‘”No one takes (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”’ (John 10v18-21)
Most people would agree that death is the inevitable consequence of having life in the first place – rather like the comic observation about how there are only two sure things in life – death and taxes. The moment that anything is born, it’s one second closer to it’s demise – such is the nature of life and death by old age, illness, accident, malevolence or whatever. We all die. So imagine the surprise of Jesus’ listeners when he claims:
‘No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.’
If someone said the same thing to us, we would think it improbable – not just the idea that you can sidestep illness, ageing and injury but rather, you have control over death itself in such a way that the grave can never hold you down. No wonder, those who heard Jesus’ pronouncement responded the way they did. After all, only the mad or demon-possessed would suggest such a thing.
For christians, Jesus is the only one who can make such a claim because he exists both inside and outside of time. Jesus was present at the beginning of Creation as Logos, speaking and directing God’s words in unison with the Divine Father as the Holy Spirit brooded over the waters and the Trinity went into action – see Genesis 1 and 1 John 1. However, unlike those that were quick to dismiss Jesus, there were others – more rational and open in their thinking – who on the evidence of the miracles they had experienced were ready to defend Jesus. Moreover, people who could see beyond the immediate to the potential of a different future where death would no longer have the last word.
But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”’