The last book Ernest Becker published before his death was titled The Denial of Death. Several months later, it won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction. The book identifies the powerful impulse in all human beings to escape death’s power. Whether it keeps us from visiting someone in the hospital or drives us to wear clothes and make-up to try to look younger, Becker claims that we’re driven in powerful ways by an underlying fear of death.
Mary and the other disciples were still reeling from death’s sting on the morning she stood beside an empty tomb weeping, eyes blurred by tears. When someone she thought to be the gardener spoke to her, she did not recognize him as Jesus. Gently, Jesus spoke her name, "Mary" (v. 16). In this moment of her greatest distress, Jesus compassionately called her by name.
Over the next hours and days, others would encounter the resurrected Jesus. He showed Himself to the disciples. He offered His wounds for inspection. He even hosted a fish fry at the beach. This wasn’t a magic trick, and Jesus’ resurrected body wasn’t an illusion. Rather, Jesus’ entire person— body, mind, and spirit— has been resurrected to new life.
In light of His resurrection, His followers could now understand some of His final words to them prior to His crucifixion. He told them that they, too, would experience a bodily resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus’ body is central act in human history and it alone can free human beings from our fear of death. Because Jesus’ body was raised to indestructible life, we who trust in him know that our bodies will also be raised. We no longer have to feel bullied by death.
Apply the Word
Whether you’re someone who dwells on death or whether you never give it a second thought, you might still be moved in deep ways to preserve your own life. In fact, it’s a pretty natural way to live! Jesus has assured us, though, that we’ll be resurrected with Him to new life. How might this confidence change your living today?