DOWN to Death and UP to Life

By Justin Rossow

Because of the natural patterns of physical life in a physical world, UP for us humans is active and awake and healthy, while DOWN tends to be passive, sleepy, or sick. The sun rises (UP) and you wake UP and get UP and even grow UP. The sun goes DOWN and you slow DOWN and power DOWN and pray: “Now I lay me DOWN to sleep…”

Both literally and metaphorically, death is DOWN and resurrection is UP; no surprise there. But one DOWN in the Early Church defies our expectation: in the Nicene Creed we confess Jesus, who “came DOWN from heaven.”

In all the other creedal statements for a hundred years before and after, that phrase “came DOWN” never means Jesus went from the Good (UP) to be with us here in the Bad (DOWN). Instead, when God comes DOWN to be with us, it’s a sign of the End Times, the beginning of a New Creation where God and humans again walk together face to face.

When Jesus came DOWN, that was the beginning of The End. When you go DOWN into the baptismal waters and are buried with Christ DOWN in his tomb, you are joined to the one who came DOWN to be with you.

When you rise UP daily from those death waters, you not only go UP to life: you begin living out the New Creation now, ahead of time. Your ultimate salvation comes not when you go UP to heaven when you die, but when Jesus comes DOWN one last time to inaugurate the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.

In the UPs and DOWNs of your discipleship walk, remember this: Since you have already been raised UP with Jesus, the New Creation has already begun in you. Your eyes now look UP to watch for Jesus coming DOWN to you again today.

Romans 6:4 (ESV)
We were buried therefore with him by baptism
into death, in order that, just as Christ was
raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 8:29 (NIV)
For those God foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son.


Spirit of Creation and New Creation,
join me to the death of Jesus.

Bury me deep in the watery grave of my baptism; kill my selfishness and pride.
Join me to the death of Jesus that the sins of my past may have no power over me.

Then bring the power of Easter to my present reality. Raise me to newness of life even now, ahead of my eternal resurrection. Let the life of Jesus define my identity.

Fill me, change me, guide me, and overflow through me, to the glory of the Father. Amen.

Editor’s Note: This devotion comes from Day 3 of Come, Holy Spirit: A Daily Discipleship Travel Log for Easter to Pentecost by Justin Rossow, available from Next Step Press.

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