New Creation (The Meaning of Resurrection #4)

In the first post in this series, we explored what resurrection really is. In our second post, we discussed how the foundational meaning of the resurrection is that Jesus is King over everything and everyone. In the latest post, we talked about how the resurrection means salvation from our sins, and new life.

In this last post of the series, we will look at the idea that if we are followers of Jesus, what happened to him will happen to us. What happened in Jesus’ resurrection is a glimpse of the New Creation. Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 15 that Jesus is the firstfruits of those who are already asleep. What Paul is saying here is that Jesus was the first to be resurrected, but that we shall be resurrected as well. What happened to Jesus will happen to us.

Taking that into consideration, there are a few implications we can draw out from looking at Jesus’ resurrection. First, our resurrection will be physical. Remember the place we started in this series: Jesus’ resurrection was physical. There was an empty tomb. Thomas touched Jesus’ hands and side (which still had the scars; might there be a sermon in the idea that our resurrected bodies might still bear the scars of our love?).  Luke says Jesus ate after he was raised. So Jesus’ resurrection was physical, and ours will be too.

At the same time, our resurrection will be a different kind of physical than what we know now. We know that there will be no sickness or disease in the New Creation. But even beyond this, we seem to see Jesus walking through a locked door, and also covering distances that can’t be covered in the time given. So, while our resurrection will be physical, it seems to be a different kind of physical than what we know now.

Perhaps the most revolutionary idea is that with Jesus’ resurrection, New Creation has already begun. It is not complete yet, of course. Jesus will come back and ultimately come back and restore everything. But we get glimpses of it even now. The spheres of heaven and earth are overlapping, and New Creation has already begun. We see a hint of this in the book of John. Continue reading

From Death To Life (The Meaning of Resurrection #3)

In our first post in the series, we explored what resurrection really is. In our last post, we discussed how the foundational meaning of the resurrection is that Jesus is King over everything and everyone.

In this post we will explore what is probably the most understood and common meaning of the resurrection: salvation. Probably the earliest summary of the Gospel that we have, in the New Testament or otherwise, is what Paul says in 1st Corinthians 15:2-5: “By this Gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared…” Jesus died for our sins, Jesus was buried, Jesus was raised, and Jesus made public appearances–this is the Gospel.

If you think about it, all four of those events-death, burial, resurrection, appearances-rise or fall with the resurrection. Of course the death was needed and necessary, but the death without the resurrection is incomplete, imperfect, perhaps even a failure. The burial happened to show that Jesus was really dead, so that when he was raised, there would be no mistaking the miracle. And the appearances were to confirm that Jesus really was alive after he really was dead. The earliest summary of the Gospel, by which we are saved, revolves around the resurrection.

In Romans 5, Paul talks about how sin entered the world through one man, and when sin entered the world, so did death. Continue reading

Here Is Your King! (The Meaning of Resurrection #2)

In our last post, we explored what resurrection really is. In the next few posts, we will discover what Jesus’ resurrection really means, and why it matters if we believe it or not.

This first idea that flows out of the resurrection is the foundation for all the other reasons the resurrection is important. The idea is this: the resurrection confirms that Jesus was exactly who he was thought to be, the messiah-king Israel had been waiting for. Israel had been expecting a messiah-who-would-be-king to come and rescue them. Jesus’ resurrection shows that he was this messiah-king that Israel was waiting for.

We see the resurrection as confirmation of Jesus as messiah over and over again in Paul’s writing.  We see it maybe most explicitly in Ephesians 1:20-22. Paul is saying that the power we can have is the same power God exerted “when he raised the Messiah from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet…” We know Jesus is the all-powerful Messiah-king because God raised him from the dead and seated him on his heavenly throne. As a result of the resurrection all things, all other powers are put under Jesus’ feet. Death is defeated. Satan and the powers of evil are all beaten. With the resurrection, Jesus is truly Lord over all.

