He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead (NIV)
My greatest relational struggle during my life thus far was my relationship with my dad. It’s consistently been a source of great pain and confusion for me. I’ve always been good at diffusing conflict and helping others through troubles they face in their own circumstances, I just could never figure this particular relationship out. It was always immensely troubling to me, because I longed for it to be a fulfilling, empowering relationship for both of us, like a father-son relationship should be. But then my greatest fear became a reality: my dad passed away before we could ever find true, lasting reconciliation.
This one hit somewhere deep, a depth that I’ve never been forced to face before. I had no previous experience to defer to in order to overcome the emotional burden placed before me. I found myself knocked into the waters I was always afraid I’d drown in, after loitering so close to the edge regardless of my fear. The initial shock told me I’d surely drown, and not be able to recover from what had transpired, but then I realized the most important thing: I was still wearing my life-vest, and my head was indeed above water.
That life-vest was my faith. The things I knew to be true because of my faith overwhelmed and defeated the pain that was in my heart. They reminded me that the lies my pain was feeding me were not true in the slightest. My dad was not lost to me. Not only that, but when we did meet again, it would be in a place where the things that divided us here on earth would be no more. We would be able to approach one another free from the shackles that tripped us up here in this life. We would find a relationship even more beautiful than the one that I had always dreamed of having with him.
What does Paul mean when he writes that Jesus is “the firstborn from among the dead?” He means that Jesus is not the only one who will rise again! All of those who have passed away that were believers will also return to live eternally in God’s Kingdom. The Christian faith rests on the truth of Jesus’ resurrection and victory over death. That victory over death was not won for Jesus alone, but in order to give all of those who accept Him as Lord and Savior access to the eternal life He provides.
We as humans cannot comprehend anything without having a beginning and an end. We can’t truly grasp eternity. Death feels like an ending to us because we’ve never personally experienced anything on the other side: but Jesus has! Jesus stared death in the face and said “you have no power over me.” In doing so He won victory for us all, and He will be true and faithful in delivering the eternal life that He promises.
No matter how hard it is, and how crushing it is to miss our loved ones in the moment, God longs to remind us that death is NOT the end!