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‘Risen with healing in his wings’ The Resurrection, John 20—21

Tolkien’s eagles provide one last example. At the battle with the evil Balrog on the bridge of Khazad-dûm, Gandalf the wizard sacrifices himself for his friends and falls to his death with the foe, ‘darkness took me, and I strayed out of thought and time’; eventually, ‘Gwaihir the Windlord found me again’, and the great eagle restores him to his friends, alive and even more powerful as Gandalf the White (The Lord of the Rings, Unwin, 1969, pp. 348–349, 524). So, too, John’s Jesus, who is so much in control, sacrifices himself in the struggle with evil on the cross – only to rise again. His account of Jesus’ death depicted everything gradually stripped away until we reach the numbing grief of the burial in a new tomb in a near-by garden (19.41–42). The resurrection story must now offset this emptiness, and bring about the climax and closure of the whole story…

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