Categories
Life Theology

Do you hope in the resurrection?

One of my favorite moments in the Gospels is from John 11 when Jesus is about to raise Lazarus from the dead. Martha had just told Jesus that if he would have been around, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. Jesus says to Martha, “Your brother will rise again,” and she replies, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

And Martha was right. She just lost her brother, and her only hope was that she would see him again in the new age–the resurrection, when Lazarus will rise from the dead and get a remodeled body. But Martha missed the point Jesus was making. He couldn’t have made it more clear when he answered her hopeful (yet hopeless) confession:

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

Jesus is the reason Lazarus would rise again. Why? Because he himself is the resurrection. Jesus will die and be raised–not by another’s power (as Lazarus was), but by his own Spirit’s power. He will die and be raised–not to die again (as Lazarus did), but to reign triumphantly over death.  Lazarus came out of the tomb still bound with linen (Jn. 11:46). Jesus came out of the tomb with his linens left in the tomb (Jn. 20:7).  And this risen Jesus will give life to all who believe in him so that even though they die physically, they will live spiritually and rise again to live forever with a resurrected body that is not perishable like our fragile earthly bodies.

This doctrine of resurrection is incredible–for everyone, because we are more broken than we realize. Nevertheless, it is particularly appealing if you are ill, poor, downcast, crippled, homeless, stricken by disaster, hungry, addicted to substances, or destitute.  One day, this world and all who believe in Jesus will be restored. You and I will be made new.

No cancer. No bankruptcy. No tornadoes. No earthquakes. No floods. No car accidents. No murders. No rape. No blindness. No deafness. No speech impediments. No Downs Syndrome. No miscarriages. No downsizing. No hunger. No thirst. No paralysis. No stock market crashes. No divorce. No orphans. No selfishness. No addiction. No drunkenness. No suicide. No child abuse. No pride. No exploitation. No fraud.

Try to wrap your mind around that. I can’t.

In Romans, Paul tells us that this hope of resurrection is what saves us, and that we yearn for it. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved” (8:22-24a).

The world as we know it (including you and me) is out of whack. There is no rhythm; shalom has been disrupted. It is not operating the way it was designed to operate. It must be restored, and it will be, at the resurrection.

For many people in the West–even self-proclaimed “Christians”–Jesus is boring because life is cushy and easy, so the hope of resurrection is not appealing to them. If you make this world your home, if you make this life comfortable, why would it be? If you isolate yourself from the brokenness around you and deny the brokenness in you, you will never realize that you need redemption, resurrection, and restoration.

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live…Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:25, 28-29)

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev. 21:5a)

Categories
Life Theology

Passion Week – Good Friday

This is a re-post of the Passion series from last year.

1 Peter 3:18:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:21:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus did not come to make you a good person with upstanding morals and decent ethics.  He came to make you a perfect person. How does he do this?  He died in our place and bore the concentrated wrath of the Father that we deserved for our sin.  Our sin was credited to him; his righteousness was credited to us. Whoever believes in him, by faith, is presented to the Father, not as a “good” person, but as a completely holy and perfected person.

Hear these penetrating words from C.S. Lewis.

God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing — or should we say “seeing”? there are no tenses in God — the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up.  If I may dare the biological image, God is a “host” who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and “take advantage of” Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.

Father in Heaven, let me feel the weight of glory of Christ’s crucifixion. This is no game. My sin is serious, and it put the God-man to death. Yet that is the only way I could be made perfect, the only way I could be right with you. Thank you for your Son. Thank you for the Cross. Let my eyes always be on the Cross.

Categories
Life Theology

Jesus: The Greater David

Jesus isn’t just the greater Moses. He is also the greater David. In Psalm 78, the psalmist is reflecting on Israel’s rebellion against God after they were saved from slavery in Egypt. God was so gracious to his people despite their unfaithfulness. “Yet,” the psalmist wrote, “they sinned still more against him” (vv. 17, 40, 56).

Later in the Psalm, the writer tells us that he chose a shepherd from the tribe of Judah to lead his people back to God. This shepherd is David. The psalmist tells us:

He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand (vv. 70-72).

You might be thinking, “David had an upright heart?! What about that whole Bathsheba and Uriah thing? That wasn’t so upright!” And you would be right. Of course David had his moral failures. He was human. And that’s the point: as great as David was as shepherd-king of Israel, he still fell short of the perfection that God’s people needed.

That’s where Jesus comes in. In John 10, he said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11).  In saying this, Jesus claims to be the long awaited heir of David who would lead God’s people perfectly. He would be the ultimate shepherd-king who would never have a moral failure or a bad thought toward his flock.

When we read the Old Testament, we cannot look for examples in men like David and Moses. We need to see them as imperfect men who could never fully be what God’s people needed.  They should not inspire us to be better people. They should leave us longing to be saved by the greater Man who did and said all that God wanted with complete perfection.