Monday, April 05, 2010

Resurrection: not just an afterthought

I wrote the following for publication elsewhere. For those wanting to explore further, I'm sure Sam Allberry's Lifted would be a reliable guide, although I haven't as yet read it.
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“[After] All that stuff about science and physics, and the complications of physics and things, what it really comes down to is the resurrection of Jesus...It’s so petty, it’s so trivial, it’s so local, it’s so earth-bound, it’s so unworthy of the universe.”
So says noted atheist scientist, Richard Dawkins, in a debate. And though we no doubt deeply disagree with him, we sometimes find it harder to explain why, exactly, it's so important. If all our debt has been paid on the cross, why the resurrection? Here, very very briefly, is a non-exhaustive list why resurrection is key.

Firstly, resurrection tells us that the Davidic King is now ruling. King David prophesied that the Messiah would be enthroned when God raised him from the dead (Psalm 110:1, Acts 2:34-35). Here is a King whose reign is all-encompassing and all-conquering. The empty tomb of Jesus testifies to the fact that He is that King! No wonder the disciples were transformed! God raised him, they saw him, they lived for him.

Secondly, resurrection tells us that new life really is found in Christ. Negatively speaking, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:7). We know that sin leads to death. Jesus, in dying on the cross, has taken our punishment upon himself. But in rising again, he demonstrates that the cross has done its work. Sin is completely dealt with! We know we are truly justified (Rom 4:25), and death is no longer the end. We can rest, wholly assured.

Thirdly, resurrection tells us that we presently have new power. In Colossians 3:1, Paul can say of Christians, “you have been raised with Christ” (past tense). In one sense, we have been resurrected already. The Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:9-11) is the same Spirit who dwells in all believers. Resurrection gives us a glimpse of life in the future. But that future resurrection life begins to bear fruit in us today as we walk God's way.

Fourthly, resurrection tells us that a new creation is coming. Peter praises God for his great mercy in granting Christians “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3). Jesus' resurrection will not be the last. His resurrection, instead, guarantees that it will be the first of the many who trust in him (1 Cor. 15:20-21). And through the resurrection of God's children, all of creation groans in hope too, as it awaits complete renewal (Rom. 8:18-23). Far from abandoning the earth, God will one day reshape it.

Resurrection, unworthy of the universe? On the contrary, the universe is unworthy of such a momentous event. Christ is risen, hallelujah!

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