I really have seven hundred places I could start, but this is closest to the main point I want to talk about:

This true meaning has remained hidden because the Church has trivialised it and the world has rubbished it. The Church has turned Jesus’s Resurrection into a “happy ending” after the dark and messy story of Good Friday, often scaling it down so that “resurrection” becomes a fancy way of saying “He went to Heaven”. Easter then means: “There really is life after death”… Now, suddenly, the real meaning of Easter comes into view, as well as the real reason why it has been trivialised and sidelined. Easter is about a new creation that has already begun. God is remaking His world, challenging all the other powers that think that is their job. The rich, wise order of creation and its glorious, abundant beauty are reaffirmed on the other side of the thing that always threatens justice and beauty – death. Christianity’s critics have always sneered that nothing has changed. But everything has. The world is a different place. NT Wright in Times Online

I will be the first to admit that resurrection scares the be-Jesus out of me. I do not, for one second, admit to understand what all the implications are. But I am left with certain facts. Jesus was raised bodily, not to live as he formerly lived, but to live a much more real, full, whole, holy, glorified existence. The existence Paul says we “we will be like him”. He was raised in the middle of history, far before anyone expected the resurrection to happen. After all – the only category anyone in the first century had was that “this must be the end – we just witnessed resurrection”. So, don’t be surprised when that is exactly the attitude they hold about their time.

Resurrection “meant” (in the secondary sense – its implications if you will – beyond the referent that “someone who was dead, coming to bodily life”) that God’s new creation has started. Reading any of the OT passages about resurrection, either the concrete referent of raising to life, or the metaphor about a return from exile (ala Ez 37), and you will find something about a new creation. Those are the facts that I am forced to deal with in my Christian life, and the same ones that the Church at large is forced to deal with.

That very new creation theology, I’ve found is terribly lacking in the greater Church today. The power of resurrection has been sucked out of the word. Not least because the majority of people who are practicing, preaching, and teaching Christianity are now the powerful. They are now the status-quo, the empire. And Jesus challenges the status-quo. If you don’t think resurrection, the new-creation, is a massive challenge:

… is to miss the point, to cut the nerve of the social, cultural and political critique. Death is the ultimate weapon of the tyrant; resurrection does not make a covenant with death, it overthrows it. The resurrection, in the full Jewish and early Christian sense, is the ultimate affirmation that creation matters, that embodied human beings matter. That is why resurrection has always had an inescapable political meaning; that is why the Saducees in the first century, and the Enlightenment in our own day, have opposed it so strongly. No tyrant is threatened by Jesus going to heaven, leaving his body in a tomb. No governments face the authentic Christian challenge when the church’s social preaching tries to base itself on Jesus’ teaching, detached from the central and energizing fact of his resurrection (or when, for that matter, the resurrection is affirmed simply as an example of a supernatural ‘happy ending’ which guarantees post-mortem bliss).

Saying ‘Jesus has been raised from the dead’ proved to be self-involving in that it gained its meaning within this counter-imperial worldview. The Sadducees were right to regard the doctrine of resurrection, and especially, its announcement in relation to Jesus, as political dynamite. NT Wright, Resurrection of the Son of God, pg 730-1

If you think you’ve got resurrection down pat, think again.

Note: We will not repeat the discussion that Jesus was a spirit, or resurrection has already happened, or happens at death. The views of the .2% will not sidetrack a furthering discussion for the 99.8%. Comments will be moderated.

19 Responses to “What’s the Deal With Resurrection”

  1. on 13 Apr 2009 at 6:47 amSean

    I want to say that resurrection gives one the necessary confidence to stand up for their faith when threatened by State torture and execution (cf. Polycarp for example). But, I suppose one could equally apply heaven-at-death as the motivating factor. I don’t like that though. Perhaps we should say that after Jesus’ resurrection the early Christians had a preview of what is to come and so had more confidence than prior martyrs. I don’t know.

    But, the new covenant theology aspect is definitely solid (or new creation if you like). Jesus’ resurrection is like a comet hitting the earth. The initial impact causes shock and awe, and the residual aftershocks continually remind everyone that something cosmic just happened. One of the things shaken loose by Jesus’ resurrection is the outpouring of the holy spirit (which of course is eschatological as well). Another is the inclusion of the Gentiles (all nations being instructed by Zion’s (new) law). A third would be the inauguration of the new covenant. Simply put, things aren’t the same anymore for the people of God. The resurrection opened up doors to things that are supposed to be only in the future. But, here they are, and now the church (both Jew and Gentile) have a prophetic role to play in the world as the community of resurrection. Our lives and words should testify that Jesus was risen.

  2. on 13 Apr 2009 at 6:53 amWolfgang

    it seems to me that N.T.Wright is doing exactly what he sort of accuses everybody else of having done …. maybe in a slightly different vein and with some slightly different “tendency”.

    It seems that N.T.Wright is trying hard to counter what he perceives as a prevalent wrong understanding and interpretation of “resurrection”, and in doing so he ends up proposing a view that is not biblically based either, but rather only the “opposite” of that which he is criticizing.

    At times, people think that of two opposing views, one must be right while the other is wrong …. when the truth of such matters is, that both are wrong and the correct understanding is different from both opposing propositions.

    Cheers,
    Wolfgang

    PS: This will be my only comment in this topic, since I do not approve of the approach explained in your “note” at the end of the original post.

  3. on 13 Apr 2009 at 7:03 amJohnO

    I have one thing to say: read his work before you project a motivation on to him. We’re done with that.

