Daily Resurrection Power this Easter Season:
Day 5 - Victory
We ended Uncle Silas’ shiva today. For the second time. We don’t mourn as we once did. We know now he’s not dead—his body is just sleeping for a bit after a long full life. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that Uncle fell asleep right before the New Year this time. The customary mourning period was one day not seven. He’s probably getting a kick out of that. Just long enough for us to eat “the meal of comfort” brought by neighbors. Some soft tears glistened. He had told us he couldn’t wait anymore. So we drank to his health and about “died” ourselves from laughter rejoicing for him. That would have offended before.
I remember our mood the first time we buried him. It was the difference of life and death. He was young then and not yet wed. We marvel how different Silas was his second time around! We are all very different because of him, different about everything. We know now. We have seen with our eyes, we have held in our hands, the reality of the world Mashiach rules over. This temporary one is but a sigh in the night by comparison.
Uncle Silas showed up zigzagging down between the houses just after the earthquake. I laugh out loud thinking of it. People were gasping and darting away in terror. There he was walking up our road wrestling to get out of his grave clothes. No one dared to help. Touch a dead man walking? Who had ever seen such a thing? The city was already in an uproar surrounding the Nazarene’s crucifixion. His disciples had gone into hiding.
As soon as he got his face free Silas burst out laughing. The same uproarious laughter that used to echo down these alleys where he was born, lived and had died too soon. A God-fearer and meticulous to keep our commandments, Silas went to temple and mikva, paid his tithe and gave to the poor. Uncle Silas was quick to lend his strong shoulder whenever there was heavy lifting to be done. All of that had not much softening on his temper when it occasionally got away from him. His debtors knew to steer clear during the feasts. Too much wine didn’t mix with old injustices. But when he went too far Uncle was so remorseful. He’d make up for it by doing some difficult task for the affronted neighbor. The wall of a neighbor’s house fell on him while repairing a place that sagged beneath a roof beam.
I loved him. My own father, his brother, could do little to console my agony back then. Silas’ bruised unresponsive body growing pale and thin. Everybody was praying. I clung to his limp hand hoping God would awaken him if I refused to eat. It was just impossible that my uncle— who lifted a neighbor’s ox out of a miry pit during the latter rain flooding—could lie there so unfinished, so helpless as if asleep. Of course father refused to let me go on like that after a day or two.
I recognized him immediately when he came staggering home. Cowering in our doorway I wondered what had just happened. People were screaming as I looked up to see the mummy coming down the street. In an instant I knew whose hands those were impatiently ripping off their bonds, hands that could bend bronze or hold mine so tenderly. Imagine a little girl of nine racing up the road to hug a living corpse. But I did with all my might. Unclean or not, my Uncle Silas was alive!
We made him tell it again and again. At supper, in the synagogue, we children would find him and beg him to repeat the details while he finished a new wall or hoisted an oak beam over a doorframe.
“The righteous aren’t dead,” he’d say. A flashing grin would cross his face in confidence, his once again bulging muscles at work. He’d look us in the eye and silent thunder rumbled through our soul. My hair standing on end in a mix of awe and joy, he was living proof.
“We were there, the lot of us, many more than I could count,” he’d turn again to his task. “There was a great gulf and we could hear cries of those on the other side.” A shadow would cross his brow. He told me of a particular Sadducee whose cold heart and loud prayers made him hated by simple folk. The pompous fellow exacted ten times a fair interest of anyone making the mistake to accept his so-called charity if they got in a bind. “Don’t think harshly of him now,” Uncle Silas said. A tear of pity pushed out of his eye and he didn’t bother to hide it. “His exactors are even less merciful than he was.” It seemed to leave him without words—that part of what he witnessed when we all thought Silas was just a decaying body in the family sepulcher.
Never again did he turn angry when the feast wine flowed—and it flowed on the day of his wedding! Uncle Silas who was dead got a beautiful wife and had sons and daughters. Some of the neighbors still insist the whole thing was a trick. Silas said the sun shining in noonday strength is darkness compared to the light that flashed forth in Sheol that day. Death gasped when the Warrior broke in.
“The powers that bound us in that place suddenly ceased to exist in His Presence. And we who had been weighted down by them were instantly loosed. Abraham, Moses, and all the rest kept telling us that He was coming. That He would bring us out in an exodus greater than that of our fathers from Egypt!” Sometimes he would sadly trail off. “But the others,” he would say, “those ones across the way….”
Even sadness for those left behind in darkness would vanish once Silas began describing Mashiach. “His hair flashed like lightening bolts. His eyes were flames hotter and brighter than hell itself—flames of burning love. His garment swirled about Him, swallowing up our grave.” Uncle Silas would twirl around. “Ten thousand New Year shofars and the shouts of Israel when Jericho fell are whispers in comparison!” he would exclaim. Eyes wide he’d stop. “And suddenly there I was. Stumbling down our dusty street as if coming home from a day’s work!”
The elders would ask Uncle Silas to stand up in the congregation and tell it all again. The congregation would whoop and cheer. There were Jews who hated us for sticking to what they insisted was the conspiracy of Peter and the others who had believed the Nazarene before He was executed for treason and blasphemy. He is the One we waited for.
“Don’t be afraid of death or the men who peddle it anymore,” Uncle Silas told me. “The Righteous One has the last laugh! He finished it all! Took care of the whole thing for us! And all those mourners we used to hire? To sing over us when we died? Ha! What a waste of money!”
God’s victory plan is the cross and resurrection. That victory subsumes everything else. There are four successive stages in Christ’s victory over Satan. The conquest predicted in Genesis 3:15, “He [Christ] shall crush your [Satan’s] head”; conquest begun during Jesus’ earthly ministry as He cast out demons and healed the sick; the conquest achieved as He suffered on the cross, “that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil. And release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Heb. 2:14-15); and the conquest confirmed and announced in His resurrection from the grave.
From our family to yours, may the blessings of Easter surround you this season. HE IS RISEN!
This Easter meditation series is excerpted from The Power of the Cross: Epicenter of Glory. Click here to order your copy online.
Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda, 4/8/2017