From the Pastor From the Pastor: The Logic of the Resurrection: What It Is and What It Does

From the Pastor: The Logic of the Resurrection: What It Is and What It Does

The central features of the New Testament message are Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection was the announcement that death no longer reigns over us—the very worst thing that can happen to us has been defeated and overruled. And that same power that operated to raise Jesus’ physical body from the tomb on Easter morning is operating this very day to bring dead things back to life: dead dreams, dead careers, dead marriages, and dead hopes.

And we’re not going to be “immortal-souls-in-heaven” (that’s a very different religion!). In Jesus’ resurrection we have something real to hope for, and to get us excited about—a purpose-packed, thrilling physical existence in a dazzling wonderland with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit at the center of everything.

So how is it that we take this exciting truth and turn it into something mundane, and even depressing? If you ask the average churchgoer what the resurrection of Jesus is, typically, the logic may go something like this:

-Jesus was raised from death by God on Easter morning.
-He ascended, or returned, to heaven.
-He will be there until his return to earth.
-When we die, we part ways with our earthly existence, and our souls will go immediately to heaven to live forever.
-Somehow, we eventually get resurrected from the dead, too, but it’s not clear how that fits into the scheme. In the meantime, we simply “rest in peace.”

That’s about as far as most can go. No excitement, no expectations, no joy, no clarity, and an indifference to the nature of the resurrection. The Easter Bunny brings more smiles! So let’s open out our Bibles and consider some basic Scriptures to energize and awaken our minds to the logic of the resurrection—what it is and what it does.

Genesis 1:31 – the opening chapter of the Bible, lays the foundation for God’s physical Creation. When God had finished his handiwork, he pronounced it “very good.” He liked it, a lot.

Isaiah, chapters 65 and 66 – give us first glimpses of the New Heaven and New Earth, where wolf and lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

Matthew 19:28 – refers to a future renewal of all things, using a word that literally means “again-genesis,” or, in popular language, “born-again” (earth).

John 20 – Thomas refuses to believe in Jesus’ physical return from death until he has definitive proof. He wanted to know that the whole thing was real, that Jesus was not simply a ghost, or an illusion. Good for him! So should we.

John 21 – after the resurrection, Jesus is seen preparing breakfast on the beach, to be shared with some of his disciples. Ghosts never do this.

Luke 24 – the resurrected Jesus is reported to partake of food twice in the presence of others.

Acts 1 – Luke tells us that Jesus spent 40 days giving many infallible proofs of his resurrection, having more meals with his people, and teaching them more about the Kingdom of God. He wanted to make sure that his resurrection and ongoing life were beyond the shadow of a doubt, and never to be misunderstood. No mind was to be left unconvinced. It worked! It needed to work in order to survive the “religion storm” of the first century.

Acts 3:21 – there is another reference to a “restoration of all things,” with a rare Greek word (apokatastasis) carrying the meaning of God’s intended re-creation of everything he had made.

Romans 8:18-21 – the apostle Paul describes a re-creation and redemption, not simply of humans, but of the planet and the entire Creation. God never stopped liking, or had a change of mind about, all he had first created.

1 Corinthians 15:42-49 – Paul asserts that Jesus physical resurrection body is the model, or prototype, of our new, immortal bodies.

Revelation 21:1-4 – The Bible closes with a final mention of the New Heaven and New Earth, where humans will live on a restored, physical earth in physical bodies, and where all evil and suffering will no longer exist. You could call it an “earthly heaven,” or a “heavenly earth.”

From these, and other passages, we can arrive at the following picture of our future destiny: Far from living as disembodied, “immortal souls” dwelling in a non-physical (“spiritual”) heaven, we are destined to live forever as beings living in Spirit-powered physical bodies on a Spirit-powered physical earth, restored in all its original features, but with the curse of sin, decay, and death removed forever.

There’s more. We are encouraged to imagine what was previously unimaginable. In 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, the Holy Spirit has revealed to us what previously no eye had ever seen, not ear heard, nor ever before was even imagined. In other words, we are now free to picture what life will be like, given the general outlines of the new Creation.

Since the entire Bible consistently regards everything that God made as “very good,” we can imagine life-everlasting with the assumption that what good things that already exist will be there as well. It’s not hard to picture it: trees and plants of every kind bursting with delicious food, flowers, lakes and waterways, mountains, valleys, plains, rocks, grass, fields, people, as well as birds, squirrels, and animals of every variety. What is to be marveled at and enjoyed, is not to be annihilated, or exchanged for something totally different (or better), but is to be transformed, profoundly enhanced, and eternalized.

Christians can still differ as to the variety of interim events that may occur between life here and life there. But those are of limited interest and importance in light of our clearly defined final destiny.

It’s Easter! It’s time to toss our hats in the air to celebrate what it means. Let’s proclaim to the world the astonishing conclusion to the play we know as life. Let’s tell of the over-the-top, super-Paradise God has in store for his world, for those who love him, want him, his will, and his kingdom more than anything else. Let’s expect more from God, not less.

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