Resurrections Day, Part 2
How Easter Brought Back the Human Race
By this merging into death we were buried with him so that, just as the Anointed was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory [His goodness] we too might walk in a fresh, new life. —Paul, AD 57–58
There were plenty of failed revolutionaries filling Roman crosses in the first century, and it appeared that this Nazarene was yet one more destined for the smoking piles of Ben-Hinnom’s valley. Curiously, one wealthy member of the Sanhedrin had offered him his own tomb. Yet neither Joseph, nor any priest or Levite could have foreseen what came next— the Sacrifice shaking off mortality like snow and raising itself up off the altar.
The four gospels tell of the disciples’ astonishment and confusion as they encountered the resurrected Master. One apparent reason for this is that Jesus looked nothing like his previous incarnation. Mary mistook him for a gardener who, strangely, did not merely beautify tombs but carried off interred corpses. Similarly, the disciples on the Emmaus Road regarded him as a traveling pilgrim apparently clueless about recent events.
I have come to believe that there is a profoundly important lesson here. The significance of this should not be missed.
Lisa Thompson writes,
A butterfly is never called
a caterpillar saved by grace.
It is a ompletely new creation.
The butterfly has left the cocoon behind.
This is why, when we continue to speak over ourselves things like I am nothing, worthless, a wretched worm, blind, we are unwittingly agreeing with the devil’s own identity. Just as God is creating sons and daughters, satan is also trying to reproduce himself in humanity. This should not be so.
For, if we have become of a kindred nature in a death like his, we will at least also be grafted together in resurrection [like his]. (Romans 6:5)
So, if anyone is in the Anointed he is a new creation; the old things have passed away. Look — they have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
There is an important distinction to be made here, between two notions which are sometimes confused. Scholar and historian Marcus J. Borg explains,
Resuscitation refers to the reanimation of a corpse: a person dead or thought to be dead comes back to life, resumes the life that she or he had before and will die again someday.
Resurrection means something quite different in a first-century Jewish context, it does not refer to resumption of one’s previous life, but entry into another kind of existence, a level or realm that is beyond death…
Whatever happened at Easter, it was not resuscitation. Easter does not mean that Jesus resumed his previous life as a finite person, limited in time and space, and then died again someday. Rather, resurrection means that he entered another kind and level of existence, “raised to the right hand of God.”
Resuscitation happens from outside a person. Someone must perform an external procedure, and bring that person back to life. But resurrection is not so. In Sheol, Jesus found Death coiled ‘round Him like a snake, yet He found that the power on His inside was greater than the pressure to stay dead. Who He was and Where he was standing on the inside was greater than every hellish circumstances without. Magnificently, as He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17). If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised the Anointed One from the dead also causes life to surge through our mortal bodies (Rom 8:11).
Watchman Nee, the well-known Chinese theologian, tells us,
Christ is the last Adam, and by His death He concludes the old creation. By His resurrection, Christ commences a new creation.
Today, we celebrate the resurrections. Notice I said resurrections, not resurrection. First, we celebrate Christ’s rising from the grave, like the spring sun warming the earth after long winter freeze. But, we celebrate our resurrection too. Christ’s victory wasn’t just for Himself. He is no showman. It is for us too.