Among other things, Easter is about God’s war against death. Jesus was not “resuscitated.” That isn’t the meaning of resurrection. Rather, Jesus is someone who experienced death, and came out the other side, so to speak.
There are people in the Bible, and, as many claim, in history, who have been raised “back to life” miraculously. This isn’t the kind of resurrection that happened to Jesus. Jesus was given a new body. His body resembles the body that was put to death, but isn’t completely the same. It is physical, yet is immune to decay and death. It is immortal. All signs of former mortality and weakness are now gone.
Paul discusses the resurrection body in more detail in 1 Corinthians 15. Jesus is called the firstborn of the dead. That means that in Jesus, God is showing us how he will ultimately redeem all of creation. In other words, the same transformation that Jesus underwent in being resurrected is the same transformation that all of God’s creation will experience, including ourselves. This is our future hope. So what does that mean for you and me?
Death has been conquered. Think on that for a moment. Death represents so much more than just the physical process of dying. If it is true that Jesus has paved the way into the new Promised Land of resurrection, then we have nothing to fear. Death represents any threat to God’s kingdom moving forward, and it has been decisively overturned, and will ultimately be destroyed when Christ returns. Acts 3:21 says that heaven must receive Jesus until the time for restoring all things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. In the meantime, it is vitally important for the mission of Christ that Christians today realize we are living in an age when the great barriers to God’s kingdom have been shaken and broken. As my son’s “Jesus Storybook Bible” puts it, God is indeed making everything sad come untrue. He is making all things new. Jesus’ resurrection was the first picture of that newness.
Do we dare to believe we can be made new? There are so many signs of bleak hopelessness in our world today. If we take an honest look around us, we will come to the conclusion that these things are beyond hope. They are lost causes. But God raised Jesus from the dead not only to show us that we can hope in such things, but also that we MUST. We are now Christ’s ambassadors. All of that darkness colludes with death, and has been shown to be weaker than the power that works through Christians all over the world today – the power that was put on display on that first Easter morning.
Resurrection means taking on the hopelessness. We don’t have what it takes for victory, but God does. He rocked the world with it on Resurrection Sunday, and opened the doors wide for all to take part in. When we forget that hope, we cease to be effective in God’s mission for the world. We also say we don’t really believe in resurrection… well, not enough to do anything about it anyway. Let’s be a people united behind God’s mission to seek and save the lost. Let’s be a church of prayer and of action. After all, Jesus has gone before us, showing us that if we are being led by him, and we are willing, then there is nothing that can stand up to that, and therefore, nothing to fear.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
“On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But woke with the keys
To hell on that day
The firstborn of the slain
THE MAN JESUS CHRIST
LAID DEATH IN HIS GRAVE!”
– from “Death in His Grave”
by John Mark