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Gottesblog

A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Thoughts on Easter 2: Help From Dry Bones?

Fear is a great motivator. It practically drives us to do everything we do.

We’re afraid of being disappointments, of letting our bosses, our loved ones, ourselves down. And so we either work ourselves to death or we never venture out to do anything for fear of failure.

We’re afraid to be alone, but we’re also afraid to be rejected. We’re afraid  someone to see us for who we really are, who we are at our core, with no shiny veneer to hide behind. And we’re afraid that they wouldn’t stick around if they did.

We worry about our status among others. We’re afraid of what they might think if, what he would say, what she would do if . . . . And so we lie. We lie about who we are. We lie to impress them, to hide from them, to make them think that we’re someone other than who we really are.

Because of fear, we live for the approval, the affection, the attention, the love of others. And this drives us. It drives us to do outrageous things, to go to extreme lengths to get and to keep what we’re afraid of losing or to avoid that which we fear will ruin us.

Fear isolates us. Fear paralyses us. Fear strangles us and suffocates us.  It drives us to despair. It drives us to idolatry. It drives us to death. Fear kills us from the inside out.

Because we fear all these things, we do not fear the Lord. And if we really feared the Lord, we would not fear all these things.

The disciples are locked away for fear of the Jews. They're dead. But Jesus comes to bring them back to life, to make them a vast army, and to enact the already established everlasting covenant of peace upon them and by them for us.

The covenant of peace is mentioned in Isaiah 54:10; Ezekiel 34:25; Ezekiel 37:26. Together they bring into focus restoration of the people under judgment, where the wrath of God is being poured out upon His people but are rescued from their exile and restored to their promised, paradisal homeland. Ezekiel 34--37 carry this theme of comprehensive restoration of Israel, and the constant refrain is that all men may know that the LORD is the living God of Israel, who acts for the glory of His name (34:27-30; 35:9, 12, 15; 36:11, 20-24, 32, 36, 38; 37:6, 13-14, 28). What will be restored is

  1. the kingship of Israel as the LORD Himself in terms of shepherding (Ezek 34); 
  2. the land (Ezek 35:1-36:15)
  3. the whole nation will be resurrected (Ezek 37) 
The covenant of peace is the end of God's wrath and the re-establishment, the re-creation of His people as His people in the land He gave them. It is a full and comprehensive restoration.

Jesus comes to the disciples who are locked away for fear of the Jews. He comes to give peace  to His people, to those who are exiled and locked away for fear. He enacts the covenant of peace right then and there. And so that they know what He's talking about, Jesus shows them His hands and His side. He shows them that He has taken into Himself the wrath of God. That on the cross He is the King of Israel. That in the tomb, we have access back into the Garden of Paradise for peace has been planted in the earth (Ezek 34:29; Hos 2:18-25). And now that plant is raised up for in His resurrection, He has overcome sin. And thus He has authority over death and the grave. And because of this there is now peace between God and man, there is now peace between God and them. 

And so the Son of Man breathes on them. He gives them the Holy Spirit. Their dry and lifeless bones begin to rattle. Sinew and flesh cover them, and they have life in His name. They are now a vast army. They go out in ranks to bring this life, to enact this covenant of peace to everyone whose sins they forgive. 

There is nothing to fear. The Lord is the King in His promised land and over His people once again. He has done it. The covenant of peace is everlasting. Your sins are forgiven.