At the Dead Center
By Anthony Casperson
I find a tiny bit of humor in the fact that Marvel’s The Falcon and The Winter Soldier has its original airdates during these weeks in late March and early April. Just a chuckled “huh” worth’s of interesting, but humorous to me nonetheless.
You see, when I began diving more deeply into comic book superheroes, I learned an important rule when it came to any character death. You didn’t need to worry too much about such things because “the only permanent character deaths are Uncle Ben, Jason Todd, and Bucky Barnes.”
If that last name sounds familiar, it’s because that is the alter ego of the sidekick-turned-assassin-turned-hero the Winter Soldier.
While Captain America’s sidekick had been “dead” for decades in the comic books, it was revealed in 2005 that Cap’s long-time enemy, the Winter Soldier, was actually a brainwashed Bucky. It looked like even seemingly permanent character deaths could be undone as one of the big three was resurrected. Actually two of the big three, because Jason Todd came back into Batman’s life in 2005 as well.
(Sorry Spidey, looks like you gotta keep on suffering as always. At least, your perseverance amidst the pain continues to be an inspiration.)
When one of the major characters who had long been held as permanently dead, but eventually was resurrected, stands as a titular character of a show running during the timeframe of Easter, I gotta find humor in that. Right?
Sure, the resurrection in mind between the two is different in almost every conceivable way. But this comparison still gave me pause.
It reminded me of how our culture tends to view resurrection. When a character is revealed to be resurrected, we wait to hear how everyone was fooled by their mostly-dead state. Or we come to discover someone used an ancient item or location to imbue specialized energy into the once-dead being.
But mostly, resurrection comes up in order to undo the death of a fan/writer/author-favorite that someone decided needed to be brought back. An easy reset.
What we’ve ended up doing with resurrection is make it mundane. It happens all the time, so we expect it. Except for in our real lives, that seems to be a different story to our very human minds.
However, for we followers of Jesus, resurrection not only should be viewed with amazement and wonder, but is the very thing on which our entire system of belief hangs. Paul points out in 1 Cor. 15 that our faith is futile without the resurrection of Jesus.
If he didn’t die, then everything that we followers of Jesus have been taught is worthless. And we are the most pitiable individuals on the planet. People should feel more sorry for us than any other, if our faith in the resurrection is misplaced.
And why is that? Because everything points to the cross and resurrection. They are dead center to our faith. The whole plan of God for this story, called history, hangs on them. The events we celebrate this weekend are the most fundamentally core aspects to the faith of we followers of Jesus.
Without the resurrection, we have no surety of God’s acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice. We have no promise of a life beyond this sin-filled pain of an existence. And most importantly, if the resurrection didn’t happen, then everything that millennia of Christians have believed is a lie. And that’s Paul’s point in 1 Corinthians less than a generation after the events.
Resurrection isn’t just an easy reset tacked on decades later. No, it is central to the message of Jesus. And it should be central for our lives as well. Right at the dead center of every action we do and choice we make. Because it’s only as a result of those few days in history we celebrate this weekend that there is any hope beyond the death that stares each and every one of us in the face.
So, as we’re reminded once again of the resurrection of Jesus, let’s not just consider it another of the resurrection stories that we’ve heard throughout our lives. Rather, let’s remember that it is greatest resurrection. Because it is true. And it makes way for our own resurrection, both in our life with God now and when Jesus returns.