“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:6-8
In the beginning in the garden, God presented man with two choices: the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He told them that choosing the latter would bring death and yet, deceived by the serpent, they chose it still (Genesis 3). Promised by Satan that they would receive enlightenment and and freedom, they instead, received darkness and slavery. Death became their master and so it has become the master of us all. In their pride, Adam and Eve chose death and now every human since has been made obedient to this one final fate. Over and over again, death has won the day.
Easter is the startling interruption to this story for in Easter, we see Jesus, the new Adam, also choose death. However, it was not in pride, but in humility, that He chose to take on this burden. Indeed, He was the one man over whom death had no right for He had committed no penalty. Not only was He a righteous man, but He was God in the flesh. He had every right to live and yet, He chose to die. Subjecting Himself to the laws of mortality, the flesh He created was pierced. The heart that He formed stopped beating. The lungs He filled ceased breathing.
On Good Friday, the ruler of the universe and the author of life made Himself obedient to death, but on Sunday, He made death obedient to Him. In His resurrection, Jesus obtained mastery over our master so that He might set us free. Descending into our prison, He emerged with the keys (Revelation 1:18).
Now, for those who believe in Him, death has been transformed. It is no longer a thief, but a giver. No longer a threat, but a hope. Now death leads us not into eternal punishment, but eternal life. What was destroyed in the garden will be restored. What was wrong will be made right. There will be no more tears or suffering or pain. Death’s dark shadow will be forever vanquished in the light of the risen Son (Revelation 21:4). The tree of life, lost to us through our sin, will be restored to us through His blood. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). There we will worship forever the One who by His death, gave us life, conquering our conqueror and breaking our chains.
“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11