Physical death, raised to life in the Spirit

1 Peter 3--18

The Verse of the Day for November 14, 2015 is found in 1 Peter 3:18 (NLT) provides a striking contrast between death and life:

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

The verse contrasts being “put to death in the flesh” with being “quickened or made alive.” Translated from the Greek word zōopoieō, the expression meansto cause to live, make alive, give life, restore to life, endued with new and greater powers of life, of seeds quickened into life, i.e. germinating, springing up, growing)

This verse also brings to mind a statement made by Jesus Christ in John 12:24;

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [just one grain, never more]. But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest

Throughout the Scriptures we find that life always follows death, for God is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him (Luke 20:38). I recall seeing a graphic illustration of having been put to death with respect to the flesh in stark contrast to having been quickened or made alive with regard to the Spirit:

About 10 years ago while living in Columbus, OH, there was special exhibition called Chapungu, a collection of sculpture from Harare, Zimbabwe on display at the Franklin Park Conservatory. One of the sculptured works of art that particularly arrested my attention was entitled “Dying Antelope Transformed into a Butterfly.” It was the inspiration for this poetic response to what I witnessed:

Although this is not the particular sculpture that I saw, it shows the transformation taking place as an antelope is changed into a butterfly.

Although this is not the particular sculpture that I saw, it shows the transformation taking place as an antelope is changed into a butterfly.

A Lesson from Chapungu*

Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;

The snare is broken, and we have escaped.

Psalm 124:7

With my eyes open to see what God has to say,

I stroll through varied green scenes while looking to see

Secret messages, sculpted letters sent to me

In rocks that cry out from quarries of Zimbabwe.

Hunted game escapes, just beyond the huntsman’s grasp,

An antelope transformed into a butterfly,

Snatched from the clasp of death, quickened to glorify

The God that spoils the powers of the deadly asp,

To release souls who trust Him from the fear of death.

You uphold me with your victorious right hand.

Not even death can limit all that you have planned,

For you sustain all life and safeguard every breath.

The Lord protects my life, preserving flesh and bone,

That I might proclaim His praise as a living stone.

The epigraph or opening scripture for the poem is found in Psalm 124, which is offered as a song by Esther Mui, “Our Help is in the Name of the LORD” (Christian Scripture Praise Worship w/ Lyrics)


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