Today is the day of the Icon of the Resurrection.
Visualize it with me:
Jesus has entered the doors of Hell, pulled them down behind him, and they are now a causeway across the canyon of death in the shape of the cross.
Jesus stands on the death-side of the chasm of Hades along with all the dead.
Jesus, with the help of the priest, Aaron, the king, David, and the prophet, Elijah, has removed the lids of two sarcophagi.
Jesus with his nail-wounded hands, lifts his original parents, King Adam and Priest Eve out of their coffins and restores them to their intended roles as the prophets of all creation.
And all the dead jostle for a position in the march to resurrection.
Jesus is dead. He has entered death by dying.
An early preacher sang in his ode to this day:
The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh. … God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.
The Good news of today is “God is Dead.” For had God merely created us, it would have been enough. Had God merely come and lived among us, it would have been enough. Had God merely suffered the pain of the cross, it would have been enough.
But God died.
God died, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against this dead God. Death can prevail against the power of a living God, but all evil falls helpless against the helplessness of this dead God. This dead God lies silent and unmoving in a borrowed grave. And this dead God makes of his cross a bridge of salvation. He cries:“Come, my sisters and brothers, come and walk on this cross in the light of new life.”
Silently, and but yet with the song of all creation, Adam and Eve, and all their children, past, present, and yet to come, begin their journey toward resurrection. But today, we stand on the outside of those gates of death, staring at a tomb labeled with Pilate’s “do not disturb” and guarded by Caiaphas’s thugs, in silence.
Listen. Let the soles of your feet feet feel the earth quake. God has died, and hell quivers in fear.
Listen. God has died and the rumble of millions of million feet walking to the the new Jerusalem shake the walls of hell to rubble.
Listen. God has died and a million of million dead voices sing “Alleluia! Christ is risen!”
Listen. In the silence know: God has died and hell and death have fallen.