Beyond the Walking Dead

Today is Halloween. While for many the holiday signifies costume parties, candy, carving pumpkins, and scary movies, I’ve been struck by the theme of life and death that permeates this holiday rooted in fear. In a strange twist, as we enjoy the thrills and scares related to avoiding, causing, or coming back from death, we highlight the fact that each of us longs to live. We desire to cheat death.

Let’s be honest though. The theme of life and death is not related simply to Halloween. It permeates our culture. All one has to do is turn on the television to see this is so.

For example, have you ever watched an episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead? For reasons unknown, the world has become infected with a virus that kills people, causing them to die and turn into zombies. There is no cure and no hope for life. The zombies are literally walking dead people. And unfortunately for the walking alive, they carry the virus too. It’s only a matter of time before all will be the walking dead.

Or take the latest episode of ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Regina the evil queen seeks to bring back her love from the dead through magic. Yet as the episode demonstrates, even in fairy tale world there is finality to death. Speaking of resurrection Regina’s opponent states, “Even magic can’t do that.”

Isn’t it interesting that what we affirm in stories like The Walking Dead and Once Upon a Time as fiction the Bible affirms as reality? Yet the death spoken of in the Bible goes beyond that of mere physical death. The Bible speaks of a spiritual death, one that leaves us without hope of resurrection.

For the wages of sin is death… And you were dead in your trespasses and sin. In which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.[1]

This is a grim picture. We are the literal walking dead. If we’re dead, how can we make ourselves alive? We’re all infected and magic won’t work.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end here. There is one who has defeated death and has the power to give us life. There is a life-giving, hope-filled “but.”

But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.[2]

For the walking dead there is good news. Jesus Christ died and rose again on the third day, defeating death.  In him we can become the walking alive.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”[3]


[1] Romans 6:23a; Ephesians 2:1-3

[2] Romans 6:23b; Ephesians 2:4-5

[3] John 11:25-26

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