Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seven Years

Seven years ago today my father died. It's a day I have replayed in my head a million times. The phone call, the realization, the tears. It's a day that hangs like a cloud over some family events, and a day that is never more than a remark or question away from my recollection. It's a day I am only recently coming to fully understand as supremely significant in my development as the man I have become. 

One of the things I have become more and more assured of since that day is the idea I haven't seen my father for the last time. I don't mean in heaven, I mean here on this earth in bodies a lot like the one I have right now. David Crowson is not dead, he is only sleeping. His rest is with God, and he is in paradise with Christ even now. However, there will be a day he walks this earth again. 

We all know the story of Jesus and Lazarus. Jesus had a buddy who died. He didn't get to his house in time to heal Lazarus, so he died. He was all the way dead. Then Lazarus' sister tells Jesus he blew it by not being there in time and Jesus says Lazarus will rise again. Then Martha says something interesting: "I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day." 

What?

As much as we put down ancient people groups for being backwards, misguided, and prone to using leeches to suck the blood out of sick people, there was one thing they were sure of: no one comes back from the dead. As a matter of fact, every people group on earth at the time of Jesus was absolutely sure that physical, bodily resurrection was a scientific impossibility. Well, every people group except one. The Jews, other than a group called the Sadducees, were believers in a physical resurrection from the dead for the righteous on the last day, when Messiah would come and make all things new. Martha was making a statement that would have led zero people to call her a heretic in her day. Her brother would come walking out of a grave in a literal, physical, skin-and-bones body one day--just not today. 

Then Jesus (as is always the case) blows her mind. "I am the resurrection and the life," He says, "Anyone who believes in me, though he dies, will live." 

What?

Again, the Jews had the concept of physical resurrection in their belief system. The concept that Jesus was taking about was the radical notion the HE would defeat death before the last day. That someone would be physically resurrected in an eternal body before the time in which all the righteous would walk out of their tombs. When Jesus died, was buried, and then came back to the world of the living he did so in a physical skin-and-bones body. If He hadn't, (as NT Wright points out in Surprised by Hope) He would have left bones behind in His tomb, He wouldn't have shocked the disciples (Jews who believed in the last-day-resurrection of the righteous) so completely, and he wouldn't have defeated death

If the physical, bodily resurrection of the dead is not true, then death is still winning and the grave still gets the last word. If the popular notion that we die and our souls fly away to be with angels and God and Jesus somewhere up yonder forever and ever is true, then Jesus' death and resurrection didn't accomplish a whole lot. Yet, He did rise. His tomb was empty. He was, as Paul wrote "the first-born from among the dead." First-born meaning there are going to be more who join him, including my dad. 

One day, the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and when that happens the dead will rise from the grave. Not in a spiritual sense. In a literal, walking around, breathing and having fingernails sense. This world will be renewed, and our Savior will lead us into finally fulfilling His commission of bringing Heaven to Earth. 

My grief is different from that of an unbeliever because the Hope of glory is strong in my grief. I know death has been robbed of its power. I know the grave has lost. I know my Savior lives and because of that fact I can face tomorrow. I miss my dad every single day. I know he is with Jesus and I know he is proud of me and I know I will see him again soon--right here on earth. 

Early Christians would have the phrase "Resurgam" engraved on their tombs. It is a Latin phrase meaning "I will arise."

Yes I will. Because He did. 

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About Drew

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A follower of Jesus, trying to build myself and others up from the inside out.