  4. on 13 Apr 2009 at 7:43 amRay

    In God raising Jesus from the dead,
    We all behold the promise of God received.
    The scriptures fullfilled again,
    A prophetic gesture of God, restoring our confidence in the things
    he’s commanded us to receive, and to receive again.
    In short, and in part, as the scriptures have said,
    We all have received of his fullness.

  5. on 13 Apr 2009 at 2:13 pmSean

    BTW, I think Ez 37 could be a prophesy of both resurrection and return from exile. Or better yet, resurrection in order to inherit the land.

  6. on 13 Apr 2009 at 2:35 pmrobert

    It is the first resurrection and the ingathering of all that will live in the kingdom of God. that includes the scattered of all 12 tribes and the adopted through Jesus.
    this has not happened and will not happen till Jesus returns to rule.
    current Israel was not sanctioned by God

  7. on 14 Apr 2009 at 8:45 pmRay

    I Thess 4:14
    For if we believe that Jesus is dead, and is risen, even so them which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with him. (1599 Geneva)

    Doesn’t the scripture teach that upon death, a saint who believes
    in Jesus becomes absent from the body and present with the Lord,
    and that where Jesus is, they go also, and that they will return to
    this earth with Jesus at his return, as Jesus brings them with him?

    They are no doubt “asleep” in Christ, for by having faith in him they
    were grafted into him, but from the perspective of us here on this
    earth as we are in Christ, we can not communicate with them as we might wish, yet as they are alive….hence “asleep”. There are
    alive in the spirit of God in Christ Jesus and will one day be reunited
    with those bodies left behind, though they will be changed as Jesus’s body and his resurrection indicate to us.

    What a wonderful hope we have in him.

  8. on 14 Apr 2009 at 8:54 pmMark C.

    Doesn’t the scripture teach that upon death, a saint who believes
    in Jesus becomes absent from the body and present with the Lord

    No, it doesn’t. And you should know that because we have addressed that common misquotation repeatedly.

  9. on 14 Apr 2009 at 9:34 pmrobert

    so who and how many walked on water?
    Peter gets out of the boat and begins walking on the water toward Jesus. 2

    so who and how many brought someone back from the dead?
    The Bible records that Elijah, Elisha, Peter, and Paul raised the dead, as well as Jesus Christ. 5

    so who and how many could part water to walk upon dry ground?
    Elijah, Elisha and Moses 3

    so who and how many was caught up to heaven with their earthly body?
    Enoch, Elijah and of course Jesus 3

    so who and how many have the power to create and powers are unlimited to be able for all above to happen?
    The one and only true God

  10. on 14 Apr 2009 at 10:10 pmRay

    I believe the apostle Paul taught that to be absent from the body
    for a saint in Christ, is to be present with the Lord.

  11. on 15 Apr 2009 at 5:21 amSean

    robert,

    please make comments relevant to the post

    ray,

    JohnO and I have addressed 2 Cor 5.8 in a short video. Click here to watch it. I’d be curious what your response would be after watching it. (many more resources available on our Death is Sleep page).

  12. on 15 Apr 2009 at 6:50 amrobert

    sorry the thread which it was relevant in was closed.
    but showing God is one should be welcome anywhere on this site

  13. on 15 Apr 2009 at 8:51 amSean

    robert,

    Threads don’t close. You can always comment on any post (you just have to find it…using the categories to the right or the search bar at the top).

  14. on 15 Apr 2009 at 9:51 amJohnE

    Sean,
    maybe JohnO didn’t tell you. Threads do close, he just closed the one on 1 Th. 4:4. See http://kingdomready.org/blog/tell-us-how-we-are-doing/#comment-43424 and below.

  15. on 15 Apr 2009 at 9:53 amSean

    hmm…

  16. on 15 Apr 2009 at 10:15 amJohnO

    I plan on addressing the actual issue (how to approach the biblical text) that is being discussed in that thread. Since a thread about 1 Thess 4 is not the appropriate place. Expect a post where we can deal with that issue directly on Monday.

  17. on 15 Apr 2009 at 11:24 amJohnE

    Sure, nice excuse for total censorship of those discussions. Doctrinal authority was just one tiny part discussed there. You provided a different excuse yesterday, saying “enough is enough”, which just shows YOU had enough of that. How about letting other people who didn’t have enough talk, and once your thesis is ready, move the comments on that subject there if you want. That’s why I don’t buy your excuses, whether you care or not. I think it’s clear enough what you are doing here. Sorry for being blunt, but your actions speak louder than your excuses.

  18. on 15 Apr 2009 at 1:47 pmMark C.

    I believe the apostle Paul taught that to be absent from the body
    for a saint in Christ, is to be present with the Lord.

    Why do you believe that when it is clearly not what Paul taught? He does not say that to be absent from the body IS to be present with the Lord. He says that he is “willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” And he writes elsewhere (I Cor. 15:22-23; 52-54; Philippians 3:10-14; 20-21; I Thess. 4:13-18) that he will be with the Lord at his return. We have pointed this out repeatedly. Why do you continue to blow it off?

  19. on 15 Apr 2009 at 9:59 pmJohnO

    JohnE,

    I’m sorry you think almost 160 comments is censorship. But there are others on this blog, that want to use it to talk about more than what you want to talk about. I’m not going to let a single discussion drown out the rest of the audience and topics. I’m sorry we have a responsibility and a body to take care of that is larger.

  

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