Good Friday Reflections from Jesus Freak: The Fear of Death

Sara Miles writes this in her final chapter in Jesus Freak, “Raising the Dead,” about the crucifixion:

“The promise of the resurrection is that Jesus has not only risen, but destroyed death itself. He has overthrown death, trampled it down, and he forever hauls all the rest of us out of our tombs. As St. John Chrysostom wrote in the fifth century, “Death swallowed a body and met God face to face … death has no power anymore.”

But of course death, and the fear of death, continue to drive so much on earth. They lie under all human violence, drive our sad struggles for domination, allow the manipulations of religion and empire to thrive. As a war reporter, surrounded by terror, I’d experienced the powers death had to make me betray and refuse to help others. I’d seen people who were, in their souls, no more than walking dead: they were completely ruled by fear of the grave. I believed in my own churning guts, those made days and nights, that violence was the real force driving the world. death seemed unstoppable.

And yet I witnessed amazing sights, as well, whenever a person left the fear of death behind, and rejected the temptations of power through violence. I saw unarmed civilians walk straight into a line of sharpshooters. I saw a mistreated woman let go of revenge, and instead offer a stranger a cup of tea. I saw a scared kid refuse to strike a prisoner. These people had a totally different kind of power, one which comes from believing that death doesn’t have the final word. …

But Christ crucified has come to sweep away the fear. The power to reject and hurt and kill is shown by Jesus as, finally, irrelevant, in the face of the power to love so unreservedly that you gladly pour out your life for others. God’s weakness turns out to be stronger than human strength. Even death is over. As Jesus says, on the cross: It is finished.

One Response to “Good Friday Reflections from Jesus Freak: The Fear of Death”
  1. Matt says:

    Lack of a fear of death also motivates Suicide bombers. Go figure.

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