Dying as a path to life1
So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
- Mark 15:46
“was crucified, died and was buried”
- from The Apostles’ Creed
Thousands of books have been written about these lines. Men and women throughout church history have delved deeply into the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion, death and burial. But in the Apostles’ Creed, we hear just the facts. “Here’s what happened,” the Creed tells us.
One reason the Creed focuses on the facts is because it was originally used as a baptismal creed. Before people were baptized, they were asked to speak the Creed in order to describe the core of their belief.
Baptism, from the earliest Christian documents, symbolized dying with Christ. As Christians entered the waters of baptism, they died to their old lives and old ways of finding life. Christians have always proclaimed the counterintuitive truth that dying with Christ is the only true path to life and freedom.
The Apostles’ Creed articulates what the baptismal candidates are about to do: join Christ in his death and burial and, yes, in his resurrection too. As they are buried in baptism and rise again, they are sent out to live new lives, lives filled with freedom and purpose.
How does Jesus’ death free us …
- from the fear of death?
- from grasping, striving and seeking our own glory?
- to love and serve extravagantly?