I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full – John 10:10
From whence comes life?
Jesus was not talking reductionistically about biological life. No, Jesus is talking about human flourishing, about the livingness characteristic of God: friendship, well-being, personal and equally socio-economic well-being. Every aspect of human and non-human aliveness is caught up in Jesus’ concept of life.
It even extends to intellectual life, in which imaginations awakened by faith transcend so-called New Atheist rationalities, encased as they are in tedious physicality.
Eternal life means “every-little-bit-of-imaginable-life” life. It means, then, life before death, as much as it means life after death.
But the truly significant question is, what are the conditions in which the new life of Jesus takes root?
The new life that Jesus promises emerges in the muck and grime of the human story.
It grows not in the Royal Doultons of life, but in the upheaval and wreckage of dysfunctional families, in the cradle of addiction and chronic ill-health, in the aftermath of flood and fire.
The life of God emerges unexpectedly in the midst of grief, in the bleakness of so much of the human story. It emerges, we learn in this Easter season, from the empty tomb.
Out of the void of the ever-empty tomb, the life of Jesus pours in upon us; beyond all expectation
- the momentum of hope overtakes the inertia of despair
- the effervescence of love refreshes the desiccation of anguish
- the saturating life of God inundates our parched, weather-beaten disappointments.
And so, we learn in our hearts the song of the saints: Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed. Alleluia.
The Rev’d Canon Dr Matthew Anstey is Principal of St Barnabas College. He teaches and researches in Biblical Hebrew, Old Testament studies, theology, and homiletics. He is on the Doctrine Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia. Follow him on Facebook.