Jason Watson is a animator/designer who has worked at the Church of the Resurrection for nearly 5 years, creating videos and graphics for student and children’s ministries. In his free time he likes to spend time with his wife, make art, write music and study theology and philosophy.
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12)
In my office I have a few spring-loaded tops shaped like spaceships, with cute little aliens in them. A few windings of the cockpit on the thruster base loads the top, and one push of a button sends my miniature friends whirling in a frenzied motion on the desk.
During moments of more contemplative introspection, how often I discover the feeling that perhaps I am the one spinning. As my tiny green dervish in its erratic pirouette knocks into my keyboard, or a mug, or, when I am especially introspective, into other tops, I cannot help but recognize myself. For no matter how tightly I wind the spring, no matter how smooth the surface, no matter how clear the path, eventually the spinning comes to an end.
The ‘end.’ In its colloquial sense, all we can see in the ‘end’ is finality, cessation. Something is over, like the rolling of the credits when the movie ends. As such, I have always been mystified by Jesus’ words that he is “the beginning and the end.” The beginning I can somewhat (albeit imperfectly) grasp- he is the source of all that is, the wellspring of being. But what about the ‘end?’
For Christian theology and philosophy, ‘end’ is not cessation or finality, but is rather something quite different. It is the direction, the purpose, the goal of something. Ultimately, a thing’s ‘end’ tells you why it is and what it is for. Thus, when Jesus says he is the ‘end,’ he is saying that our purpose is found in him; we are made for him.
In a way, death has become the colloquialism of our ‘end.’ We were created for union with God. Our sin, however, carries with it quite the sting, as St. Paul tells us that “the sting of death is sin.” Far from the blossoming of love that creates and gives life, our sin has hijacked our existence, my sin has hijacked my existence, leading me to an end God never intended, an end that I cannot escape.
When I think about Lent and Good Friday and Easter in these terms, I am breath-taken. That God would lower himself into this hijacked existence, would unite the purity and infinite-ness of his indescribable nature to the broken and dying nature of us all is nothing short of amazing.
But in Jesus, God died. Does this not then mean that death, in the final analysis, has the last word, triumphing over God’s creative Word? Is humanity’s end, after all, to dissolve into the oblivion of death?
The Resurrection is proof that death is not the ‘end.’ We were not made to fall into the abyss of nothingness, sinking into a chasm of shadows and darkness bereft of the light of being. Jesus’ death defeated death precisely in that in Jesus we find a new direction set forth for humanity, we find the reality that the union of God and man is stronger than death and sin’s attempt to dissolve it. As God brought forth creation from the chaos and emptiness of nothingness, so in Jesus God is bringing forth a new creation, as St. Paul tells us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come!”
Fully confident of our true ‘end’, we can have hope amidst the turmoil of this fleeting existence. The Resurrection is the vindication of the belief that God is good, that God is love, that God has not abandoned us.
Ultimately, we are not the whirling tops that have been dropped into place, to spin and bang around aimlessly without direction, without purpose. In the Resurrection we have a sure hope in the face of the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the results of the biopsy coming later in the week. In the Resurrection all of God’s promises are fulfilled. In the Resurrection we find that death is not the ‘end’ we are meant for; rather, we find in Jesus the overwhelming love and grace of God to lead us on a new trajectory, to a new end, until we come by faith in Jesus Christ to share in his heavenly kingdom and the union of love with God.
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