From Death to Life

“Who’s going to make the first move?” A question fit for tense moments, movies, and family games of Monopoly. After positioning the game’s board, the money is dispersed, and the kids begin fighting over who gets to be the ornamental dog. Holding the dice, someone asks over the clamor: “Who’s going to make the first move?” At the climax of a western, six shooters rest in holsters waiting for action as the cowboy’s hand hovers with agitated anticipation: “Who’s going to make the first move?” Or as the estranged brothers step into the stuffy room filled with family and a casket, eyes shift from one to the other as memories fill the mental tapestry with yelling, red faces, and worn-out words that beg for an answer to the question: “Who’s going to make the first move?”

The first move is typically the hardest to make, for often it comes with a level of vulnerability not found in the steps thereafter. The first move costs more. Hurts more. Requires more. And some of us simply can’t conjure what it takes in that moment to be the answer to that question. For the answer could lead to more pain, more fighting, greater tension. Or—it could lead to a resurrection.

The book of Revelation can be summarized with a single image. A solitary scene. A powerful interaction between the apostle John and the risen Christ.

“And when I [John] saw him [Jesus], I fell to his feet like a dead man. Then he reached out and put his right hand on me saying, ‘Do not fear.’” (Rev 1:17)

Christ makes the first move. When he finds us, when he draws near to us, when he steps into our space, he finds us dead. Dead in our sin. Dead in our pain. Dead in our wanderings, in our arguments, in our grudges. He finds us dead.

And yet Jesus makes the first move. He reaches across the chasm, stretching his radiant light into our darkness, and touches us with a tender hand and powerful word: “Don’t be afraid.” Don’t fear. Don’t despair or cower or wince at my approach. But, as with Lazarus, Jesus cries out, “My child, come forth from the grave.” Rise to a new life. Emerge from the borrowed tomb and embrace God himself. “I am the first and the last,” Jesus whispers, “I am the living one. I died too. But behold, I live. For ever and ever, I live. For I hold the keys of death and hades” (Rev 1:17b-18).

Jesus made the first move—freeing us to do the same with others.

  • Scriptures
    • Revelation 1:12-18
    • John 11:38-44
    • John 1:1-5, 9-14, 16-18
    • Ephesians 5:1-2, 8, 14
    • 1 Cor. 15:54-57
  • Reflection Questions/Exercises
    • This week I want you to create a space for grace—not guilting you or anyone around you into action. But a place to wrestle with grace. In your time of prayer, ask the Spirit to unearth moments in your past or present where this question still applies: “Who’s going to make the first move?” Maybe it’s a family member, a friend, or even an enemy. The goal in this moment, though, is not to make the first move, but to allow the Spirit to surface the situation. Then, ask the Spirit to be present in that space, preparing the soil for new life.

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