Death, Life and Easter


(Spectrumbot) #1

With the spring flowers out, leaves already on the trees, the woods filling with bluebells, and, at least in the UK, the sun warming up nicely for the Easter weekend, it is not a good time to talk about death—yet, sadly—death is what is on my mind.

A good friend, a vibrant young adult, lost her battle with cancer this last week. She was positive until the end, writing on her Facebook page just the day before she died that, "I'm not well enough for radiotherapy or more chemo so they want to send me home. But I'm not giving up. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and only God knows the future and I will fight in His arms."

Sadly, that struggle came to an end the next day and that same Facebook page then filled with hundreds of tributes to a life well lived—but ended much too soon.

It is a tragedy—one that has brought sadness to her family and many friends—yet one of just many stories that can be multiplied many times. One could even argue that in terms of world events, a death or two in my own family or circle of friends is not too significant. Nevertheless, for each individual, death is a personal tragedy.

So why am I sharing this burden with you over the Easter weekend? Well really, precisely because it is Easter. Amidst all the bunnies and chocolate eggs is the very specific thought that the Christian world is remembering an event, and a person, that really puts personal tragedy into perspective, and that turns a time of mourning into a time of hope.

To understand that story we have to go back earlier in the Gospels, to a strange scenario where a very good friend of Jesus lies on his deathbed—yet Jesus ignores the request to come and heal him. When, two days later, He does start the journey from across the Jordan up the steep road to Bethany, that friend, Lazarus, is dead. Dead and buried.

His sisters had lost hope—yet even in their despair Martha maintains a tiny spark, if not for now, at least for the resurrection day. It is at this point that Jesus makes an astounding assertion: "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." [ John 11:25-26 NIV]

Not only does He make the assertion, He then gives a foretaste of what resurrection is all about; bringing Lazarus out of the tomb; raising him back to life.

Yet while that day saw a party in Bethany, just three miles away in Jerusalem, there was plotting. The religious leaders who had blocked and spied on every move of Jesus ministry chose not to recognise the miracle working Messiah, the One who gave life. They did the opposite.

They planned death—the death of Jesus. A death that would change history. For when Jesus was arrested on the Mount of Olives, put through the mockery of a trial, beaten and tortured as only the Romans knew how, and hung on a cross to die in excruciating agony—what the religious leaders were in effect doing was fulfilling promises right through the Old Testament from Adam on. Promises that a Messiah would come, an Anointed One. A Messiah that would pay for all our mistakes by His own blood and that His death would break the curse of evil on this planet.

The Bible promises two kinds of death. The first kind—my friend experienced this last week. And many of us mourn her passing.

The second kind is actually a lot more serious. It is the death foretold in Genesis 2 where God warns Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree "or you will surely die".

This is a death from which there is no resurrection. Only oblivion. That is why the Bible calls it the second death. It is final. There is no comeback. It is the death that Jesus died on the cross.

Jesus, as the Messiah, as the Son of God, is the only One who could die that second death and still come back to life. And He did, on the Sunday morning, in resurrection splendour! And He could only do it because He was God become man, because as a man He fulfilled every expectation God had of Him and overrode every challenge that Satan threw at Him.

That submission to death on the Friday—that resurrection on the Sunday—is why I have the confidence to be positive in a time of sorrow. Jesus' conquering of death means that it is not the end for my friend. As Lazarus was raised—so will she be—along with millions of others. Personal tragedies turned into glorious victories.

Let me just share the hope that swells in my heart as I read from the Apostle Paul. 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16-18 [NIV]:

"We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him… For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words."

Adventist congregations around Europe will be sharing that hope this weekend, many of them holding special services. Others will be sharing that hope with the communities around them. I plan to be among them.

Article and photos by Victor Hulbert, communication director of the Trans-European Division. This article was originally published by the British Union Conference on April 22, 2011 and was re-published on the TED News Network on April 18, 2019.

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9564

(Leandro) #2

This is another example(or indication) that we Seventh-Day Adventist don’t really have the exact truth as we always assumed. The tomb was empty on that Sunday morning but it doesn’t mean Jesus rose to life that moment. If He died @ 3:00 in the afternoon, 3 nights and 3 days latter He would have risen @ 3:00 also in the afternoon. Since the tomb was already empty on that Sunday morning, Jesus rose @ 3:00 in the afternoon the previous day: Saturday. The crucifixion did not happen also on a Friday because if you count backwards from Saturday, it would fall on Wednesday. That Wednesday was Passover day and also a preparation day for sabbath, the next day: not the weekly sabbath because it was Thursday but because it was the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. That week and the week that followed, each have two sabbaths.


