Dorothy Sayers on the resurrection of Jesus
During this Holy Season, we have been reading aloud around the table at dinnerBread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter. The readings are deep, a little too much so, for the kids, but I love them so much, especially something I read today from Dorothy Sayers, a wonderful apologist from the perspective of a writer and poet. This is an excerpt from her essay, The Greatest Drama Ever Staged.
Now, nobody is compelled to believe a single word of this remarkable story. God (says the Church) has created us perfectly free to disbelieve in him as much as we choose. If we do disbelieve, then he and we must take the consequences in a world ruled by cause and effect. The Church says further that man did, in fact, disbelieve, and that God did, in fact, take the consequences. All the same, if we are going to disbelieve a thing, it seems on the whole to be desirable that we should first find out what, exactly, we are disbelieving. Very well, then: “The right Faith is, that we believe that Jesus Christ is God and man, Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Who although he be God and man yet is he not two, but one Christ.” There is the essential doctrine, of which the whole elaborate structure of Christian faith and morals is only the logical consequences.
Now, we may call that doctrine exhilarating, or we may call it devastating; we may call it revelation, or we may call it rubbish; but if we call it dull, then words have no meaning at all. That God should play the tyrant over man is a dismal story of unrelieved oppression; that man should play the tyrant over man is the usual dreary record of human futility; but that man should play the tyrant over God and find him a better man than himself is an astonishing drama indeed. Any journalist, hearing of it for the first time, would recognize it as news; those who did hear it for the first time actually called it news, and good news at that; though we are likely to forget that the word Gospel ever meant anything so sensational. p.295
If it is true, then we can agree with the hymn from 1899, There is Power in the Blood by Lewis E. Jones.
And if there is power in the blood, then there indeed is freedom because of this good news. Death no longer has a sting. This is our hope, 1 Corinthians 15:53-58, available to us by faith in this risen Lord who loves us and wants us to love like him.
53 For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die. 54 When this happens -- when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die -- then at last the Scriptures will come true: "Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord! 58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord's work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
I know a few believers who died this weekend. Their journey is bittersweet. We are bitter because we miss them, but we are happy for them that their pain is over and they are able to enjoy the presence of God like we here on earth haven't. As Dorothy Sayers writes, this news is exhilarating. Hope makes all the difference as the storms of life buffet us.