They say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.” Therefore prophesy and say to them: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it,” declares the Lord. – Ezekiel 37:11-14
In the Second-Temple period of Israel’s history, when this Ezekiel passage was written, the Jewish understanding of resurrection was inseparably intertwined with an understanding of restoration and return from exile. At the time, Israel was a scattered nation, torn apart by foreign oppression and dispersed throughout the known world without a place to call home. They were a people of promise who believed God had a plan to restore broken things to the way they were meant to be. Things as they were meant to be included a return from their exile back to the land they’d been promised – a new beginning and a new life for their nation. Ezekiel 37, along with numerous other Old Testament prophetic passages, alludes to this connection between resurrection, restoration, and return.
As Easter approaches, we are reminded that these promises culminated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The restoration and return to the promised land turned out to be much more expansive and inclusive than one nation and one land. In the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, all of humanity is offered the gift of resurrection. We are extended an opportunity to leave behind the gray of a temporary existence and to enter into the vibrant colors of an eternal story. We are invited into a land of promise beyond our imaginations. Heaven and earth becoming one, the divine saturating the ordinary.
More than any other message or mantra that Awakening Church could recite for the world, let us remember that resurrection is our platform. Jesus offers new life out of death and darkness. Love reaches into dirt, and rescues us from Hades. Grace washes the filth, mercy heals the hurt, hope bridges the divide. God has never stopped loving and pursuing us. And this great love whispers in the darkness that Jesus has changed the story once and for all.
There are only two possible endings to the story of Jesus. Either there is a dead Jewish carpenter in the ground somewhere who’s fooled everyone. Or there is a King, alive and well, inviting us all into new and restored life forever. May we say yes to this invitation, emphatically and humbly, with gratitude in our hearts and an offering of worship in our hands. Easter is here. Death has lost its sting. His name is Love. And we are all welcomed home, both now and forevermore.
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