Chapter 1

The Victory of Calvary

In the world of popular music, one of the most common themes, of course is the pursuit of love. Surprisingly, however, popular music also addresses another significant and contrasting concept—the reality of death. On the Beatles’ Revolver album, we hear the lament of Father MacKenzie’s sad and solitary task of burying Eleanor Rigby, “wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave.” In “Galveston,” made popular by singer Glen Campbell, Jimmy Webb’s words and music capture the fears of a young soldier in Vietnam, cleaning his gun and wondering if he will ever again see the love of his life, while crying, “I am so afraid of dying.” Bob Dylan fatally accepted his own mortality when he sang, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” In “I Love You This Much,” country artist Jimmy Wayne sings about the funeral of a father who never loved his son but whose death is mourned nonetheless. Most recently, country superstar Tim McGraw hit the top of the charts with a song dedicated to his late father, former major-league baseball pitcher Tug McGraw, who died of brain cancer. The song title? “Live Like You Were Dying.” The list could go on almost indefinitely. Like love, death is an idea that seems to stay close to the front of our minds. We fear it, struggle with it, and do all that we can to avoid and forestall it.

The Bible deals with the theme of death from a very different perspective, however, in Romans 6:23 where Paul writes, “The wages of sin is death.” Death is more than just an enormous question mark. It is the ultimate reality. It entered the world because of the disobedience of our ancient parents in a garden of glory and to this day continues to hover over fallen humanity like a dark specter (e.g. the “Grim Reaper”) that we cannot escape. The old saying “The only things certain are death and taxes” has stood the test of time for a reason. Death is inescapable. It is the one event in life for which there is no “Get-Out-of-Jail-Free” card. Except…

When Christ came into the world, it was to redeem a fallen human race. In order to do that, however, Christ had to do something pretty unimaginable—He had to kill death. He had to kill death dead. And making it even more unimaginable, Jesus had to kill death dead by dying.

He had to kill death. He had to kill death dead. And making it even more unimaginable, Jesus had to kill death dead by dying.

That was what the cross was all about. Killing death. The Son of God took sin’s penalty so that the guilty could go free; the wages of sin—death—have been dealt with and resolved. The resurrection of Christ stands to declare it. We want to explore the depth of that amazing truth—and we will do that by entering into the experience of a very special woman. This woman bears witness to the victory of the cross by bearing witness to the empty tomb. And her rescue declares life and hope and victory for all of us as well. We experience the resurrection in the heart and mind of Mary Magdalene.