Saturday, April 14, 2012

Resurrection 5

Mark tells us even less about what the resurrection means than it does about what the death of Jesus meant, although his audience presumably knew exactly what to think.  On the other hand, Matthew implicitly connects both the death and resurrection of Jesus to the future resurrection of the dead. Matthew tells his audience that many holy people from the past were raised to life and emerged from their tombs after Jesus' resurrection (Matt. 27:53).

However, the intriguing thing is that Matthew tells of this event immediately after Jesus' death, along with the curtain of the temple ripping and the ground shaking.  The death thus makes the resurrection possible, but Jesus must rise first.  As in Paul, Jesus' resurrection is the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Cor. 15:20).

The Gospel of John also brings out the connection between Jesus and the future resurrection of the dead. "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die" (John 11:25-26).

What is largely implicit in the gospels is explicit in Paul.  Jesus' resurrection is the ultimate defeat of death, the final enemy to be defeated (1 Cor. 15:26). "Just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man" (15:49). We live out our lives on earth in the human form that Adam had.  But when Christ returns, our bodies will be transformed into a resurrection body like Jesus now has. Christ "will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body"(3:21).

But the benefits of the resurrection do not have to wait until Christ's return.  "Just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Rom. 6:4).  In Romans, the primary benefit of the resurrection in view is not the future resurrection of the dead but the power of God to empower a person to live a righteous life right now through the Holy Spirit. This is likely what Paul means when he says that "if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you." (8:11)...

1 comment:

Angie Van De Merwe said...

The development of theological interpretation is the reason why the Gospels and Paul impart more details of "truth". These have become our cultural mores. But, theology is speculative, because it is about the transcendent.

It is too bad that people cannot understand that theology is speculative and "wars" have been fought over it, unfortunately! Not only physical wars, but psychological/philosophical/political/cultural wars over "the moral" and we see how our own culture is "at war" over these issues, not understanding that these are cultural understandings, not absolute ones.

What we need to understand today, is not "God", but political philosophy and what values are most important to maintain in our society. It has little to do with scripture, but everything to do with the health of individuals and society, itself.