So far, we’ve looked at multiple reasons why the bodily resurrection of King Jesus is good news. The resurrection of Jesus is good news because it means that this world has a new sort of king and a new kind of kingdom (here). Resurrection is good news because it means that there is a day of justice approaching, a day when oppressors will be called to account, righteous sufferers will be vindicated, and all wrongs will be made right (here). Resurrection is good news because it is a foretaste in the midst of history of the transformation that will take place in the entire creation at the appearing of the Lord Jesus (here). Finally, resurrection is also good news on a personal level because it offers new life and the prospect of human flourishing for those trapped in dehumanizing patterns.
All people were created as the image bearers of the one true God. Like Israel, whose story we surveyed in Tuesday’s post, we were all created to worship him and to mirror his goodness to the world. We were created to be a source of blessing for the world. For this reason, as humans, we are most happy and flourishing when we relate rightly to God and, in turn, accurately reflect his glory to the rest of creation. That’s our purpose. That’s what why we were made, so, of course, that’s what would most fulfill us as God’s creatures. However, also like Israel, we’ve all fallen short of properly reflecting God’s glory. This is Paul’s point in the first few chapters of his letter to the Romans. All have fallen short of properly reflecting God’s good character to the creation because we have valued other gods more highly than him. As a result, God has delivered us up to those desires. The ancient Israelites worshiped the gods and shared the values of the nations, so God gave them up to those desires, and they were exiled and became captives to the Assyrians, to the Babylonians, and eventually to the Romans. Those who value money as their god are given over to their desires as well, and they become enslaved to their greed. Those who value fame as their god are delivered over to those gods, and they become enslaved to their reputation and to the fear of other people. Those who value sexual pleasure as a god rather than as a good gift from the LORD are delivered up to those pleasures, and they become enslaved to inordinate passions. All people have been broken by and enslaved to lessor gods and are traveling down a road away from the source of our light and life. Such a road inevitably leads to death rather than the life of full human flourishing that we were created for and for which this world longs (see yesterday’s post). But, the good news is that, in the mercy and kindness of God, the Lord Jesus was delivered up as well. However, he wasn’t delivered up for any wrong that he had done. Rather, he was delivered over for our trespasses and raised for our vindication and acceptance back into God’s family (Rom. 4:25). He bore the full weight of the exile that Israel’s rebellion deserved and the death that our idolatry and sin merits as well. And, through faith in him we are forgiven our sins, granted peace with God, and are empowered with new life through the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, we are restored to fellowship with the true God and are fitted again for his service. We are granted resurrection lives to reign with King Jesus over his new creation. This resurrection life based upon the bodily resurrection of Jesus comes in two states.
First, the good news includes the truth that, for those of us who turn back toward God and swear allegiance to King Jesus, Jesus’ resurrection is a signpost, or the first-fruits, of our own bodily resurrection when Jesus appears again at the culmination of history. Paul writes: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep [died]. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Corinth. 15:20-23). Jesus himself put it this way. He said, “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 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” (Jn. 5:26-29). At the appearing of King Jesus, the Father will do for us who hope in Jesus what he did for Jesus himself. He will raise our mortal bodies and clothe them with immortality (1 Corinth 15:50-58). We will be raised to reign over, to execute judgment in, and to inherit the new creation with King Jesus. The good news about the resurrection of Jesus is that it assures those of us who hope in him of a glorious future as well—the glorious future and purpose for which we were made. However, does this mean that the resurrection of Jesus has no meaning for us in the present? Is life now a mere waiting game? Not at all! This leads to a second reason the resurrection of Jesus is good news for us personally in terms of a new life of freedom and full human flourishing.
The resurrection of Jesus is good news for us right now because through the grace of God shown to us in King Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can begin, in the present, to live a life of full human flourishing. By virtue of the death of Jesus for us, we can receive forgiveness of our sins, a new relationship with the God we were made to worship, rescue from the powers that have enslaved us, and new life in the Holy Spirit. In fact, Paul says that, on the one hand, the gift of the Holy Spirit is the signpost and guarantee that we will receive the inheritance of resurrection life and new creation at the appearing of Jesus (Eph. 1:13-14). On the other hand, the Holy Spirit empowers us in the present to worship the true God and to bear the fruit or the characteristics that mirror the good character of God to the creation. For Paul, that is the essence of true human freedom, true life, and true human-flourishing—the freedom from selfish desire in order to worship the true God and to reflect his glorious character to the world around us (Gal. 5). That, essentially, is what the good news about Jesus, the good news of resurrection, promises to us on a personal level: a new life of full human flourishing, the life we were created to live. This, of course, doesn’t mean that if we follow Jesus we will be rich, healthy, and wealthy and live our best life now in terms of the American dream or that which is promised by the false god of materialism. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the love, joy, peace, and freedom that allows a person to declare with Jesus that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). I’m talking about the faithfulness, kindness, goodness, and self-control that allows a person, again, to declare with Jesus, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). I’m talking about the fruit of the Spirit that allowed Paul to say and mean it—even as he stared hunger and eventually execution in the face, “I can do all things through [King Jesus] who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Just days before his crucifixion, Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). Jesus was talking about life rescued from the gods of this world, restored into fellowship with the true God, and empowered for purpose through the Holy Spirit. He was talking about the kind of life that would drive us husbands to love our wives even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. He was talking about the kind of life that would cause us parents to sacrifice our own wants for our children. He was talking about the kind of life that would cause us to sacrifice and risk even for our enemies because we’ve been so transformed that for some reason we love them too. That is abundant life, whether we realize it or not. That life is offered to us through faith in the risen King. The resurrection is good news indeed!
In short, the resurrection is good news because it means that this world has a new sort of king and a different kind of kingdom. It means that there is coming a day of justice, when the wrongs of this world will be made right. It means that the creation itself will be renewed to welcome the children of God. It means that those broken and bruised by idolatry and sin can receive the right to be called those children of God so that they may receive the eternal life that is “kept in heaven” and is “ready to be revealed” when the risen King returns (1 Peter 1:4-5). Amen. Come King Jesus!
If you’re in the Paducah area and want to talk more about King Jesus and what it means to live in his new world, I would love to sit down with you over a cup of coffee (my treat!). Contact me, and let’s meet! I also invite you to come and worship the King with me at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church. We meet for worship weekly at 10:30 on Sunday mornings.