Death is the last weapon of the tyrant. In both of today’s readings, we see that played out. For Pharaoh, the Hebrews were growing to populous. He feared a revolt, and so turned to his last weapon – he drowned every Hebrew baby boy in an attempt to curb the population. But God wove even this into His plan and raised Moses in Pharaoh’s own house, Moses who would be the instrument of Pharaoh’s doom.
For Herod, the Hebrews revered John the Baptist. He feared a revolt, and so John lived. But his sister-in-law, whom he was having an affair with, turned to this last weapon for him – she called for John’s head on a platter.
Death has become a hallmark of our culture, from TV to Movies, from video games to news reports. Superheroes win battles by killing the bad guy, and since the year 2000, movie body counts have skyrocketed. Death is one of our greatest fears, and so we are fascinated by it.
For followers of Jesus, though, death is not the end. It’s finality, which has made it such a powerful weapon for tyrants, has been removed. Paul puts it much more succinctly in 1 Cor. 15:55 (which quotes Hosea 13:14), “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” Jesus has, by defeating death itself and granting us eternal life, disarmed any tyrant we may face. That alone should give us confidence to face down the oppressors of our world, for there is nothing they can do to us anymore.