Monday, 29 September 2008

The resurrection and the life

This is a response to Mark Barry's request for ideas for an AFES SALT issue on Resurrection. Some of it builds on my previous posts on Covenant Theology.
One theme that goes through Mark's three categories - past/present/future - is the issue of life and death.
What did Jesus mean when he said he is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)?
Jesus lived the "full" life, which is life lived joyfully under God, seeking God's glory in all things (Matt 4:1-11 & parallels [temptation in the wilderness]; 26:39-42 & parallels [Garden of Gethsemane]; John 2:17 cf Ps 69:9; 4:34; 12:27-28).
We try and live a "full" life by running away from God and stuffing ourselves with the best that this world has to offer (Deut 32:12-18; Rom 1:18-32). All of these created things are good in themselves (1 Tim 4:4), but not good enough to replace God, for we have been created to live in relationship with the triune God (Gen 1:26-28; John 17:3). Therefore, by running away from God, we starve ourselves of real life. Also, in running away from him, we anger him, and he subjects us to his active, judicial wrath. We therefore live in death (Rom 1:26-32; 1 Pet 4:4-5). Jesus died to take the death we deserve (Is 52:13-53:12; Rom 6:25; 1 Pet 3:18) - and that death was the culmination of his full life, lived joyfully under the Father (John 12:27-28; Php 2:5-11). That is the amazing grace of the gospel: that the highest point of the Son's full life would be to die for those who live in death.
In the resurrection, the Father retrospectively vindicates the Son - thus affirming that his life really was the "full" life - and grants to the incarnate Son, as the representative head of the new creation, eschatalogical life - eternal life (Heb 2:5-9; 1 Pet 3:21c-22) - the kind of life that we were always intended to enjoy.
We who trust Jesus receive this eschatalogical life now, as a gift from God (2 Cor 5:17; Col 3:1-4). We also have the privilege of living a life like Jesus - a life that is really life, because it serves people, in love, in Jesus' name (Gal 5:13). Our life can thereby give other people life, in small reflection of how Jesus gives us life. The highest act of life-sharing is to tell people about Jesus, and plead with them to start trusting him (evangelism) (John 3:16; 1 Cor 15:58; 2 Cor 5:20-6:2) or keep trusting him (encouragement) (Gal 5:4-5; Heb 6:11-12; 2 Pet 1:3-4, 12-15). Evangelism and mutual edification are acts of sharing resurrection life. Also, as we meet together, our relationships with each other should represent the kinds of relationships we'll enjoy in glory (Eph 4:22-24; 1 Pet 1:22). Ordinary church should be an experience of resurrection relationships.
We can also do good to people in a general, practical way (James 1:27; Gal 6:10). This also enhances life - which is good - but it's not ultimate, eschatalogical life - which is best.
We can't enact this ultimate, resurrection, eschatalogical life; only God can. While we have resurrection life now, we don't feel it. It will only be proximate to our senses in the new creation, when we recieve new, glorified bodies, suited for glory (1 Cor 15:35-57). So, we eagerly look forward to Christ's return, where he will establish this new creation (1 Thess 1:9-10; Rev 22:16, 21). For Jesus himself is the resurrection, and the life - he, in his divine incarnate self, has enacted the new life that God always intended.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Thanks Kamal. You've pretty much written my editorial for me!

In fact, this post has the makings of an evangelistic tool on the significance of the resurrection. One way to fully live!