Morning Readings - Leviticus 20-21
Evening Readings - Matthew 28
The resurrection of Jesus is the center of the Christian faith. Without the resurrection, Jesus would be just another failed Messiah and the early Christian movement would have faded quickly. As the Apostle Paul said, "If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (I Corinthians 15:14).
In the ancient world, there were many who believed that death was simply the end of life completely, while others believed in a nebulous and insubstantial existence in the underworld. The notion of a physical, embodied resurrection was considered foolishness by the educated and elite within the Greco-Roman world. However, for early Christians the physical resurrection of Jesus was the cornerstone of their entire belief system. As Paul argues in today's reading, "if Christ has not been raised, then our faith is futile and we are still in our sins!" The resurrection is proof that Christ's death was, in fact, God's victory over the power of sin and death. If Christ has not been raised then he is still dead, which means there is no victory!
The resurrection of Jesus is not simply a happy ending to an otherwise tragic story, but rather is the beginning of a new age, the age of the kingdom of God. The resurrection is a foretaste of God's new creation. As Christians, it is imperative that we understand the implications of the resurrection of Jesus. Our future hope is not simply that we will "go to heaven when we die," but rather our hope is that we will one day be raised with Christ in order to inhabit God's new creation.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses the essential character of Jesus' resurrection, and then goes on to discuss the future resurrection of dead. If Christ has been raised, then we can be assured that we will one day share in his resurrection; we will one day enjoy a renewed physical existence with God for all eternity. The language that Paul uses to describe this new physical reality is somewhat vague; however, it is important to remember that Paul is attempting to describe a future reality, the reality of God's new creation. No one has any first hand knowledge of this reality, so we can only speak in general terms. Paul's major point is that in this present world we experience sin and brokenness; consequently, our bodies are perishable and subject to decay. However, in the age to come where sin, death, and human brokenness are no more, we will experience a physicality that is imperishable. This is difficult for us to fully comprehend! The resurrection of Jesus is the “first fruits” of God’s future new creation.
Please take a moment to watch the videos I have posted in the sidebar. These are short clips featuring Bishop N.T. Wright, in which Bishop Wright explains his views on the resurrection and the Christian hope.