Today's text: Romans 6:3-4;8
Imagine the world’s last night. The sun goes down without hope of it coming up again. That is a scene in the 1951 film “When Worlds Collide” – a classic sci-fi that my wife Teresa and I recently enjoyed. Steven Spielberg is planning to make a new version.
In the story astronomers discover that a rogue red star named Bellus and its Earth-sized planet companion, Zyra, are on a collision course with the earth. Zyra will pass close to the earth then begin orbiting the sun. But, eight months later Bellus will hit and destroy the earth.
Humanity’s survival depends on Dr. Cole Hendron, a heroic rocket scientist, who hurriedly builds a space ship to ferry forty people, picked by lot, to the new world -- which they hope will support life.
A subplot involves David Randall, a flyboy pilot, who falls in love with the scientist’s lovely daughter Joyce. When the days on the calendar finally count down to zero, David and Joyce embrace to witness earth’s final sunset.
For the disciples Good Friday looked like the world’s last night. Their Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had been executed. On Saturday they entered a state of shock and grief. All their hopes that they had found the long awaited messiah were crushed. They scattered in fear.
In a sense, for us every day is like the Saturday after Good Friday and before Easter because we live in a broken world of disappointment and travail.
“For we know that all creation has been groaning with the pains of childbirth up to the present time.” Romans 8: 22.
Although we may anticipate a future daybreak when we might see face-to-face, in this mortal life we see only dimly. The truth is we are all marked by an expiration date. One of the characteristics that separate humans from animals is that we can contemplate our own death. The day will come when we will watch “The End” appear before the credits roll on the screen of our life.
My wife and I live in a wooded neighborhood in Kirkland near the university. Recently our neighbor next door to the north revealed to me that a woman in his Bible study complained of a headache at home one evening and died of an aneurism five minutes later. The young couple next door to the south also experienced a sudden tragedy when both of the husband’s parents were killed in a car crash while traveling to Harrison Hot Springs. His dad had just helped him build a new fence the week before.
We may be reminded of death constantly in this world, but like a baby bird without feathers, one glad morning we hope to fly away. That is why we Christians put our trust in Jesus. By assuming a radical identification with Christ's death, burial and resurrection we are saved. As Paul says:
“Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death … Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” Romans 6:3-4, 8.
The Greek word for baptism is to submerge, immerse, plunge or wash. One commentator says that the word suggests a sunken ship, swamped and waterlogged, sent to rest on the ocean floor. “A sunken wooden ship is a baptized ship.” Baptism signifies that our sinful nature has been permeated by the living water of the Holy Spirit and sunk to the bottom of the sea of God’s forgetfulness.
Now like an unborn child churning to breath amniotic fluid and weakly kick, or an insomniac in bed staring at the electric clock that seems to endlessly read “02:00 AM,” we wait for our deliverance.
Last year Odyssey Marine Exploration, a wreckage salvage company, discovered the largest lost treasure in history when robotic submarines excavated the sunken Merchant Royal, which went down in a storm off the coast of England three hundred and forty years ago. The load of silver and gold coins recovered from the shipwreck is worth an estimated 500 million dollars.
Our baptism into Christ is like recovered sunken treasure. While the first part of baptism is submersion, the second is resurfacing into new life. We are reborn from death into eternal life. We've hit the jackpot.
In Jesus Christ God became a man to exchange his divine glory to purchase our redemption. Like a Special Forces Team rescuing hostages, when Christ died he descended into Hades for our benefit to save those held captive and bring them back alive.
In a museum in Stockholm, Sweden a 371 year-old ship recovered form the ocean floor is on display. The Vasa was a war ship that sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. It sits preserved in a special humidified room. Years ago I was close enough to touch the water soaked planks of that vessel.
We believe that when our Saturday turns to Sunday, God will perform his own salvage operation. He will go treasure hunting. One day the ship of our life will be raised from the ocean of death, rebuilt better than before, and set to sail on a new sea in a new world. That is the hope we celebrate on Easter.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you went before us to show us the way. Rescue us from this world of sin and brokenness. Let us live and believe in you so that we may never die.