1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4: “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Death runs in the family. Everybody dies.

There are all kinds of issues arising from death. One is separation anxiety. Separation is a trauma most of us have to deal with at some point in our lives. For me it happened when I lost my Dad through divorce. When my parents divorced I was 2 years old. I couldn’t voice my confusion back then. If I could have, I would have said something like this: “Dad why did you leave me? I thought you loved me!”

My Dad really didn’t leave me. He was divorced from me.

Death does the same thing. Death divorces people from us.

Death divorced Jesus from the Trinity. For a while the Trinity was reduced to two. Talking about trauma here: It is one thing when families are torn apart; it is quite another when the Godhead is torn apart. Here is what Jesus prayed when He went through the agony of separation (Psalm 22:1):

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

God did not leave Jesus. He was divorced from Him.

The pain of separation has scarred all of creation. “It is finished” Jesus prayed shortly before His physical death on the cross. What is finished? Is Jesus finished? Obviously not, otherwise His last word would have been: “I am finished.” How about: “Death is finished”? Well, He is about to die, so that can’t be it. How about: “My punishment is finished?” Still, this doesn’t ring true to me because His punishment was the death sentence, and He was not dead yet. How about: “My mission is accomplished?” I believe this with all of my heart. It is His mission to save us from homelessness.

Our souls are housed in our bodies during our lifetime on Earth. Death eventually separates the two. A soul without a home is the greatest agony imaginable. Rootless, restless, hopeless, empty and lost our souls roam without a home. Divorced from God, our souls are drifting like gypsies. God hates divorce, and He sacrificed everything to reconcile. Accepting His sacrifice we have a place where we belong and Heaven can’t wait to welcome us home.

Luke 9:23-24: “Then he [Jesus] said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.’”

Jesus’ ministry on Earth was drawing to a close when He began predicting His upcoming arrest. He was on the road to Jerusalem where He would face certain death, but He still kept on walking; His mind was made up. Approaching Jerusalem, Jesus addressed the crowd with the following words (Luke 9:24):

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

True to His own word, Jesus did not defend Himself when He was arrested. He did not hold on to His own life when He was nailed to the cross. And so He died. On the morning of the third day after His execution something incredibly wonderful happened: Jesus emerged from the tomb. To everybody’s amazement He came back to life.

Human beings are invited to follow Jesus’ footsteps. As we stop defending ourselves we let God defend us. God saves us – but He saves us His way. Our way of saving ourselves is self-defense. God’s way of saving us is giving up self-defense.

Entrusting our lives into God’s capable hands we will receive a much better life in return: Life Eternal.

Jesus died so we can live.

Finding the Lord is finding life. Living life in His presence, it begins to dawn on us how much He loves us.

Our Heavenly Father believes in us – so much so that He bet His Son’s life on it and poured out His Spirit all over the earth to show us the way home. The Trinity has fully invested in us withholding nothing and giving everything. I believe this is why the apostle John wrote in his gospel (John 3:16)

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The beauty of our homecoming is thanks to enduring faith: God believes in us, and we believe in Him.

Galatians 6:1: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

It is a modern-day miracle that Jewish identity persisted even after the Jewish population had lost their home country and had spread out all over the globe. A great example of preserving their cultural identity is the reintroduction of the Hebrew language. The process of the Hebrew language revival began in October of 1881, as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and his friends agreed to exclusively speak Hebrew in their conversations. As a result, the language, which had not been spoken as a mother tongue since the second century CE, once again became the national language of Israel.

To protect their integrity, Jewish upbringing emphasized separation: stay away from that, avoid mingling with these. This approach served two purposes:

  1. Maintain Jewish identity;
  2. Avoid disintegrating into foreign cultures

While this protective mode has worked very well to survive all kinds of cultural invasions, the same approach would eventually lead to a dead end. It is quite sterile to remain culturally on an island. When Jesus came along, He mingled with everybody; He did not stay away from foreigners or outsiders, and He had relations with all sorts of troubled people; this was highly counter-cultural from a conservative Jewish perspective. After His death and resurrection, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to the citizens of Galatia (in modern-day Turkey). In his letter he recommends reconciliation, just as Jesus would have done, but he also issues a stern warning not to stumble into the same pitfalls that had previously caused the friction. “Watch yourselves”, Paul wrote, “or you also may be tempted.”

Restoring relationships is never easy; in fact, separating is much easier than reconciling. A separation is precisely defined: here are the boundary lines; those are the walls and fences; do not cross. – That’s what separation is all about. – Reconciliation, on the other hand, is a whole lot messier.

Restoring relationships require a lot of courage and wisdom, and we need God’s Spirit to guide us in this delicate matter; in the process we shed prejudice and pride, since misinformation almost always leads to miscommunication. Jesus carries no such baggage. There is no labeling or defensiveness in the Son of God.

The Holy Spirit aims to connect. Building bridges supersedes burning them; getting back together is far better than erecting walls; and reconciliation always beats separation.

“Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down” – Paul Simon