Conrad Gempf: 5th Sparrow

May 2003
Death goes into reverse
Previous 5th Sparrows

Comment on this column I VAGUELY REMEMBER C.S. Lewis writing somewhere that in Christ's resurrection, death itself began to work backwards. He probably based it on Matthew 27:51-52: "The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life."

If you've been through an earthquake of any magnitude, you'll know that your fear had an unusual edge to it, for the thing that's threatening you is precisely that which you usually regard as providing security and stability: solid ground, bedrock.

But at the resurrection earthquake in Matthew 27, we're not told of death tolls and widespread destruction of property. The only things we're told were destroyed were the tombs. The danger worked in reverse, and instead of a death toll, there was a back-to-life toll!

J.R.R. Tolkien, himself a devout believer, coined the term "eucatastrophe" for such an event: one of great magnitude and suddenness but with good effects.

He is risen!

Dr Conrad Gempf is a lecturer in New Testament at London Bible College. He also writes for and edits the monthly webzine there.

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