• Fr Robert Randall McDonald Bagwell

Resurrection + Transcending Death

The Orthodox have a hymn they sing as the Pasch – the Great Vigil of Easter. It is called the Troparion and roughly in all of its renditions it goes as follows:

“CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD, HE HAS TRAMPLED DOWN DEATH BY HIS DEATH, AND UPON THOSE IN THE TOMBS BESTOWING LIFE”!

Troparion in the Greek language means: “sign of victory” and is drawn from St Paul’s text: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21–22)

Many do not realize that resurrection is far different from resuscitation. This is a change is the very fundamental character of the human body. The word the Scriptures use is “morphe”. It is a change in the fundamental character of Jesus. We see this most dramatically in the transformation of the caterpillar into the butterfly. This is probably why the butterfly is used as an image of resurrection! The caterpillar transcends itself to become something totally new. This word ‘transcend’ means: : “to rise above or go beyond the limits of”. That is what Jesus did when he rose from the dead. He was not just like he was when he died on the cross. No not at all. John the Beloved writes: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is”. Jesus was not the same person bodily as before the crucifixion. Jesus was able to simply appear in the midst of the apostles and on the road to Emmaus. Just as easily he would disappear and yet in those contexts he could be felt as fully material and he could eat, but he was no longer restricted and was re-born from the dead into a glorious body. He was like he was before but even more than he was before. Again Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here”! (2 Corinthians :17) When Jesus arose—he had transcended death and after his death he was transformed into a heavenly body. Paul also wrote: “0But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, “who, by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself, will transform our lowly bodies to be like His glorious body”. (Philippians 3:21) Something profoundly new has come to the reality of the universe. Death has died because Messiah lives! For those who embrace the Son, death is no more for life has come! Because of resurrection, when one is reborn in Christ Jesus, eternal life has begun although it may not always seem apparent, God lives in us through Holy Spirit and he is working his purposes out through us. As long as we are on this earth, that will continue until the day our Savior calls us home. Alleluia!


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