Paul makes this idea foundational to the whole book of Romans, when at the beginning he says that Jesus was “appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus the Messiah, our Lord.”

But why did the people of the New Testament need more confirmation that Jesus was the Messiah-king? Because there had been other messiahs; at least, other would-be messiahs. Remember the story in Acts 5:12 and following. Continue reading

What We Talk About When We Talk About Resurrection (The Meaning of Resurrection #1)

With Easter coming up in a month or so, I wanted to take some time to look at the idea of resurrection and what that really means. I have already written about why I think we have good reason to believe Jesus’ resurrection is actually a historical event-something that happened in real life, in a certain city, to a certain man at a certain time. In this series of posts, I want to draw out the implications of the Easter events. In a sense, it is the “so what” of the Easter story. What is the real meaning of Jesus’ resurrection?

Before we can go there, though, we need to make sure we are all thinking similar things when we hear the word “resurrection”. We need to make sure we know what we are talking about when we talk about resurrection.

When thinking about the idea of resurrection, it might seem simple enough to just say something like “Jesus lived after he died”. Jesus lived on earth as a man for around 30 years. Then Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. Then he lived again. This is resurrection.

There’s only one problem with this. There were many religions in Jesus’ time that believed a person’s spirit lived on after a person died. To say that Jesus lived after he died would not be a unique claim. Continue reading

Jesus’ Example Of Nonviolence (A Biblical Argument For Nonviolence #5)

We come now to the climax and foundation of the Christian argument for nonviolence—the life and example of Jesus. When we look at Jesus’ life, we find that Jesus’ life and example was extremely nonviolent. In order to see this, though, we should first look at the context in which Jesus lived and the expectations that Jews had for what a Messiah would look like.

During New Testament times, it was expected that the Messiah would be a king who delivered the Jews out from oppression and bring his own kingdom. Many, if not all, Jews expected this to happen through a violent revolution. If you read Josephus, for instance, you see some stories of these Jewish Messiah figures and the revolutions they started. From the Bible and other sources, we know of Judas of Galilee, Manahem Ben Judah and the Sicarri, and Theudas, among others—Messiah figures who all led violent revolts.

We know the story of Gamaliel in Acts 5. The Jewish leaders had become upset at some of Jesus’ followers and planned to move against them. Gamaliel warns the other leaders and says, basically, “Be careful! If this movement is of human origin, it will die out like all the other false messiahs’ movements died out. But if it is of divine origin, then you will be working against God! Best leave well enough alone.” Gamaliel is here referencing other messiahs who had led violent revolts, who had been killed and whose movements had then died. Gamaliel knew that these previous Messianic figures had led violent revolts. (It is interesting, in this context, that at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when he is tempted in the desert, the temptations have to do with Jesus taking up kingdoms and practicing power in ways that more traditionally align with Jewish expectations of the Messiah.)

It is in this context and with these expectations that Jesus begins his ministry. Jesus does claim to be the Messiah, and this is clear because he is eventually crucified, probably for sedition and blasphemy—claiming to be God, and claiming to be king. But Jesus does not turn out to be the kind of Messiah the Jews were looking for. Continue reading

What is Easter Really All About? (Telling the “Big Picture” Story of the Bible #6)

What is Easter?  Maybe you think of Easter bunnies and eggs.  Maybe you think of candy.  There is nothing wrong with any of these things.

Maybe if you are a Christian, you think of individual salvation, not going to Hell, or going to Heaven.  And all of these things are true.

But what If I told you that Easter was about so much more than this?

Through the whole story of the Bible, God’s people are waiting for God to step into space and time once again, through the Messiah, to set things right once and for all.  Over and over God had promised many things to the people: that His kingdom would reign forever and ever, that God and the people would finally be together, that their relationship would be restored, and on and on. Continue reading


“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.  There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.  The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.  He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.  Come and see the place where he lay…”  Matthew 28:1-6