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.