Recently one of my friends lost her son to cancer. And while I can’t imagine the pain and heartache that she must be feeling, I do know the pain of death—death of a loved one, death of a relationship, death of a dream.
Death changes everything.
It has a way of wrapping itself around you and demanding more—more of your emotions, your joy, your peace, and your hope. Death is a jealous enemy, coming after you and all you cherish with no conscious.
No one likes death, and most people fear it. This is why I was blown away tonight when I read Mark 15:3-5: “The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” Faced with the sentence of death, Jesus refused to try to save himself. He faced death, fearless.
And then He died.
I don’t know what it must have been like to be one of Jesus’ followers. But I imagine that it had to be heartbreaking and baffling to see the man who had performed miracles, including raising people from the dead, killed. It must have been mind-bending and heart-numbing, especially for his disciples, for they had left everything (their homes, jobs, and families) to follow him, and for what?
They were crushed, and rightfully so. Who wouldn’t have been? I take some comfort in the disciples’ mourning Jesus death because it reminds me that grieving is one of the things that connects us to the rest of humanity.
But I can’t help but remember that the disciples mourning, although understandable, was in vain, for Jesus’ death was only temporary, just like He had told them it would be. He had predicted his death and resurrection to them, but they hadn’t understood what He had meant. And if they had, they wouldn’t have had to have mourned. Instead, they could have celebrated that his prophecy was being fulfilled!
(I do realize that not mourning someone’s death in anticipation of their resurrection is extremely difficult to do and potential grounds for committing someone to the crazy house, but isn’t that the point? Wasn’t Jesus trying to teach them (and us by extension) to have a new kind of faith—one that shatters our perceptions of life and death and ushers in a new way of being and thinking?)
My faith is strengthened as I reflect on this story. I can look at the dead things in my life and know that Jesus might want to resurrect them. I can know that death doesn’t have to rob me of my joy and hope. All I have to do is listen to see what Jesus is saying to me. Is He saying that the death is temporary? Is He saying that He will comfort me through the death?
This Good Friday, I am reminded that death is not always the end. It can be the beginning of seeing something miraculous.
Happy Death Friday!