Rev. Dave Haberstock
Zombies are everywhere these days: in video games, movies, TV shows, yes, even in my Catechism classes. But one of the most popular locations of all is AMC's "The Walking Dead." Zombies are so popular because they teach us a truth that the Law written on our hearts confesses to us at almost every moment of our lives, which is...
You are a zombie–a "Walking Dead" zombie to be exact. In that fictional universe the zombies don't just eat brains. They eat the living. They devour the flesh of anything that moves and breathes, especially and primarily human beings, in whom is the breath of life, the breath of God. All human beings in the "Walking Dead" universe are infected with the virus or disease that causes zombie-ism. When they die, they turn. Everyone in that universe is one of the walking dead. Many of the living give up and choose to become zombies. Many of the living are already zombie-like predators, preying upon the living, killing to "stay alive." Some even eat the herd, hunt, and BBQ the living for food. To be alive in that world is already to be a zombie. Nor does it seem to matter how you live, because the worst always comes out in you, as that harsh realm always robs you of virtuous choices, reducing every situation to a catch 22: Kill or be killed. Every meaningful exchange in that world becomes a discussion about whether you can "come back" from what you've had to do. They are already dead—dead in sins and transgressions; alive, but merely waiting to become what they already know they are.
You are a zombie. The sin nature you were born with has predetermined that you are a zombie, preying upon the "living", never able to make up for the choices you've made—the things you can't help but do. It is a fact of your birth. You are already infected. It is what you are. Even while you are "alive" your actions will hardly be better than the mindless, undead zombies that seek to kill you. You cry out, "But I'm a human being, with the ability to love and choose." But that is false. Your "love" is ultimately for yourself, not for others. Self-love is not real love. Real love is turned outward toward God and your neighbor. Self-love is turned inward. You are your own idol. And you do not freely "choose." Your nature chooses for you. Zombies do what zombies do. They may "choose" to eat this human or that human, but it's all still determined by the zombie nature. Even though you are not fully zombie but "alive" you do not choose what is good, but only what is easy, expedient, or "necessary."
The only way to deal with your zombie state is to die to it. A head shot. A crushing blow. From a gun, sword, sharp stick, bat, or the heel of a boot crushing the skull of the snake, I mean, zombie.
That is you. You must die. Die to sin. Die to self. Die to Satan, whose power was crushed by a stake through the skull of Golgotha, by a Heel smashing the undead nerve endings in that zombie-snake mind. That undead zombie-snake bit that Heel. It infected that Heel with death. ‘Twas just a flesh wound, but it caused death in the flesh of that Man: Jesus Christ. He ought to have turned zombie Himself, except for two facts: He'd already crushed death, and all its works and all its ways, and His flesh is incorruptible, indestructible. Though it dies, it lives! And it gives life to zombies.
You are a zombie, already limping around like an undead thing, seeking to devour the living. But this Living One gives His flesh to be eaten by zombies. And lo and behold, the zombies live! Their color improves. Their desire for a pound of flesh wanes, for they are no longer zombies. They are now men, trapped in the flesh of a zombie. This living flesh of Jesus gives life to both the living and the dead.
But like so many bad horror movies, the unnatural evil comes back, sequel after awful sequel. So this Ninja of Ninjas Living One gives His living flesh to the flesh eaters. It slays them and makes alive. They still have corruptible bodies. Decaying bodies. Bodies that will betray them and turn on their loved ones in a moment's notice. But this Man's flesh is both the cure and the promise. It slays zombies and raises men, living men, on this side of eternity. But it does not fully deliver that promise yet. The fullness of that life is yet to come.
You are a zombie. But that is good. For you are also a living being, given life by the Living One, Jesus Christ. Whenever your zombie nature raises its ugly head, that merely drives you back to the Living One. To His life. To His boot heel that crushes down sin and Satan under our feet. To His Water and Word which wash you clean of corruption. To His double-edged sword which gave and gives you life. In the "Walking Dead," the living can look forward to nothing other than becoming the walking dead. But in this life, you look forward in Jesus to one day having death put down once for all and being able to live forever with Him. Jesus, whose flesh is the cure for zombie-ism, is the One who will someday turn your "Zombieland" into His Promised Land.
Rev. Dave Haberstock is the pastor of Epiphany Lutheran Church in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He can be reached at email@example.com.