In the movie Meet Joe Black, Death comes to life (an odd phrase, don’t you think?) in order to, simply put, try to understand what the big deal is all about. He compels a man with a potentially fatal heart condition to instruct and mentor him in life, to understand why human beings cling to life with every ounce of strength they have. In the end, the character that represents Death discovers love and life and realizes the power that life has-but he nevertheless returns to being Death-a taker rather than a giver of life.
When Jesus Christ came into the world, He declared that His mission statement was not about death but about life! Hear His words:
- “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John10:10, emphasis added).
- “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26, emphasis added).
- “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6, emphasis added).
The Christ kept His Word and provided the rescue He had promised. In fulfilling His mission, He did the impossible by taking dead people and making them living persons. This is the victory of Calvary. The victory of love and the victory of life-changing grace is secured and made possible by the love that holds us in its arms and won’t let go.
It was George Matheson who wrote the hymn “O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go.” Of his hymn of devotion, Matheson wrote:
My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan (Argyleshire, Scotland) on the evening of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high.
That is the heart of George Matheson, and it is the heart of Mary of Magdalene as well. Her identity may have been misrepresented over the years, but her witness is clear, and her devotion is unmistakable. It is a declaration of the glory of the cross and the power of the resurrection. It is the wonder of the Christ and what He does to change one single, individual, eternal life. And that is the pulse of the powerful witness Mary gives of the Savior who died and rose again that we could have forgiveness and life. Matheson’s hymn ends:
“Life that shall endless be.” Not death-life. May we, like Mary Magdalene, go forth to be living witnesses of the living Lord Jesus Christ who killed death dead so we could live life alive.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
Taken from The Path of His Passion
©2006 by Bill Crowder
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