All the pagan trappings aside, the nearer the approach of Easter, the more my thoughts are drawn to the pinnacle event of the Christian faith: the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. The entire validity of Christianity stands or falls on the Lord Jesus' resurrection. As Paul so eloquently reasons in I Corinthians 15:13--19, if the Lord Jesus was not raised, everything vital to the faith (preaching, faith itself, witness, hope) is in vain. No resurrection, no Christianity.
And in a seemingly obvious relationship, the Lord Jesus' death is pivotal to the entire resurrection event. No death, no resurrection. And suddenly, John 19:34 receives the attention it deserves.
The apostle John witnessed (v.35) the flow of blood and water from the Lord Jesus' side, following the soldier's spear puncture. Had He been alive at that moment, blood would have spouted out with every beat of His heart. Instead, as Samuel Houghton, M.D. stated, "...water and blood would only flow from the wound if the heart was ruptured."
Indeed, in an article, "On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ," in the Journal of the American Medical Association (255: 1455--1463), W.D. Edwards, W.J. Gabel, and F.E. Hosmer conclude, "Modern medical interpretation of the historical evidence confirms that Jesus was dead when taken down from the cross."
Now, for what may seem an unusual application of this event, which occurred to me recently. As physical death was a physical reality and requirement for physical resurrection, so spiritual regeneration necessitates spiritual death. Taking God's salvation seriously requires taking the total spiritual inability of sinners seriously. Grant even the slightest inkling of contribution a sinner can make to his/her salvation, and the Scriptural message of death-to-life is marred, if not destroyed.
Taking God and the complete glory He (and He alone) deserves, seriously, involves whole-heartedly accepting & proclaiming that the natural man is "dead in trespasses and sin" (Ephesians 2:1); and nothing short of God-initiated, spiritual regeneration will save.