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Mostly Dead or Fully Alive (An Easter Sermon)

In the classic movie "The Princess Bride", the hero has been tortured by sucking the life out of him. His friends take his body to Miracle Max, who gets out a bellows to blow air into the hero's lungs, then pressing his lungs, asks the hero what he has to live for. As he is preparing this "treatment", the friend says "What can he say? He's dead!" Miracle Max replies, "He's only mostly dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive."

(Click on this link to see the delightful clip.)

In John 20 we find the disciples afraid, locked behind closed doors, expecting persecution, believing that their amazing mission with Jesus was over. Jesus’ astonishing appearance in their locked room shows them that the mission is just beginning. He breathes on them, and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit.

While I fully believe that Jesus was completely dead and then more than completely alive, I look at the story of the disciples and think “maybe they were mostly dead”. There’s a terrific story in the Old Testament about the prophet Ezekiel, who in a vision sees a valley of completely dry bones. It’s a battlefield and everyone is long-dead. But then a wind – God’s breath – blows all over the field and the bones start coming to life and get muscle and skin and become fully alive people again.

Jesus recreates this scene when he breathes all over the disciples (not very covid safe, but that was a different time). He is like Miracle Max with the bellows, breathing life into the devastated disciples, the dry-bones disciples, and saying “what have you got to live for?”

How alive are you? If you had to rank yourself on “mostly dead” to “fully alive”, how are you going? The past two years have been rough, haven’t they? I don’t know that I’m full-strength Jude yet. I used to love being with lots of people, but in March I went to two parties in two weeks and it wore me out! At one of them, I had to tell my husband that I’d got to my limit of being nice to people and needed to go home! There’s still a fair bit of depletion in me. What about you? Your brain, your emotions, your body?

How is your capacity for hope?

How is your capacity for enjoying other people?

How is your capacity for creativity?

When you rest, do you recharge or just collapse?

Are you running away from challenges or taking them on with courage?

Are you open to receiving from others – whether its help, or gifts, or critique – or are you safely behind locked doors?

If Miracle Max squeezed the bellows into you, and asked you what have you got to live for, what would you answer?

Read more to find out about what Jesus' resurrection can bring to slightly alive people.

Easter Sunday John 20
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