Thunk! Oh no, not another one. The children and I rushed outside to check the fate of the latest bird to crash into our window. There it was… its beady little eyes staring… not even a twitch in its lifeless body. A few moments later I returned to the sorrowful scene with spade in hand, ready to dispose of this tiny creature. A gentle nudge with the shovel blade and surprise! The little fellow regained his senses and flew off to the nearest branch, very much alive!
I sometimes ask my husband if someone famous is still alive. With all of the movies and reruns on TV, some people seem to live on forever. And there are entire industries built around keeping some stars immortal: Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Elvis.
I’ve heard some say that as long as one person remembers, it keeps the memory of the departed alive. Perhaps that’s the basis of ancestor worship in some cultures.
The textbook I used in college was called The Living Shakespeare. I really don’t think they were claiming his resurrection through those pages, but I’m sure the hope was we would consider Shakespeare still relevant today.
Is that what we hope people will think when we speak of our Living Lord and Savior? That we’re just trying to keep His memory alive? That He’s relevant? I hope not. I hope it’s more. Because the facts bear out a much stronger message. He really is alive!
The apostle Paul got himself in trouble with the Jewish leaders and Roman governor when he made that claim. Festus, the governor, seemed confused by the reaction of those Jews to Paul’s statement. He had expected a much more serious charge to be brought before him. However, this question of “alive or dead” is the most serious matter. And it doesn’t just apply to our physical bodies being “alive and kicking.”
Jesus talked about being alive on the outside and yet dead on the inside. Remember his accusation to the pious religious leaders… that they were whitewashed tombs? In Revelation 3:1 one of the early churches was called out for having a reputation of being alive, but was actually dead.
We know that Jesus’ body died. Roman executioners don’t make mistakes. Yet we also know He is alive, just as we will be after our bodies are through with their task on this earth. Just like our Savior, we will still exist… be alive… just different and in a new location.
In the meanwhile, how alive am I right now? Well, I know that I got the spiritual AED jolt when the Holy Spirit came into my heart. Spiritually I was dead and could do nothing about it. After all, what can a dead person do? Grab the defibrillator paddles herself and apply the life-giving power? That’s silly to even imagine in a physical sense. Why would I think it could happen spiritually?
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
This is the “alive” that the father of the prodigal son shouted out when he saw his boy returning. “My son was dead, but now he is alive.” (Luke 15:24) And we are those sons and daughters who are alive again when we are touched by His gracious love, His living Word.
Because one thing we know for sure, His Word is alive and active! (Hebrews 4:12) How else could I claim to be alive in Christ? I know it’s by His death that I’m alive right now and will be forever.
And now the life I live I owe to Him alone. I can’t take credit for being dead to sin. He did that. I can’t claim a righteousness that I didn’t earn. I belong to Him not because I keep His memory alive, but because I live with Him right by my side.
I take Him at His word because it is the only thing that keeps me living when I’m stunned by this world’s disappointments and blows. “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever!” (Revelation 1:18)