone, pale physical body still cold to the touch even after three days, he will come alive and continue living.”

Matthew 20:17-19 (Paraphrased)

This is one of the most direct accounts of Jesus laying it all out for the disciples, and this definitely wasn’t the first time. The funny thing is that the disciples were the people who knew Jesus the most! They saw his ministry in the most intimate ways. The disciples were Jesus’s roommates, students, coworkers and friends. Yet, Jesus’s words, thoughts and feelings were never fully understood by the disciples.

Jesus has known from the beginnings of his ministry that he was going to experience all these things. He knew death was coming for him. He has already processed His own death, even the way He was going to die. It sounds morbid to think about this, but is it really that far-fetched from our current situation now? Have you taken a moment to think about physical death and the loss of your own life in the middle of this pandemic?

Here in the Western world, we act like we can live forever. Or we believe that we can avoid or put off death for as long as we can. Thanks to technology, for the most part, we are able to do that. But is that realistic and can we really continue thinking or living like that? How about now, as we scramble for a vaccine or antibiotics? Death can scare us. The death of friends, siblings, parents, co-workers and someone you’re connected to might scare you even more.

What do we do when we are going through hard things? What do we do when no one really understands what we are processing?

Why is Jesus’s death and Resurrection a good message?

Death didn’t scare Jesus, he was prepared and ready for it. What kept Him from despair? Knowing He would lose His life or hoping He could live just another year or two, how did He follow through with His death? We miss the big picture in Christianity because we tend to sum up the “Good news” into a cute phrase, that Jesus came to die for your sins and rose again so that you could be save and have new life and a personal relationship with Him.

Good news can only be “Good,” when the brokenness is so bad that you long for something better. Because you are tired of the pain, suffering and death. It just hurts too much. In the middle of hard times what breaks despair? A really Good Message that says, “I hear you, it won’t be like this for long,” or “I see you, it will hurt a bit but you will soon be healed.” And, “I am with you through this and I will continue to be that Goodness in your life.”

Jesus follows through with the pain and suffering that led to His death, because His “Good news” was that He would not stay dead, but continue living. He was able to bear through the hard things knowing there was something better and that it was worth it.

Because of Jesus’s deep faithfulness through the pain, we get to experience the Goodness in the midst of the brokenness around us. Jesus’s resurrection is the embodiment of a new life created through restoration of the broken life.

So then, What is life now?

To really live, we have to make room for the new things to come. That means something must go or leave to make space for the good. You might need to mourn something in this season before you experience the fullness of something good that Jesus is doing in you. As you continue this week, reflect and observe Jesus’s life, death and resurrection during Holy Week.

Published by aaivuw

An Asian American family at the UW-Madison learning to follow Jesus and sharing his love in our community and beyond.

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