Death: There is not a clear line separating life and death. In The Undead, Dick Teresi notes that the old standard for determining death was the absence of a heartbeat. But even experienced practitioners sometimes misdiagnosed lack of pulse when life remained. Even today, medical professionals still have trouble agreeing on a standard. Some emphasize cardiopulmonary death while others might declare patients as brain-dead when their hearts are still beating.
Bones: There is another way, however, that those with beating hearts and working brains may be dead. The Lord took Ezekiel to a valley filled with dry bones and said to him, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Ezekiel answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then the Lord said, “Prophesy over these bones … Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live … I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people … And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live” .
Resurrection: It was a picture. His people may have been walking around with beating hearts and working brains, but they were spiritually dead. Their sin had alienated them from the only source of true life – namely, God. They were dead, not sick. Thus, they needed a resurrection, not a prescription. In Jesus, the Lord kept His promise to open their graves and give them His Spirit. On the cross, Jesus defeated death itself. And this is costly, not cheap, grace. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God” .
Prayer: Lord, By nature, we are spiritually dead. There is nothing in us that would choose you . Instead, by our nature, we choose disobedience and rebellion. In Jesus, however, we have the hope of resurrection. He breathes new life into our dry bones. We praise you for this good news. For apart from him, we have no hope of true life and, in him, we have eternal life. Amen.