Just once I would like to see one of those stereotypical sidewalk-religious persons striding about inside a sandwich-sign with hand-scrawled words that read like this:
RESURRECTION IS COMING. ARE YOU READY?
Not “the end is coming.” Not “the apocalypse is coming.” Certainly not anything like “the Antichrist is coming” — which, judging from popular Christian end-times rhetoric, means that the Beast locking you out of the economy is a far worse fate than any suffering in Hell.
And maybe not even “Jesus is coming.” Only, Resurrection is Coming.
People hear “the end” or “apocalypse” and they will think Roland Emmerich disaster films, tabloids, liberal global-warming doomsaying, or perhaps the latest dystopian “long ago our Earth got nuked by aliens/disasters and now Will Smith and/or Tom Cruise returns to the wasteland” movie trailer. Even that may be more accurate than when people hear “Jesus” and think of any number of imaginary saviors (some slightly more Biblical than others).
But if you say “resurrection is coming,” that may just make people wonder.
Pop culture has many reflections of resurrection. By now hasn’t every comic hero died and come to life? (Summer-2012 film spoilers here:) Didn’t both Tony Stark in The Avengers and Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises “die” and “resurrect”? And in classic epic fantasy, of course, Aslan, Gandalf the White, and even Harry Potter “rose again.” Death and rebirth (or resurrection) are so embedded in people’s psyches that you do not even need to explain the concept when it recurs in a novel, film, or television series. Oh, and no one seems to tire of it.
Yet these fictitious “resurrections” of fantastic heroes have their limitations.
“Hallelujah, Christ arose!”
Even in fiction, few characters live forever after defeating death.
Harry Potter will eventually die a natural death.1 Gandalf the White goes to the Gray Havens.
Technically any of these heroes (with the exception of Narnia’s Christ-supposal Aslan) experience a metaphorical rebirth or something less than resurrection. If they do literally return to life, technically they are resuscitated, not resurrected.
Even Jesus, when raising Lazarus and parents’ children back from death, did not resurrect them. He returned them to life as a foretaste of the true resurrection, the future eternal life.
Any real-life human resuscitation, any fictitious passage from death to life, any reference to “resurrection” in boosted product sales or James Bond movie trailers — they all spring from the First and only true resurrection, and the only real and fixed resurrection so far.
Our only hope
“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.”
1 Cor. 15:13-14
Picture that. The Apostle Paul, who loved to preach about Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross for sinners, who insisted we should add nothing to the Gospel, clearly states that nothing matters, none of it us true, all that is overthrown if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead.
I love the truth that Christ suffered and died as the only perfect sacrifice for rebel sinners on Good Friday. But just as much I love the truth that He rose on Resurrection Sunday.
Does it ever seem to you like Christians emphasize Good Friday over Resurrection Sunday?
Or that if we do discuss resurrection, we limit this to Christ’s capital-R Resurrection?
Or if we do discuss human resurrection, we stop short of dreaming, even speculating on it?
Or if we do wonder about human resurrection, we little anticipate creation’s resurrection?
- Christ is risen.
- Humans are risen, and will rise.
- Creation itself will rise.
That is what this new four-part series will cover, starting next week with Christ is Risen.
What other fantasy-fiction resurrections are your favorites?
What did you grow up believing about Biblical resurrection?
- Or here is a sad thought: after all that he has been through, Harry as a Ministry Auror could fail to block a single deadly curse while conducting a simple dark-magic artifact raid. ↩