Springtime is a vivid reminder that death is not the end.
As summer gives way to autumn and autumn to winter, we witness in the natural world the process of living things succumbing inevitably to their own mortality. It is not an entirely macabre spectacle: for a few months, as the leaves on the trees begin to change, the world bursts forth in a living kaleidoscope of beautiful colors. That beauty is deceptive, however. The palette of autumn is the palette of decay and death. In seemingly no time at all, the leaves have fallen. And then the world becomes spindly and bare, covered over with ghostly white. It is a kind of death we witness during wintertime, when the signs of life simply disappear.
And then . . . springtime! The world emerges from its torpidity like a lion roused from slumber. Now the world is bursting with green and gold again, and birds’ songs fill the air once more. All around us flowers bloom and the earth gives forth its fruit. The cycle of death has been superseded. It has been replaced with a brand-new cycle of life.
So, too, was it with Christ. We witness in His death a tragic beauty far surpassing that of autumn leaves. As He hangs there dying on the cross, absorbing all at once the scorn of man and the wrath of God, the process of decay sets in. “It is finished!” the Savior cries. And so it is: the sacrifice, the atonement, the plan of redemption . . . but also the life of the Lamb of God. They are finished because He is finished. And as He breathes His last breath, the autumn of His life passes into winter. Death takes hold of Him. Just beneath the crimson brown of His rapidly drying blood, the color of living flesh fades to a pallor of snowy white. Death, it seems, has claimed its ultimate prize.
But just as surely as springtime follows winter, the prize is snatched from the monster’s hellish jaws. With a glorious triumph unequaled in all of history before or since, Christ emerges victorious from the grave! The tables have been turned: Death, that cruel and constant enemy of Adam’s race, has received at the Savior’s hand its own death blow. And now the vibrant colors of radiant life come surging back into the universe again. God the Son cannot be contained—not by a tomb, not by death, not by anything. Nor can He be stopped. His purposes will stand. His plans will advance. All Heaven and earth will move at His command, for He has been crowned with unfading glory. “Jesus who died, now glorified / King of all kings.”
Someday we, too, will face our own autumns and winters. “It is appointed unto men once to die” (Heb. 9:27). This life is transient, and someday it will surely end. But that is no cause for fear. Death is not the end. Springtime will come again. The resurrection of Christ portends our resurrection too. Because He triumphed over death, the portal to life everlasting—an eternal springtime—has been opened. Or, as Jesus Himself said, “Because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).
David Gunn is director of Regular Baptist Press.