The above screenshot is taken from a scene in Father Gabriel’s church in the season 5 episode, “Four Walls and a Roof.” Rick and his group have laid a trap for Gareth and the other cannibals, who have just ambushed Bob and eaten his leg. Two of the Cannibals stand on either side of the door, where they think the survivors are hiding, and they’re about to break in and kill them. Rick has other plans, though. He, Abraham, Sasha, and Michonne will soon slaughter the Cannibals in what a horrified Gabriel calls “the Lord’s House.”
A list of Bible verses hangs conspicuously on the wall, and is featured in countless shots during the course of this episode. The Bible verses are below (at the end of this post)—and, as you’ll see, they all feature the dead who do not stay dead—the resurrected dead.
While all of these verses offer food for thought given what is happening in this particular story arc, and what’s happened since, I’ll just say something about the verse from Luke, which most directly relates to Easter.
Here’s the verse. Luke 24 5: “And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?”
Luke 24 5 comes right after Christ has been crucified. (Luke 23 tells of the crucifixion.) As Jesus hangs on the cross, a man named Joseph goes to Pilate and begs that he be allowed to take his body. He wraps Christ’s body in linen and lays it in a “sepulchre that was hewn in stone.” However, when a group of people goes back to the sepulcher on Monday, they see two men “in shining garments.” Those two men ask the group of people “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”
This quote seems to relate quite directly to what’s happening in “Four Walls and a Roof.” Rick and his group are seeking the Cannibals; the Cannibals are seeking Rick and his group. Both groups are seeking the living among the dead. They all, though, inhabit a world where the lines between living and dead are blurred, just as for the group of people that goes into the sepulcher looking for the dead Christ and yet are told he is “living.” As always, moreover, when the resurrection of Christ is invoked on The Walking Dead, the reference is deeply ironic, for in The Walking Dead’s world, the dead may rise but it’s without any redemption or hope. One is constantly forced to question whether there are any “living” among the dead.
Indeed, after Rick and his group have shot the Cannibals outside the door, not only does their blood spatter over the Luke reference in particular, but the numbers have shifted. Now the verse is Luke 2 45, which is about Mary and Joseph looking for their son: “And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.”
The Cannibals didn’t find who they were looking for—and, I would argue, the verse suggests that everyone who seeks Christ (as symbol of the hope of redemption) in this post-apocalyptic world is going to fail to find him.
Together, then, the references to Luke 24 5 and Luke 2 45 signal a search for Christ that will ultimately prove futile, suggesting that there may be no redemptive “living,” only the dead.
Here are the other verses, in case you want to think about their relevance:
Romans 6 4: “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Ezekiel 37 7: “So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.”
Matthew 27 52: “And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.”
Revelation 9 6: “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.”