(Alice C ) #3

The people of the New Testament did not reckon days as we do. Nor in the Old Testament, for that matter. Partly because they didn’t really have clocks, so the daylight portion of the day was 12 hours of day and the dark portion of the day was 12 hours of night. So the third hour or 6th hour or whatever didn’t mean what it would to us today.

Also, in Bible times, the understanding was that “the part represents the whole.” This means that part of a day represented the whole day. So Friday was reckoned a day and so was Sunday, even though that makes no sense to us today.

Whenever we try to impose the thinking of our generation on Biblical people, we are in danger of misunderstanding how they thought or what they meant. Context is crucial.


(Caddy) #4

So Alice, does that go for creation week and the time that Jonah was in the fish too?


(Alice C ) #5

Probably for Jonah. Unwilling to have an opinion about Creation week. Mostly because, being God, they can do things and make things any way they decide they should be in whatever time frame(s) they want to. I refuse to try to place God into a box of my own making.


(Leandro) #6

I think, you are the one imposing your own thinking. 3 nights and 3 days is so clear, your "part represents the whole"is an excuse for misunderstanding. ( I apologize cadge 22. this is for AECW) (wrong quote) :fearful:


(Leandro) #7

I think, you are the one imposing your own understanding. 3 nights and 3 days is so clear, your “part represents the whole” will never make sense today or 2000 years ago.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #8

I can’t understand God. but I can thank Him and accept His invitation to come. Amazing Grace is a sweet sound. I read Romans as Luther did. The wedding garment is His not mine. That included the 144;000.


(Steve Mga) #9

Either we believe Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or we don’t.
“Christ is Risen! Christ is RISEN, INDEED!”
That is the message.
72 Hours is NOT the issue in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
when they were written a few years after the events.

Christians, who believed Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
were worshiping in SriLanka on Easter Sunday.
They became martyrs because of their beliefs by those
who did not believe in a friendly God.
They were Catholics — NOT SDAs. Many Coptic
worshipers have recently become martyrs because of
belief in Christ – NOT SDAs.
However, many SDAs were martyrs in Africa slaughtered
by some SDAs because they belonged to the wrong tribe.
YES! It does NOT take a Sunday Law to become a martyr
for Christ in this century.


(Caddy) #10

No sweat. I’m in agreement with you.


(David) #11

I think you mean first day of the week. I searched for Sunday and it was nowhere to be found! Zilch…nada. I wonder why???

Since Seventh-Day Adventists always insist on referring to the seventh day as Saturday, I propose a change to the name. Let’s call ourselves Saturday Adventists. It’s much more in line with the truth and without a hint of hypocrisy.

I would have to agree with you Leandro that SDAs don’t have the exact truth but they do have the crucifixion sequence right. You think the same way as the messianic Jews, jehovah witnesses, Iglesia de Dios, and others. I think it might be you, Leandro, who is mistaken.

Christ said, “it is finished” when He hung on the cross. He was entering into the weekly sabbath rest (“That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near”.). When you say Jesus was crucified on the 4th day of the week and in the grave on the 5th and 6th day, you take away the whole meaning of the sabbath day, which is a figure of death.

The sign of Jonah was for the wicked. Matt. 16:4. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Jesus was crystal clear to His inner circle of disciples saying that He would rise the third day. You are wrong to say a partial day was not counted as a whole day. See Luke 13:32:

And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ Thus today=6th day of the week, tomorrow=seventh day, third day=1st day.


(Leandro) #12

I don’t know where you get this idea of sabbath as a figure of death. Maybe from the consideradation that those who died were just sleeping. Anyway, how many nights and how many days are there from friday afternoon to sunday morning?


(David) #13

Rest has always been associated with death.

2 Kings 2:10: David rested with his fathers, and was buried in the City of David.

The sabbath is a day of rest, hence it is a figure of death. Christ fulfilled the meaning of the sabbath by being buried (resting in the grave) on the Sabbath day. We, by resting on the sabbath day, identify with His death. If you say Christ was raised on the sabbath day you take away from the message of the sabbath day. The sabbath rest is a weekly proclamation of our baptism into His death.

