DEATH COULD NOT HOLD HIM
“’Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.’” (St. Peter’s speech on Pentecost, Acts 2: 22-24)
Pentecost is still many weeks away, but I am already called to anticipate it in the above-quoted passage, read in our churches today. Here St. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, is “making sense” of Christ’s death and resurrection. He offers me the simplest and clearest “explanation” of our Lord’s rising up from the dead, – “because it was not possible for Him to be held” by death. Divinity, the Source of Life, could not be held by death. Humanity, on the other hand, “could” be held by death, and was, indeed, “held” by it, – before humanity’s unique union with divinity in the Person of Jesus Christ. When death came up against the God-Man, Who took it on wilfully, “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God,” it was irreparably damaged, losing its “sting” and its “hold” on all who wilfully choose to live and die in Christ.
We still die a physical death, but we die differently, just like we live differently, in Christ. The meaning of “death” and “life” is forever changed through Christ’s salvific journey through our life and our death. It is now His kind of death, and His kind of life, that we receive, if we wilfully walk the cross-carrying journey with Him. But just talking about it, or reading about it, doesn’t do me much good. I need to try it today, and once again re-connect with His Spirit, that I may experience this new kind of living and dying, not in lonely isolation, but as one belonging to His light-filled Body. So that I know what it means, not to be “held” by death. Thank You, Lord, for being One of us, that we may become one, in You.