Busted Halo
feature: entertainment & lifestyle
April 2nd, 2013

The Original Walking Dead: Why Jesus isn’t a zombie

 
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zombie-9
Sunday, Christians around the world celebrated Easter, the commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Sunday night, fans of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead celebrated the third season finale of the AMC TV show about reanimated corpses. Coincidence? We’ll see…

Frequently, it’s joked around the internet that Jesus was the first zombie, even going as far as to re-dub Easter as “Zombie Jesus Day.” Unsurprisingly, the two terms have experienced a surge in popularity every year around Easter since 2006. However, there are a few key differences between Jesus’ resurrection and a zombie’s ascent from the crypt.

Fish and flesh

When you think of a zombie, what’s the first image that comes to mind? For some, it’s the aforementioned Walking Dead. For others, perhaps a George Romero-style, shambling Dawn of the Dead sort of reanimated corpse. Perhaps it’s even a less classic zombie like those from 28 Days Later, or a less seriously threatening zombie, such as the ones in Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead, or Warm Bodies. But whatever your preferred interpretation of zombie lore may be, I’d be willing to bet that the undead you imagined was clamoring for one of two things: flesh or braaaaaaaaiiinns…

Either way, that’s not how things worked for the Risen Christ. In Luke 24:35-48 (Thursday’s reading in the Octave of Easter), we see Jesus eat fish with his disciples, and he breaks bread with them as well (John 21:1-14). Also, just for the record, there don’t seem to be any disciples that went missing mysteriously after encountering the Risen Christ, so I’d say it’s a pretty safe guess that he stuck to bread and fish, and wasn’t using his buddies as a light snack on the side.

No headshots, please!

Christ was raised to eternal life rather than simply back to mortality, meaning that he wouldn’t be able to die again (and therefore isn’t really a zombie). You might recall hearing about this in Romans 6:9 on the Easter Vigil.

Pop quiz: How do you kill a zombie? Usually, the answer is a good shot to the head, whether from a bow, a gun, or simply a well-wielded blunt object — anything to separate the brain from the rest of the body and stop that thing from moving. It’s Zombie 101. The problem with this when it comes to Christ is that he was raised to eternal life rather than simply back to mortality, meaning that he wouldn’t be able to die again (and therefore isn’t really a zombie). You might recall hearing about this in Romans 6:9 on the Easter Vigil.

Closer to the typical zombie model would be Lazarus, whom Jesus brought back to mortal life at the tearful behest of his friends Martha and Mary of Bethany. Watch your head, Lazarus — just in case.

On the third day, He rose again (and then the virus spread)

Let’s get this out of the way, too — Jesus wasn’t infected. He didn’t have T Virus or Rage, or any other medical affliction that brought him back to life. He wasn’t reanimated by voodoo or scientific experimentation or anything like that. On the contrary, Jesus rose from the dead to welcome humanity into new life and to redeem us from our sins. That’s pretty much the opposite of zombie-ism. However, when he rose, Jesus did spread something that is rather infectious — saving grace. Like the virus zombies spread that makes others become likewise, grace brings us into the family of Christ as brothers and sisters. Unlike what zombies spread, grace quashes death’s designs and allows us to keep our sense and our souls.

So what have we got?

Well, although I wouldn’t argue against the notion that Jesus is among the closest things to a zombie humanity has experienced solely based on his resurrection from the dead, as you can see there’s clearly more to it than that. While you can try to make the argument that he fits the bill, it ultimately just falls flat in light of the evidence against it. That said, I’m looking forward to the resurrection of the dead as a whole just as much as anybody else — but that’s a discussion for another day. And when it comes, I’ll be ready. Happy Easter!

 
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The Author : Louis Sullivan
Louis Sullivan is from New Jersey and a recent graduate of Fordham University where he majored in English and theology. He was an active member of Fordham’s Campus Ministry as a Eucharistic Minister, lector, and member of the liturgical choir. Louis is a writer for Dark Knight News and publisher of From the Batcave. Louis is also an intern at Busted Halo.
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  • Veronica

    I noted the coincidence of “The Walking Dead” season finale being aired on Easter Sunday. I went to 12 noon Mass…and then I settled in to watch the show. And as much as I love watching Rick and company, the suggestion that Our Lord was a “zombie” has never crossed my mind. And just to balance out my holiday…I recorded “The Bible” and watched it later that night. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/awvogel Amy Wakefield Vogel

    Love this! We often joke about this, with both my young daughters (6 & 9) inquiring whether Jesus was a zombie! (We’ve explained it much like you have to them; they have certainly picked up on the zombie phenomenon!) But if we want to get really technical, I think you could make a case that Lazarus was the first zombie, even before Christ. Granted, he was just raised to regular life, rather than eternal at that point, which could make the case even stronger. If you are a fan of Being Human, this season highlighted the conundrum of being a re-animated corpse. Interesting how this pop culture/myth/urban legend is all coming to fruition at the same time as Easter! :)

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