I have already answered your question by referring to what Christ said in Luke 13:32 Christ said the the sign of Jonah was for the wicked. A sign is not exact. We need to listen to what Christ taught His disciples.

And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’

Clearly “today” is counted as day 1 even though it isn’t defined as 24 hours, hence it can be a partial day. Tomorrow is counted as day 2. The third day, when He is perfected (raised from the dead), is counted as day 3 even though it isn’t defined as 24 hours. I’m not sure if I can be any clearer.


(Leandro) #14

I need more explanation.If Jesus was perfected according to you because he was raised from the dead on the third day, how can He be casting out demons on the first and second day? He was not even casting out demons on the day of the crucifixion. He died on the Passover day which was also a preparation day because the next day after the Passover was the first day of the feast of the unleavened bread which is also a sabbath. The probability that the first day of the feast of the unleavened bread falling on a weekly sabbath is only 1/7. I am not the one putting new meanings of the weekly sabbath.


(Robert Lindbeck) #15

“On the third day” versus “after three days”.


(David) #16

He cast out the prince of the demons (ruler of this world) on the day of His crucifixion.

John 12:31-33 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

Christ’s purposeful healing ministry on the Sabbath days was just a prelude to His healing mission for the human race on the Sabbath day after He was killed for our sins and buried on that day.

Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

The 1/7 probability is a pretty high probability. There are various interpretations on the meaning of the term high sabbath (or high day). I interpret it to mean, that weekly sabbath is a high sabbath because it coincided with the first day of unleavened bread which was a lunar sabbath.

John 19:31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

John implies the sabbath being referred to is the weekly sabbath by calling it “the” sabbath. The phrase, “that sabbath was a high day” also indicates this. I understand that the Passover had a preparation day but so does the weekly sabbath. Another argument in favor of this interpretation is, John doesn’t say, “that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the day of the feast”.

Another indirect argument for a crucifixion on the sixth day of the week is the fact that Adam was created on the sixth day of the week. Christ was slated to become the new Adam. He died as Adam on the same day of the week that Adam was created and was raised from the dead on the first day of the week as the last Adam.

1 Cor. 15:45
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

If you still are not convinced I have several more arguments up my sleeve to convince you.

Sent from my iPad

[


(Steve Mga) #17

Jesus THE MAN, dying on the Cross after a concluding time of horrific torture,
took Back the “keys to the earthly kingdom” that Adam gave to the Serpent.
Christ Jesus, the MAN ascended into heaven and sits on the “right hand of God”
as reported by Hebrews and Revelation ever since His ascension. His Human
glorious body and His blood is sitting on the throne with the Father according to these
2 descriptions.
Hebrews 9:12 tells us that when Jesus Christ ascended to heaven “he entered the Most
Holy Place once and for all [not Oct 22, 1844] having obtained eternal redemption.”
QUESTION – any problem with this???
Ellen tells us that the Father and Christ on that date moved to the Most Holy Place
on independent “chariots”.


(David) #18

That’s a good question Robelle. The best solution I found is in Matthew 27 where the two phrases are linked together.

One could argue that “after three days” implies a resurrection on the fourth day. Yet the chief priests and the Pharisees only requested the tomb be secured until the third day. It could be that the expression, “after three days” assumes inclusive counting. Sorry that I don’t have a better answer.

Matt. 27: 62-64 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.”

It’s interesting that the verse says the priests and Pharisees met with Pilate on the day after the Day of Preparation. That would make it the sabbath day as well as the 1st day of the feast (according to my argument).

I believe one of the best proofs for a crucifixion on the 6th day of the week is found in Luke 23:56:

Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

This verse is clearly referring to the fourth commandment. The first day of Unleavened Bread was never spoken of in that way.
@robelle


(David) #19

Leandro, I believe it was entirely intentional (not left up to chance) that the two sabbaths (weekly and lunar) occurred on the same day that Jesus rested in the grave. Jesus said, “My time is not yet come”, implying that things we’re not yet aligned (week and month) as they needed to be. The fact that the two sabbaths were joined at His death points to a type of wedding between the year of weeks and the year of months. There’s a little more to it than that but that’s the gist of it.
@leandro


(Leandro) #20

We might be talking about two different messiahs: One that rested complete 3 nights and 3 days and one that rested only 2 nights and 1 day. I can no longer argue.