A Divine Comedy

In the resurrection of Christ from the dead, we see the banishment of the old pagan idea of tragedy. The history of the world, in the light of the resurrection, is actually a divine comedy. And Christ rose from the dead in the middle of human history so that we might know the end of the story.

As a literary device, this is called foreshadowing. God has helped us in the weakness of our faith. The story we are in does contain great wickedness. There are men and women who do not acknowledge God, and their hands are covered with blood. We are surrounded by those who say that their idols of money, sex, power, comfort or violence have triumphed over us. But the resurrection of Jesus Christ answers them all. The one enthroned in heaven laughs, and holds them in derision.

But we, who live in the middle of these convoluted chapters, are sometimes tempted to despair in a spirit similar to the despair of Elijah. “We are the only ones left, and they will soon be rid of us.” But the story we are in has already had its turning point. That point will not descend upon us with a bang in the last chapter, where everything we have read so far is thrown out. God is a better author than that.

The turning point is already past. The claim that human history is a long, sustained tragedy has always been wrong—as Abraham well knew, rejoicing at his vision of the city of Christ. But it has to be said that the pagan claim of tragedy had a great deal more superficial plausibility before the coming of Christ.

Now that Christ has come, has been crucified, and has been raised from the dead in the presence of all men, we know the outcome of the story. We do not have to peek at the last chapter to comfort ourselves. God has already given us that glimpse, and He wrote it into the middle of the story. Christ is risen. This is a comedy. This is a divine comedy.

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