A simple but profound reminder from John 5 on this Friday morning: God is the anti-death.
Jesus has been questioned (my translation actually says “harassed”) by some religious leaders for asking him to “take up his mat and walk” after healing him. Carrying a mat was considered “work,” and so was forbidden on the Sabbath. In giving his reasoning for what he did and what he would continue to do, Sabbath or not, Jesus says, in verse 21, “As the Father raises the dead and gives life, so too does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.”
God is in the business of raising dead things to life. In places where death seems to have won a victory, God makes life happen. God is the anti-death.
This is not only physical death, but spiritual death, emotional death, relational death; any place where something appears dead, death does not have the final say. For those who feel spiritually dead, dry, or disconnected death does not have the final say. For those who feel emotionally dead, numb, and empty, death does not have the final say. For those who feel like a relationship is dead, hopeless, and beyond repair, death does not have the final say. God is the anti-death.
This also goes beyond our own personal experiences of death. If God is the anti-death, and if Jesus follows suit and “gives life to whomever he wishes,” and if followers of Jesus are supposed to follow his teaching, then we need to oppose death in all of its forms. These might include cultural forces, societal attitudes and expectations, or political systems or beliefs (on both sides of the political spectrum.)
If God is the anti-death, what is dead in me that can be raised to life again?
If God is the anti-death, what are the social, cultural, interpersonal, or political ideologies that I need to oppose?
These are not easy questions to answer. But I suppose bringing dead things to life isn’t an easy thing to do either.
God, raise the dead parts of me to life, and give me the courage to oppose death in all its forms wherever I might see it.