Loose Him and Let Him Go
Hope in the Midst of Loss
In the Old Testament the term death is often “used as a metaphor for those things which hinder full life.” It is used in the book of Ezekiel to describe the exilic community, imprisoned and demoralized in Babylon. The Word of the Lord comes to the valley of dry bones and brings them back to life. The graves open up, and the people are brought home to the land of Israel (see Ezekiel 37). These images of bleached bones and open graves can speak volumes to persons whose suffering has left them imprisoned or decimated.
In the fourth Gospel, death becomes a metaphor for the type of existence that the followers of Jesus have transcended. Though they die biologically, Jesus’ followers do not participate in an existence that is oriented toward death. The presence of the suffering and risen Lord gives life to believers beginning in the present age. Those who hear the word of Jesus and believe have already passed from death to life (see John 5:24). And in raising Lazarus from death, Jesus proclaims that, for believers, he is the key to both resurrection from death and new life in the present (see John 11:1–27).